One of the biggest factors affecting the overall look and resale value of a vehicle is the condition of its paint. Whether you plan to keep your car for many years to come or trade it in, maintaining the paint job can make a big difference. That’s why preventing and treating paint oxidation is one thing that every car owner should know.
Rust and paint oxidation are two problems that can greatly detract from your car’s looks and resell value. Both are caused by exposure to the elements and neglect. Fortunately, there are preventative measures that can highly slow down these processes. It’s necessary to be vigilant in taking care of your vehicle in order to avoid expensive auto body repairs or even injury in an accident, caused by a rust-deteriorated structure.
What Is Rust Damage?
Rust damage refers to the corrosion and degradation of a car’s metallic body that occurs when iron reacts with water and air, forming iron oxide. It usually starts in small areas where the car’s protective paint coating is damaged or chipped, exposing the underlying metal. Apart from impacting the aesthetic appeal of the car, rust can lead to serious structural problems if left untreated.
How Does Rust Affect the Auto Body?
The impact of rust on a car’s body can vary from minor to severe, depending on the extent of the corrosion and the location of the rust. Initially, rust may just look unattractive, with discolored spots or bumps under the paint. But as rust spreads, it can weaken the car’s structural integrity by making the metal brittle and prone to cracking or holes.
In particular areas, such as the vehicle’s frame, wheel wells, or other load-bearing parts, rust can cause significant safety concerns. For example, corroded brake lines may fail, resulting in brake loss, or if the rust reaches the car’s frame, it can compromise its ability to withstand impacts during an accident. Moreover, rust can directly affect several mechanical parts. Bolts that are corroded by rust can make the removal and replacement of components challenging, while rust in the engine can lead to overheating or other malfunctions.
Rust damage can go beyond being purely an aesthetic issue. In fact, it can jeopardize the safety of your vehicle, especially in the event of an accident. The corrosion can weaken the structures holding elements like bumpers, which play a vital role in absorbing shock in case of an accident.
What Is Paint Oxidation?
On the other hand, paint oxidation, which is a form of corrosion that occurs when the chemicals in the paint break down over time, results in the paint drying out and losing its oil content. This causes the paint to appear dull and flat and, in later stages, start to feel rough and dusty. Eventually, the clear coat starts to flake off, exposing the metal to other corrosive agents like rust.
How Does Paint Oxidation Affect a Car?
Oil in the paint gives the car that glossy, smooth effect. You can see how oxidation decreases this. Car paint will begin to appear flat and dull in the early stages of oxidation. Next, the color will fade and become noticeably less vibrant. As it progresses, the paint’s surface will start to feel rough and dusty. Then, the clear coat will begin to flake off in patches. At this point, the body of the car is at greater risk because the metal is exposed to other corrosive agents, like rust. That’s why prevention and treatment is so important to protecting the value and integrity of the vehicle.
How to Prevent Rust and Oxidation Damage for Your Car
Unfortunately, science hasn’t figured out a way to stop time yet. The corrosive process of oxidation and rust can’t be stopped, but it can be significantly slowed down. There are a few measures that any car owner can take to keep oxidation and rust damage at bay.
- Wash your car often with the right soap. Washing your vehicle regularly is always good basic car care. You should avoid doing this in direct sunlight and be sure to use special car wash products. Avoid using dishwashing soap or household cleaning detergents because these products can strip the paint of oil and its protective wax coating. Once it’s clean, dry the surface of your car thoroughly.
- Apply wax after washing. Many car owners skip this step. It takes a little extra time, but applying wax to the car will help protect the paint job. Use a car wax that is specifically formulated to prevent UV damage. This type of product should be applied at least once every season and more often if you live in a climate that gets lots of sunshine. Auto experts recommend using paste or liquid wax as it provides better coverage and lasts longer than spray wax products.
- Seek covered parking. Prolonged exposure to UV rays will damage the paint by speeding up the oxidation process. Protect the paint by keeping the car out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Whenever possible, park in a covered garage, car park or in the shade.
How to Address the First Signs of Rust or Oxidation
Rust typically occurs in different stages. In the beginning, you will notice that the paint on your car has corroded or changed color. In the last stage of rust (which you really want to prevent), the metal on your car can start to corrode. Rust will not get better or go away on its own. It has to be completely removed by an auto body expert that understands rust, body damage, and paint. When you notice rust, consult with one of our experts at our auto body shops in Chester and Delaware Counties. By addressing the problem early, you can easily save hundreds of dollars on your car.
How Is Oxidized Paint Treated?
By taking care of rust early, you might be able only to have an auto body mechanic do a little sanding, priming, and paint matching. Or, you can use the rust as an excuse to purchase a new coat of paint to make your car look better than before.
Restoration of the Original Car Paint
If you notice signs of paint oxidation, it’s best to act fast. Like with rust, the longer the corrosion is allowed to continue, the worse the paint damage becomes. Dull, faded car paint can be treated with an intensive buffing process with a liquid abrasive, followed by the application of protective wax. For minimal UV damage, this can often be enough to restore the vehicle’s shine.
Repainting the Car
Oxidized paint that shows more significant damage may require more invasive intervention. More severe oxidation is seen when the car has cloudy, white patches of paint or the clear coat has started to flake. At this point, the car may require a professional touch-up or full coat of new paint. Repainting fully restores its glossy sheen and ensures that the body of the car will be protected from further corrosion. This is a bigger investment, but it will pay off when it’s time to sell or trade in the car.
Get more information here: 5 Facts to Consider Before Getting a Car Painted.
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