Keeping your Car and Tools Rust Free

Keeping your Car and Tools Rust Free

Rust is one of the most destructive things a homeowner must protect against. Whether it is power tools, wrenches, a car, or a tractor it doesn’t matter, rust can cause a problem on anything that is metal.

If you live in the northern parts of the US, you are very familiar with rust, every car that is a few years old has rust. Vehicles in the northern USA have so much rust because of the road salt used to keep roads clear and safe. That same road salt is a catalyst for rust. (Catalyst? —It speeds up a process or reaction.

Like giving a 7-year-old a hammer and an energy drink—maximum damage in record time.) And if you live on the east coast don’t think you have escaped rust. High humidity and salt in the air create a rust-rich environment so be on the lookout and act before it’s too late!

Before discussing what action needs to be taken to prevent and remove rust, we should talk a little bit about rust because not all rust is created equal. There are two general types of rust:

Surface Rust

This is light rust that can form quickly but doesn’t cause severe damage right away. Surface rust can form in minutes or hours and can spread very quickly.

Keep Your Car Rust Free

For example, if you use a shovel and then let it sit outside overnight surface rust can form. Here is what happens. When you use the shovel the protective paint coating is worn off and the bare metal is exposed, when left out, that shiny-looking metal reacts with the air, and rust is formed.

However, on a shovel, surface rust isn’t a huge deal, when you use the shovel next time the rust will be removed the same way the original paint was polished away. That said, surface rust on tools can prevent them from working smoothly so you need to assess where and when you must protect against surface rust.

Deep Pitting Rust

This is the second type of rust we are going to discuss, and it is a much more severe form of rust and can result from untreated surface rust. Most people have seen deep pitting rust on older vehicles.

Deep pitting rust causes paint to bubble and fall off, revealing a rusted uneven surface. The surface of the metal will be rough and have little pits or even holes in it (hence deep pitting rust). This type of rust causes extreme damage and can completely eat away metal.

I remember the first time I saw the damage deep pitting rust can cause. I was cleaning my car (it was the second vehicle I owned and was about 7 years old) and I lifted the floor mat and much to my surprise I could see the ground! Rust had completely eaten away all the metal below the floor mat and I had to spend a lot of time fixing the massive hole in my floor.

After a lot of time, money, and hard work I had the car back on the road in a couple of weeks, but I never forgot the despair I felt when I saw the hole and the cost to repair it.

How to Prevent and Stop Rust

Now that we know the different types of rust let’s talk about how to prevent and stop rust. Surface rust can be prevented by applying a thin layer of oil to the metal you want to protect. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use a spray can lubricant, however, you want to make sure that you are using a lubricant that won’t harm plastic or paint.

We recommend using Wagner Universal Ceramic Spray. It is tacky, so it won’t run off and cause a mess. Simply use the spray can apply a thin layer over the metal surface you are protecting and then use a rag or old hand towel to rub the lubricant all around the metal surface.

Wagner Universal Spray contains a micro-ceramic additive that bonds with steel and protects against rust for extremely long periods! You want to make sure you use a lubricant that doesn’t evaporate quickly because if the lubricant you uses evaporates quickly it can cause the metal surface to rust. Keep an eye on your tools and make sure to protect them, especially if you don’t use them often. The last headache you want is a tool that is rusted and doesn’t work when you need it most!

If you have tools that are already rusty, you should remove the rust before applying protective oil. To remove surface rust, you can use steel wool or high grit sandpaper. High grit sandpaper would be considered sandpaper over 150 grit. The higher the grit the less aggressive the sandpaper is, you don’t want to damage the surface further by using sandpaper that is too abrasive. Use the steel wool or sandpaper to polish the metal and remove the rust, once removed apply the protective oil.

Deep pitting rust is a little more difficult to deal with so let’s talk prevention first. If you want your car, tractor, lawnmower, or snowblower to stay rust-free you need to wash them often. Washing and waxing a vehicle removes salts and other things that can accelerate the rusting process and keeps paint and other protective coatings in good shape.

So be sure to hit the car wash more often when the roads are salty. Never use soaps or cleaning products that have high levels of bases, acids, or alcohol. These chemicals can remove protective coatings and cause more rust! So double-check the label and make sure the soap you use is for washing cars or automotive paint.

Final Words

Let’s tackle the worst-case scenario-You have extensive deep pitting rust. You have one choice. Take the vehicle to a professional car repair shop focusing on body repair and paint and get it properly repaired.

If it’s not in your budget to repair the rust at least have a professional look at the rust and make sure the rust has not damaged any crucial components. Extensive rust to the frame, suspension, or body can cause the vehicle to be less safe to drive and safety must be your #1 concern. So have the rust checked out and get the green light from a professional before you take to the road.

Staying ahead of rust can eat up a little time in your life, but that is way better than rust eating away at your car, tools, and toys. Stay ahead of the rust and you will be money ahead in the long run!


Wesley Kolbe

At the helm of AET Systems, Wesley Kolbe merges tradition with innovation to provide top-quality lubricants and unmatched service, ensuring every client's machinery runs at its best.