What Is The Role Of Water in The Development of Automotive Rust?

Automotive Rust


You may go to a car dealership and purchase a new vehicle. Since new cars are designed to have a long lifespan, they also tend to be made of materials that make them more susceptible to corrosion. While many newer cars are still vulnerable to corrosion, it’s possible that you might find yourself driving around in an older vehicle. If you do, it’s important for you learn how your car ages so that when rust starts developing on your vehicle you can feel confident that the issue has been dealt with promptly. Understanding how water affects corrosion is an important part of learning how to keep older cars free from rust damage.

Understanding the Role of Water:

Rust occurs when corrosion occurs on steel. This type of corrosion happens when a metal is left exposed to water and oxygen. This can occur simply in an open field or in a wet garage.  Corrosion resistant paint or materials make the development of rust more difficult because they are resistant to attack by water. Even though steel is susceptible to attack by water, it’s important for you understand that it’s not just the presence of water that can cause corrosion. It’s actually the reaction between oxygen and iron (found in the steel) that causes steel to rust. Washing your vehicle with a hose or washing it in the rain won’t cause rust to develop. The proper environment must be present for rust to form.

Corrosion is caused by a chemical reaction (a process of combining elements) between oxygen and iron. This process creates iron ions that combine with water molecules in the air or water and oxygen in the metal itself to create ferric ions . These iron ions and other chemicals create two types of corrosion: galvanic and salt-based corrosion.

Galvanic corrosion occurs when the metal is connected to an electrolytic source that has potential differences. When potential differences occur, they cause movement of corrosion products between metals.

What Is The Role Of Water in The Development of Automotive Rust?

Salt-based corrosion occurs when a metal is exposed to water with salt present. The salt causes an electrolytic reaction to occur, which creates electrical potential differences that allow electrolytes to form between the metal and the water. This can lead to corrosion of the material beneath the surface of your vehicle.

Corrosion of metal is a challenging and complicated process. As you can see, there are many different factors that play a role in your vehicle’s susceptibility to corrosion. Understanding these factors is important, because being able to recognize the signs of corrosion can help prevent rust damage on your vehicle.

Tips To Prevent Rust:

Use synthetic oil and motor oil products, or oil/grease products with additives that are designed to reduce water and air exposure of the engine. You also want to check the level in your oil filter every 300 miles or whenever you change your oil , whichever comes first. Be sure that you maintain proper lubrication on moving parts of your car through the use of fluids designed for this purpose.

If you feel like your vehicle is suffering from rust, you have to consider a few different factors. Has your car been exposed to water for long periods of time? Is there rust visible on the frame and undercarriage of the vehicle? Are there signs that indicate that rust has weakened the structure of the car? All of these are very important questions and ones that you should ask yourself before attempting repairs on your vehicle. If you do notice rust, get in touch with a professional as soon as possible to learn more about what you can do to prevent further damage.


You may now be aware of the role water plays when it comes to the development of automotive rust. While water alone isn’t enough to cause your vehicle to rust, it’s important for you to understand that it could play a role in corrosion if your car is exposed to an environment that allows the water and oxygen in the air or water and metal in your car to come together.


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