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October 9, 2012 Car Care

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Ryan Thompson, a body technician at Diehl Automotive, works on the underside of a vehicle. With snow and salt, vehicles in the Northeast face a greater rust risk. Rustproofing can prolong the life of a car.

When it comes to the way a car looks, most people are only concerned as to how the surface of the car looks.

However, when the bottom of a vehicle appears to be rusty, it can lead to future problems.

Rick Fennell, owner of Rick Fennell Rustproofing in Summit Township, said he recommends that all vehicle owners get rustproofing for their cars.

“There’s a huge need for it,” Fennell said.

Rustproofing is a process by which a type of material is sprayed on the undercarriage.

He said the need for rustproofing has increased during the past few years because of the increase in the use of brine on roads as snow prevention.

“Anything steel that goes up and down the road, that stuff attacks,” Fennell said.

He said that rustproofing is especially important in this part of the U.S., where there is an annual freeze/thaw cycle and salt and other corrosive materials are used on the roads. In warmer and dryer areas, rustproofing is very rare, he said.

Tony Oliva, body shop director at Diehl Automotive in Penn Township, said that he has seen more people come into the shop interested in rustproofing recently.

“I think people are keeping their cars longer and they are looking for things that can help it hold up,” Oliva said.

The first type of rustproofing that was invented was an asphalt and tar coating that first was used in the 1950s and 1960s. Later, a wax paraffin coating was used.

In the last four or five years, a rubberized coating has been the most popular.

Fennell uses an oil and grease rustproofing method that, as far as he can tell, is unique to his shop.

He said that this type of method is useful because it stays wet throughout its useful life. Other methods stop working as well once they dry, he said.

He recommends that newer vehicles that get moderate use should get rustproofing done every two to three years. For older or more heavily used vehicles, he recommends getting it done annually.

He said that his rustproofing usually costs between $400 and $600.

When he goes to do it, he first removes any existing rust from the car’s underbelly, cleans it off and lets it dry, a process that usually takes a few hours. Then, he sprays the oil and grease mixture onto the car.

Once that is done, Fennell said the car is “road ready.” He said that it may drip a little bit, but that is not a problem.

Oliva said that Diehl uses a process called “Auto Armor,” which is made up of petroleum and wax products.

He said that when Diehl does a rustproofing job, workers clean the car and let it dry. Workers spray the rustproofing material on and let it dry. Oliva said the process usually requires leaving the car overnight at the shop.

He said that rustproofing at Diehl’s cost between $175 for a basic job to $350 for the entire package.

Oliva recommended that people get the rustproofing touched up every year. As long as that happens, the coating should last the life of the car.

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