Home > Vintage Car Restoration > Rust and Vintage Cars

Rust and Vintage Cars

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 20 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Rust And Vintage Cars

Wear and tear exposure to damp or wet conditions, and wind and rain are all major factors in the appearance of rust on your vintage car. For example a small stone chip, if left untreated, can give way to a whole host of rust-related problems.

Prevention is the Cure

Assuming you haven’t purchased a complete rust bucket to begin with, the best way of dealing with rust in a vintage car is to try and prevent it from actually occurring. Rust is pretty easy to spot if it occurs in large areas, but you should always retain a keen eye and carry out thorough regular checks to try and spot any areas that might be susceptible. These may include the chassis, anywhere on the underside of the car, the bulkhead, along window, door and bonnet seals, floor and door panels, as well as around the mudguards and headlights. Basically a thorough regular inspection of every nook and cranny of the car is the order of the day!

On the positive side, the likelihood is that your vintage car was manufactured with a relatively thick gauge of steel. Therefore any occurrence of rust might not have caused as much damage to the integrity of the structure and panels. However, on the negative side, vintage cars have had more time to accumulate a string of deep-rooted problems. You should always make a point of checking around the hard-to-get-to car components and in and around the engine block and exhaust pipes. Old and weak bodywork panels are also prone to rust, especially around weak joins.

Dirt and mud will contain significant levels of salts, which have corrosive properties. So it stands to reason that where the dirt is left over long periods of time, it will begin to eat into the bodywork, particularly the exposed metal around chips and scratches in the paintwork. Chrome fittings and the bare metal chassis are also at risk. For this reason you should make a habit of regularly cleaning your car after you’ve taken it out for a spin, and making sure that you use protective waxes, grease and polishes once the car has dried. Wax Oil in particular is great for preventing rust, as it thwarts the contact of moisture and salts with the metal. However, ensure that you provide a thorough coating of Wax Oil; otherwise any missed patches are at risk of extensive corrosion.

Think about your car’s storage area too – the ideal situation is a dry, leak-proof, aerated and heated garage or workshop. If all of the above is not possible and the car can only be housed outside, try to at least keep the vehicle in a space that is well ventilated and has some protection from the weather. However, you should note that just partially covering the car whilst it is damp and hindering any air circulation is just providing a perfect breeding ground for rust.

Dealing with Rust

Don’t limit yourself to just working on repairing bare rust patches. Scratches and stone chips should be promptly filled and painted over to prevent any moisture reaching the bare metal. Any bubbling or blown paint should be removed to reveal the extent of the rusting underneath. All rust should be removed until you reach the ‘shiny’ metal before carrying out your repairs.Removing rust is best done with a stiff wire brush. Remember to be mindful of any asbestos particles that may be lurking in areas that accumulate dust. It might be wise to gently and lightly damp down any areas you are intending to scrub, before allowing to completely dry out afterwards.

A rotary wire brush on an electric drill or a file could be used to remove the rust, but again you must be careful as any over-enthusiasm when armed with such tools may actually damage the car! Deep corrosions in the chassis can be cut out and replaced, before being painted. If you find that your car chassis has extensive rust problems, shot blasting is an option, but bear in mind that it can weaken the construction.

Rust converters another option for tackling minor problems. The chemical is brushed directly onto the rust and then converts it into a harmless compound. Whilst it’s great for areas that are particularly fiddly or inaccessible, it only works on the surface. For this reason it’s not really suitable for deeply rusted areas.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I have a 1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville 62 Series 2dr Hardtop 365ci/auto, power windows, power seat, power steering, power brakes, 4 cig lighters/ashtrays, 59k, Orion Blue/Blue interior, Rochester 4-jet carb, anything else you want to know just get back to me.Bought in 1995, won 3rd Place 1955-1960 Stock Class 2009.
SLED06 - 20-Dec-12 @ 4:31 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: