Study provides consumer-oriented metric for measuring vehicle corrosion
University of Windsor researchers have been working with Krown Rust Control as part of an ongoing study that aims to provide a consumer-oriented metric for measuring vehicle corrosion.
Researchers photograph and measure cars and trucks in a controlled setting and analyze the data.
The results speak for themselves: Vehicles not treated by Krown Rust Control showed nearly seven times more visible corrosion on body panels, and 3.6 times more corrosion on underbody parts than treated vehicles.
Beyond seven years old, the differences become even more significant.
So, why study this?
“In 2013, Krown came to us at the University of Windsor with the interest of finding a way to scientifically show how corrosion treatment is effective in preventing the development and progression of rust,” says Dr. Susan Beaulieu, a Ph.D. and research associate at the University of Windsor’s department of civil and environmental engineering.
“To do this, we had to come up with a methodology to record, identify, measure and compare the rust on corroded vehicle parts, on both treated and untreated vehicles. Based on our review of existing literature and previous research, this had not been done before.
“The methodology we developed and used has allowed us to demonstrate that untreated vehicles have significantly more corrosion on them than Krown-treated vehicles.”
Underbody even more vulnerable
The study also indicated the need for careful and regular protection of the vehicle underside, in addition to protection applied to the body panels, since rust treatments applied to the vehicle underside are more vulnerable to sandblasting, moisture, chemicals, and other elements that wear them down.
Unlike other treated areas of your vehicle, the underside is exposed, with little to protect the corrosion inhibitors from wearing out or washing away over time.
Maintain safety, appearance and resale value
Giving your vehicle a corrosion-inhibiting treatment is a good idea for a wide range of reasons. It helps your vehicle last longer, look better, and stay rust-free for more of its life.
Preventing rust can also have a direct impact on the safety of whatever you drive. It also saves you money.
“Obviously, a vehicle that is rust free is much more valuable than one that’s rusty,” says Craig Shuttleworth, Krown marketing director.
“Though most rust can be repaired, there is a cost involved and, often, the rust comes back. Rust itself is an indicator that a vehicle was not taken care of, so many people shy away from buying something with rust.”
Kelley Blue Book even considers rust and corrosion in its used-vehicle rating system, which is used by dealers and consumers to help assess used-car value.
To achieve the Kelley Blue Book’s top “excellent” rating, the vehicle must be free of rust. Even achieving the lesser “good” rating requires that the vehicle be virtually rust-free.
Vehicles in “fair” or “poor” condition, which are worth progressively less money, may fall into these categories for several reasons, including the presence of above-minimal levels of rust.
Here’s a real-world example from the driveway of your correspondent: I recently decided I’d trade my 2009 Subaru Forester in for something newer. My calculations determined that this machine was worth about $6,500-$7,000 with its current mileage, though I was only offered $3,500 after a trade-in inspection — or about half what I was expecting.
The main reason? Rust. Though the body looks great from the outside, the rockers had corroded massively and the rust was spreading into the floor and other nearby areas.
Extended life will save you money
I’d never oil-sprayed my beloved Forester, having incorrectly assumed that a modern vehicle didn’t require it, because of advances in steel technology.
Shuttleworth comments “although the quality of materials used on modern vehicles has improved, the chemicals and de-icing products used on our roads are more aggressive than ever. These chemicals will attack not just metal, but also wiring and electronic components.”
I’d saved about $700 by not having my Subaru “Krowned” annually for the four years I owned it, though preventable rust resulted in a roughly $3,000 hit to its resale value.
“Oh, you can easily tell the vehicles that are treated by a rust-proofing product and the ones that aren’t,” says John Kennard, an auto service technician. “Over the years, I’ve had to condemn several older vehicles, informing the customer that they aren’t safe to drive and aren’t worth repairing because of rust that’s eaten up the vehicle’s structure. These vehicles would usually last a few more years had they been treated.
“Even last month, I had to show a customer how their Ford minivan had lost most of its front sub-frame mounting points to rust. This van was totalled, not from an accident, but by rust. If it had been treated, they’d still be driving it.”
Even on a new or newer vehicle, rust treatment is a good idea and even on a vehicle with a great corrosion warranty and added built-in protection, like modern Volkswagens. Some dealers even tell customers, as a selling point, that they never need to have their new Volkswagen oil-sprayed.
“Volkswagen does have a corrosion warranty and their own protection product,” says Craig Shuttleworth. However, an annual Krown treatment is a superior way to protect your VW, especially in Canada. An annual visit to Krown will give you a warranty against corrosion that will never end, unlike the limited length of the dealer corrosion warranty. For this reason, Krown protects thousands of Volkswagens every year.”
There’s some debate around the best time to have a vehicle rust treated. Ideally, this should be done immediately after purchase and, if possible, in warm weather, perhaps in late spring or early summer.
“In new cars, corrosion begins soon as the vehicle is exposed to the elements, so treatment is best applied as soon as possible. We’ve seen “new” vehicles that are already showing corrosion on their door seams,” Shuttleworth says.
Corrosion science of the East Coast
For readers on the East Coast, I asked some experts if cars actually rust faster out on that side of the country. The answer is yes and there are several reasons why.
“This is more anecdotal and based on the average age of a vehicle,” suggests Steve Fletcher, executive director of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association, and managing director of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada.
“The salt in the air is probably only an issue when vehicles are directly exposed to salt water spray virtually immediately along the coast. The more likely explanation relates to the amount of snow the area receives and their use of salt on the roads. So, no science to it, just a myriad of factors — all pointing toward — get your vehicle rust protected.”
But according to Dr. Sawyer-Beaulieu, there is some science involved.
“Salty moist air can indeed accelerate vehicle corrosion, with water being the enabler of the corrosion and salt acting as the “accelerator,” so to speak,” Dr. Sawyer-Beaulieu. “When it comes to rust, water is the worst offender. With or without salt, the presence of water will facilitate the oxidation of cast iron and carbon steel if the surfaces of these metals are exposed to the moisture.
“The paint coatings used on the steel body panels of vehicles, for example, help protect the surfaces from corroding. If the coatings become damaged, however, such as with scratches or pitting, and the steel underneath becomes directly exposed to moisture, corrosion is likely to occur.”
Keep it around
“The important thing to remember when it comes to end-of-vehicle life is that by preventing corrosion and keeping a vehicle looking and running better, it stays on the road longer and therefore the harmful components that cannot be recycled are kept out of landfill sites,” adds Shuttleworth.
Thankfully, even if your vehicle is badly corroded, much of it is still easily recyclable at the end of its life.
I asked Fletcher if badly-rusted metal is recyclable, or not.
“Rusty metal is 100 per cent recyclable — it’s just oxidized iron,” Fletcher replied.
“The shredder doesn’t care at all.”
A few bucks a year (annual Krown treatments range from about $130 to $150) can go a long way to keeping your vehicle safely on the road — and out of Fletcher’s shredder — for longer.