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Once your car rusts, the damage is permanent Add to ...

I have a 14-year-old car (1997 Nissan Maxima) that’s in good shape mechanically but the body is beginning to show a few rust spots/bubbles – leading edge of the hood, trunk near the spoiler, front fender. I want to keep this car for, say, another five to eight years without it rusting away beneath me. What’s the least expensive way to stop the rust from spreading any further? I don't care about the aesthetics of the car at this point. I've seen a rust-stop product called POR-15. Would this work? -Paul

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I’m afraid it is too late to stop the disease. Once rust has penetrated beneath the surface, the only way to stop further spread is to remove it entirely – physically grind it out leaving bare metal – and then you’ve only got a chance if it hasn’t penetrated further.

Replacing the affected panels with new, painted ones is the best, but very expensive, answer.

As for the product you mention, I have no knowledge of it so cannot recommend it. There are a number of coatings that claim to tackle rust, penetrating beneath the surface and preventing into the metal to prevent spread but quite frankly I don’t think any of them do anything other than delay the end result.

The best – and to my mind only – way to treat rust is to prevent it from getting started.

I have had personal experience with a product called Rust Check which I found to be effective for a period of many years – provided it was re-applied each and every year.

To me, that repeated re-application is the answer. In this climate we live in, nothing can protect forever, things dry out, they shift and move, they must be coated frequently to stop the evil beast.

I also have experience with a number of other rust-prevention “systems” that proved worthless. They were all covered by a money-back warranty – but that $250 or so didn’t go far in the face of thousands of dollars worth of new panels and bodywork!

Bottom line, once rust sets in, it stays. You can sand, prime and slap on some products to hide it – but that is all you are doing.

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