I have been a Japanese car buyer for years, going back to the rusty old days of the '70s - which failed to deter me from picking up my favourite car, the venerable Z-car. I've owned every generation and wish I still had an example of each in my garage. Isn't hindsight great?
To Datsun/Nissan's credit, there has been a real change because it doesn't seem to have the same rust issues that it used to. What's changed?
Good observation, Ron. I'm surprised more people haven't noticed the job Japanese manufacturers are doing when it comes to corrosion control because, as you mentioned, back in the day they had a terrible reputation.
Although rust is bad for cars, it's interesting how it forms. Whole industries have been built on rust because - like a lot of things - once understood, it can be easier to deal with.
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Simply put, rust is a loose term used to describe corrosion. Although it's used as a catch-all, the term isn't completely correct as the word is used synonymously to describe the corrosion process of iron whereas a car's body panel could involve the corrosion of iron, aluminum, high strength steel, stainless steel, etc.
The greater the difference in metals, the more the corrosion - to a point.
What takes place is a change in the chemical makeup of a metal. With a car, which is mostly iron, it is trying to change back to its natural state - iron oxide or rust. This process happens as the result of water coming into contact with unprotected metal. And any time different metals are used next to each other, the rusting process, or galvanic action, happens faster. Water acts exactly like electrolyte and the two dissimilar metals act like the materials inside a battery. Literally, electricity is created. It's this electricity that causes the corrosion. Add to this the super-conductivity of salt water and ... well, you get the picture.
Don't know what to get him? Why not accessorize dear old dad's car?
Electricity is the movement of electrons and if you remember high school chemistry, electrons are part of the make-up of all substances. The problem in this case is that movement of electrons means that some of the particles that make up the metals are causing the metal to change its properties - rust.
Back in the day of trimming a car body with aluminum or stainless steel, you would have noticed rust forming where these metals met on the body. This meant that water must have been present to act as a conductor for the electrons in the different metals. The greater the difference in the chemical make-up of these metals usually meant a faster reaction (fast-acting rust).
Auto manufacturers fought this problem by treating the metals - dipping the body of a vehicle into a paint coating that protected the metal by preventing water from coming in direct contact with the metals. Some spray these protective coatings onto the body before the final coat of colour is applied. Others use materials that do not release electrons easily such as rubber and plastic.
So Ron, the manufacturers' hindsight has provide insight to project foresight to prevent rust from happening the way it used to back in the day.
Makes you glad they don't build 'em like they used to.