Tech Talk

Rust 101

The cold months are cruel to a truck’s appearance. Here’s how to keep your ride looking sharp year after year – while putting the nix on cancerous rust

Trucks slathered with grime, grit, dirt and corrosive deicing residue inside and out is the price contractors pay for running trucks in winter. It’s just the nature of the work. But that doesn’t mean you should let that grime sit like a badge of honor until spring arrives.

That’s because clearing winter roads to the bare pavement usually requires de-icing chemicals, and those de-icing methods typically involve the use of salt (sodium chloride) or natural brine (calcium chloride). Both are serious rust makers.

When your pickup is subjected to either form of chloride, the chances of corrosion are greatly accelerated. This is especially true when existing corrosion, like that found in small dents and dings left exposed to the elements, gets exposed to even relatively small amounts of chloride.

The best way to keep salt exposure – and the formation of rust – at bay is to employ preventive measures before it has a chance to do its dirty work.

Ice and cold can ruin untreated wiper blades.

We recommend hitting the car wash several times a week during the winter months, especially if you live in an area that uses de-icing salts or sand on the roads. Automated car washes are ok if they have the high-pressure chassis wash. Otherwise use the one with spray wands that let you get up into the wheel wells and under the truck.

But long-term rust-prevention requires more than just a hose-down. Here are a few specialized products that will help keep winter’s corrosive conditions from doing further damage – and help keep that shine on your rolling office:

Water-less car wash systems make a lot of sense when its below freezing.

* Eastwood Heavy Duty AntiRust is designed to use capillary action to displace moisture and penetrate through existing rust to prevent further moisture and air from reaching the surface. Eastwood Heavy Duty AntiRust is a waxy oily product that eventually dries as hard as candle wax and works well to lubricate internal window mechanisms and leaf springs.

* Rust-Block from Evapo-Rust is a water-based, biodegradable rust inhibitor that comes in a 16-ounce spray bottle, quart, gallon, 5-gallon and 55-gallon drum containers. It will inhibit rust from forming on most metals for up to six months, the company says. It can be applied as a spray or dip or wiped or brushed onto surfaces.

* CRC Industries Salt Terminator Engine Flush, Cleaner & Corrosion Inhibitor cleans and protects anything exposed to salt water, salt air or road salt. It dissolves and rinses away salts while leaving a protective coating behind and excels at removing heavy salt deposits without leaving a residue.

* The Salt Eraser from Matrix System Automotive Finishes removes stubborn salt stains from fabrics such as floorboard carpets and truck upholstery without scrubbing. A dry clean product, it can also take the salt stains out of welcome mats, carpets, rugs and shoes.

* The Portable Waterless Car Wash System from Eco Touch enables you to clean your vehicles with minimal water consumption and without toxic runoff. The cleaning solution is non-toxic, biodegradable and phosphate free. The system is available in three sizes for 30 vehicles up to 1,000 vehicles. The user simply sprays the formula on the car panel and windows one at a time and then wipes the treated areas clean with a microfiber towel.

* Permatex Wiper Restore conditioner cleans and softens wiper blades to make them more flexible resulting in less chatter and squeaking and better performance in the rain.

* Interstate Products’ “1” Step (The Rust Killer) converter treatment neutralizes existing rust and acts as a smooth long lasting primer on both rusted metal and previously painted surfaces. “1” Step (The Rust Killer) can be sanded, top coated, body puttied or left as is. Available in gallon or bulk.

* Rust Bullet’s patented automotive paint permanently stops rust and corrosion. When Rust Bullet is applied over rusted metal the chemical activity in its patented method of protection dehydrates or dries out the rust allowing the resin to solidify into an armor tough coating with phenomenal adhesion. Rust Bullet can be applied directly over both rusted and clean metal requiring little or no surface preparation prior to application.