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Rustproofing is the prevention or delay of rusting of iron and steel objects, or the permanent protection against corrosion. Typically, the protection is achieved by a process of surface finishing or treatment. Depending on mechanical wear or environmental conditions, the degradation may not be stopped completely, unless the process is periodically repeated.[ not verified in body ] The term is particularly used in the automobile industry.[ citation needed ]


Vehicle rustproofing


In the factory, car bodies are protected with special chemical formulations.

Typically[ according to whom? ], phosphate conversion coatings were used.[ when? ][ by whom? ] Some firms galvanized part or all of their car bodies before the primer coat of paint was applied.[ citation needed ] If a car is body-on-frame, then the frame (chassis) must also be rustproofed. In traditional automotive manufacturing of the early- and mid-20th century, paint was the final part of the rustproofing barrier between the body shell and the atmosphere, except on the underside. On the underside, an underseal rubberized or PVC-based coating was often sprayed on.[ when? ] These products will be breached eventually and can lead to unseen corrosion that spreads underneath the underseal. Old 1960s and 1970s rubberized underseal can become brittle on older cars and is particularly liable to this.[ citation needed ]

The first electrodeposition primer was developed in the 1950s, but were found to be impractical for widespread use. Revised cathodic automotive electrocoat primer systems were introduced in the 1970s that markedly reduced the problem of corrosion that had been experienced by a vast number of automobiles in the first seven decades of automobile manufacturing. Termed e-coat, "electrocoat automotive primers are applied by totally submerging the assembled car body in a large tank that contains the waterborne e-coat, and the coating is applied through cathodic electrodeposition. This assures nearly 100% coverage of all metal surfaces by the primer. The coating chemistry is waterborne enamel based on epoxy, an aminoalcohol adduct, and blocked isocyanate, which all crosslink on baking to form an epoxy-urethane resin system. [1]

E-coat resin technology, combined with the excellent coverage provided by electrodeposition, provides one of the more effective coatings for protecting steel from corrosion. For modern automobile manufacturing after the 1990s, nearly all cars use e-coat technology as base foundation for their corrosion protection coating system. [1]


Aftermarket kits are available to apply rustproofing compounds both to external surfaces and inside enclosed sections, for example sills/rocker panels (see monocoque), through either existing or specially drilled holes. The compounds are usually wax-based and can be applied by aerosol can, brush, low pressure pump up spray, or compressor fed spray gun.

An alternative for sills/rocker panels is to block drain holes and simply fill them up with wax and then drain most of it out (the excess can be stored and reused), leaving a complete coating inside. Anti-rust wax like phosphoric acid based rust killers/neutralizers can also be painted on already rusted areas. Loose or thick rust must be removed before anti-rust wax like Waxoyl or a similar product is used.[ original research? ]

Structural rust (affecting structural components which must withstand considerable forces) should be cut back to sound metal and new metal welded in, or the affected part should be completely replaced. Wax may not penetrate spot-welded seams or thick rust effectively. A thinner (less viscous) mineral-oil-based anti-rust product followed by anti-rust wax can be more effective.[ according to whom? ] Application is easier in hot weather rather than cold because even when pre-heated, the products are viscous and don't flow and penetrate well on cold metal.[ citation needed ]

Aftermarket "underseals" can also be applied. They are particularly useful in high-impact areas like wheel arches. There are two types - drying and non-drying. The hardening and drying products are also known as "Shutz" and "Anti Stone Chip" with similar potential problems to the original factory underseals.[ citation needed ] These are available in black, white, grey and red colors and can be overpainted. These are best used for the area below the bumpers on cars that have painted metal body work in that location, rather than modern plastic deep bumpers. The bitumen based products do not dry and harden, so they cannot become brittle, like the confusingly named "Underbody Seal with added Waxoyl" made by Hammerite, which can be supplied in a Shutz type cartridge labelled "Shutz" for use with a Shutz compressor fed gun. [2] Mercedes bodyshops use a similar product supplied by Mercedes-Benz. [3] There are many manufacturers of similar products at varying prices, these are regularly group tested and reviewed in the classic car magazine press.

The non drying types contain anti-rust chemicals similar to those in anti-rust waxes. Petroleum-based rust-inhibitors provide several benefits, including the ability to creep over metal, covering missed areas.[ citation needed ] Additionally, a petroleum, solvent-free rust inhibitor remains on the metal surface, sealing it from rust-accelerating water and oxygen. Other benefits of petroleum-based rust protection include the self-healing properties that come naturally to oils, which helps undercoatings to resist abrasion caused by road sand and other debris. The disadvantage of using a petroleum-based coating is the film left over on surfaces, rendering these products too messy for top side exterior application, and unsafe in areas where it can be slipped on. They also cannot be painted.[ citation needed ]

There are aftermarket electronic "rustproofing" technologies claimed to prevent corrosion by "pushing" electrons into the car body, to limit the combination of oxygen and iron to form rust. The loss of electrons in paint is also claimed to be the cause of “paint oxidisation” and the electronic system is also supposed to protect the paint. [4] However, there is no peer reviewed scientific testing and validation supporting the use of these devices and corrosion control professionals find they do not work. [5] [6]

Rate of corrosion

The rate at which vehicles corrode is dependent upon:[ original research? ]

Rustproof alloys

Stainless steel, also known as "inox steel" does not stain, corrode, or rust as easily as ordinary steel. Pierre Berthier, a Frenchman, was the first to notice the rust-resistant properties of mixing chromium with alloys in 1821, which led to new metal treating and metallurgy processes, and eventually the creation of usable stainless steel. DeLorean cars had a fiberglass body structure with a steel backbone chassis, along with external brushed stainless-steel body panels.

Some cars have been made from aluminum, which may be more corrosion resistant than steel when exposed to water, but not to salt or certain other chemicals.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Galvanization process of coating steel or iron with zinc to prevent rusting

Galvanization or galvanizing is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel or iron, to prevent rusting. The most common method is hot-dip galvanizing, in which the parts are submerged in a bath of molten hot zinc.

Paint Pigment applied over a surface that dries as a solid film

Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after application to a substrate in a thin layer, converts to a solid film. It is most commonly used to protect, color, or provide texture to objects. Paint can be made or purchased in many colors—and in many different types, such as watercolor or synthetic. Paint is typically stored, sold, and applied as a liquid, but most types dry into a solid. Most paints are either oil-based or water-based and each has distinct characteristics. For one, it is illegal in most municipalities to discard oil-based paint down household drains or sewers. Clean-up solvents are also different for water-based paint than they are for oil-based paint. Water-based paints and oil-based paints will cure differently based on the outside ambient temperature of the object being painted Usually, the object being painted must be over 10 °C (50 °F), although some manufacturers of external paints/primers claim they can be applied when temperatures are as low as 2 °C (35 °F).

Rust Type of iron oxide

Rust is an iron oxide, a usually reddish-brown oxide formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the catalytic presence of water or air moisture. Rust consists of hydrous iron(III) oxides (Fe2O3·nH2O) and iron(III) oxide-hydroxide (FeO(OH), Fe(OH)3), and is typically associated with the corrosion of refined iron.

Corrosion Gradual destruction of materials by chemical reaction with its environment

Corrosion is a natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable form such as oxide, hydroxide, carbonate or sulfide. It is the gradual destruction of materials by chemical and/or electrochemical reaction with their environment. Corrosion engineering is the field dedicated to controlling and preventing corrosion.

Hot-dip galvanization Process of coating iron or steel with molten zinc

Hot-dip galvanization is a form of galvanization. It is the process of coating iron and steel with zinc, which alloys with the surface of the base metal when immersing the metal in a bath of molten zinc at a temperature of around 450 °C (842 °F). When exposed to the atmosphere, the pure zinc (Zn) reacts with oxygen (O2) to form zinc oxide (ZnO), which further reacts with carbon dioxide (CO2) to form zinc carbonate (ZnCO3), a usually dull grey, fairly strong material that protects the steel underneath from further corrosion in many circumstances. Galvanized steel is widely used in applications where corrosion resistance is needed without the cost of stainless steel, and is considered superior in terms of cost and life-cycle. It can be identified by the crystallization patterning on the surface (often called a "spangle").

Cathodic protection Corrosion prevention technique

Cathodic protection is a technique used to control the corrosion of a metal surface by making it the cathode of an electrochemical cell. A simple method of protection connects the metal to be protected to a more easily corroded "sacrificial metal" to act as the anode. The sacrificial metal then corrodes instead of the protected metal. For structures such as long pipelines, where passive galvanic cathodic protection is not adequate, an external DC electrical power source is used to provide sufficient current.

Electrophoretic deposition

Electrophoretic deposition (EPD), is a term for a broad range of industrial processes which includes electrocoating, cathodic electrodeposition, anodic electrodeposition, and electrophoretic coating, or electrophoretic painting. A characteristic feature of this process is that colloidal particles suspended in a liquid medium migrate under the influence of an electric field (electrophoresis) and are deposited onto an electrode. All colloidal particles that can be used to form stable suspensions and that can carry a charge can be used in electrophoretic deposition. This includes materials such as polymers, pigments, dyes, ceramics and metals.

Japan black is a lacquer or varnish suitable for many substrates but known especially for its use on iron and steel. It is so named due to the history of black lacquer being associated in the West with products from Japan. Its high bitumen content provides a protective finish that is durable and dries quickly. This allowed japan black to be used extensively in the production of automobiles in the early 20th century in the United States. It can also be called japan lacquer and Brunswick black. Used as a verb, japan means "to finish in japan black." Thus japanning and japanned are terms describing the process and its products.

A coating is a covering that is applied to the surface of an object, usually referred to as the substrate. The purpose of applying the coating may be decorative, functional, or both.

Primer (paint)

A primer or undercoat is a preparatory coating put on materials before painting. Priming ensures better adhesion of paint to the surface, increases paint durability, and provides additional protection for the material being painted.

Fusion bonded epoxy coating, also known as fusion-bond epoxy powder coating and commonly referred to as FBE coating, is an epoxy-based powder coating that is widely used to protect steel pipe used in pipeline construction from corrosion. It is also commonly used to protect reinforcing bars and on a wide variety of piping connections, valves etc. FBE coatings are thermoset polymer coatings. They come under the category of protective coatings in paints and coating nomenclature. The name fusion-bond epoxy is due to resigning cross-link and the application method, which is different from a conventional paint. In 2020 the market size was quoted at 12 billion dollars.

The salt spray test is a standardized and popular corrosion test method, used to check corrosion resistance of materials and surface coatings. Usually, the materials to be tested are metallic and finished with a surface coating which is intended to provide a degree of corrosion protection to the underlying metal.


Ziebart International Corporation is a privately owned corporation based in Troy, Michigan, and is the worldwide franchisor of the Ziebart brand of automotive aftermarket stores.

Phosphate conversion coating is a chemical treatment applied to steel parts that creates a thin adhering layer of iron, zinc, or manganese phosphates, to achieve corrosion resistance, lubrication, or as a foundation for subsequent coatings or painting. It is one of the most common types of conversion coating. The process is also called phosphate coating, phosphatization, phosphatizing, or phosphating. It is also known by the trade name Parkerizing, especially when applied to firearms and other military equipment.

Marinisation is design, redesign, or testing of products for use in a marine environment. Most commonly, it refers to use and long-term survival in harsh, highly corrosive salt water conditions. Marinisation is done by many manufacturing industries worldwide including many military organisations, especially navies.

Automotive paint

Automotive paint is paint used on automobiles for both protection and decoration purposes. Water-based acrylic polyurethane enamel paint is currently the most widely used paint for reasons including reducing paint's environmental impact.

Conservation and restoration of iron and steel objects

Iron, steel, and ferrous metals constitute a large portion of collections in museums. The conservation and restoration of iron and steel objects is an activity dedicated to the preservation and protection of objects of historical and personal value made from iron or steel. When applied to cultural heritage this activity is generally undertaken by a conservator-restorer. Historically, objects made from iron or steel were created for religious, artistic, technical, military and domestic uses. Though it is generally not possible to completely halt deterioration of any object, the act of conservation and restoration strives to prevent and slow the deterioration of the object as well as protecting the object for future use. One of the first steps in caring for iron is to examine them and determine their state, determine if they are corroding, and consider options for treatment.

According to EN 13523-0, a prepainted metal is a ‘metal on which a coating material has been applied by coil coating’. When applied onto the metallic substrate, the coating material forms a film possessing protective, decorative and/or other specific properties.

Zinc flake coatings are non-electrolytically applied coatings, which provide good protection against corrosion. These coatings consist of a mixture of zinc and aluminium flakes, which are bonded together by an inorganic matrix.

Galvanic corrosion Electrochemical process in which one metal corrodes preferentially when it is in electrical contact with another

Galvanic corrosion is an electrochemical process in which one metal corrodes preferentially when it is in electrical contact with another, in the presence of an electrolyte. A similar galvanic reaction is exploited in primary cells to generate a useful electrical voltage to power portable devices.


  1. 1 2 "A Brief History of Automotive Coatings Technology". American Coatings Association. 2020. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  2. "Underbody Seal".
  3. "hammerite underseal with waxoil (Black stuff) [Archive] - Mercedes-Benz Owners' Forums".
  4. Tom Green (17 August 2016). "FAQ - Is the electronic system environmentally friendly?". Downey Street Rushproofing. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  5. NACE International Article Electronic Rust Prevention
  6. Baboian, R., "State of the Art in Automobile Cathodic Protection," SAE Technical Paper 912270, 1991, doi:10.4271/912270