How to Inspect a Car for Rust

Nov_2015_HowToCheckBuying a used car can be a gamble. In many cases, there are obvious signs that a car is in disrepair. In other cases, the signs are not as clear. Rust is one of the telltale signs on a used car that indicate excessive wear and tear.

Where to Check for Rust on a Vehicle

The first place to check for rust on a car is around the base, near the door frame. This is also called the rocker panel. This is the part of the car that is most exposed to water over time. A rusted door frame can give you a good indication of a car’s age. Also carefully inspect the bottoms of the door seams for any corrosion or splitting.

The frame and chassis of a car is under constant attack from rain, snow, salt and ice. This can cause the hinges, trailer hitches, exhaust pipes and window frames to become rusted. This affects the performance and value of a car, so it is important to check all of these components before you buy a used car.

  • Look under the undercarriage, and check the chassis.
  • Open the car doors, and check the hinges.
  • Lift the hood, and check the metal components inside.

Check the Paint’s Surface

A good inspection for automotive rust will include a thorough inspection of the paint. When the painted surfaces of a car start to rust, you will notice small cracks and nicks in the surface. Soon, a bubble will start to form. This bubble will eventually crack, revealing the rusted panel underneath. This is bound to happen with any car. Even though manufacturers are taking steps to prevent rust for as long as possible, every car will rust eventually.

When checking for vehicle rust, don’t forget about the trunk. This is one of the most commonly overlooked parts of a car when it comes to an auto rust inspection. Look inside the car’s trunk to make sure there isn’t significant rusting in the compartment. Don’t forget to check under the spare tire and in the recessed areas. Water often accumulates in these areas of a car after heavy rains, and can cause lasting damage.

Another problem area on many vehicles can be the front floor, especially on the driver’s side. Moisture and road salt can accumulate through the carpet and will rot away the floor underneath, leading to safety issues and expensive repairs.

When Rust Is a Problem

In many cases, rust is a cosmetic issue. It can, however, become problematic when it starts to compromise a vehicle’s safety or affect the vehicle’s electrical system by eating away wires and causing various expensive electronic and electrical breakdowns.

Quick Checklist When Inspecting a Vehicle

  • Check under the hood. If valves are rusted, this can indicate long-term issues.
  • Check the bottoms of the doors and rocker panels.
  • Check under the floor mats. The car’s floor may be ready to give way. In many cases, the car’s owner will cover this up with strategically placed mats. Lift each one, and thoroughly inspect underneath them.

Newer-model cars are made up of a combination of metal and plastic, so it can be hard to find hidden rust spots. In some cases, the car will look perfect from the outside but a closer inspection will reveal parts that are completely rusty. The key is to give each car a full inspection before you choose to purchase one.

Places to Check for Car Rust

  • Rocker panels
  • Wheel wells
  • Door hinges
  • Trunk compartment
  • Chassis/undercarriage
  • Sunroof
  • Floor panels
  • Bumpers

Dealing with rust in your own car is no picnic. Give it a complete rust inspection, and make sure that you have a good-quality car that will give you years of use.

Pin It on Pinterest