QOTD: Did You Leave It Too Late?
Good morning, all. Your author here just awoke from a nightmare, one whose subject matter should strike fear into the hearts of all vehicle owners. Allow me to describe the dream.
In a rainy and somewhat threatening near future, yours truly noticed something on the rearmost part of his driver’s side rocker panel. A blemish. Maybe dirt or asphalt, I thought, walking over to flick the speck away. Drawing nearer, I realized, to my horror, that this speck wasn’t a foreign object clinging to my vehicle’s blue (why blue?) paint — it was a hole. Around said hole wasn’t dirt, but a heat rash-like spread of surface corrosion. With mounting dread, I fell to the ground, anticipating worse to come underneath.
Sure enough, my fears were realized. Acres of rust and widespread perforation beneath my relatively new vehicle! I had let a silent killer sneak up on me.
The dream ended as I was dashing to the store — literally running, not driving (for some reason) — in search of a few cans of dripless undercoating, and perhaps some body filler, too. I knew, though, that I had already lost the battle and was merely trying to buy myself some time.
Around this salty locale, rust will come for your car just as surely as the executioner’s footsteps will one day echo down the halls of Death Row, stopping outside your cell. The only way to prevent this fate is to get ahead of it — something many people put off until it’s too late.
You’ve probably noticed by now that yours truly is something of a cheapskate. I look at the services offered at my local undercoating place and scoff at their elevated prices, preferring instead to take a haphazard, “this’ll do” approach to rust prevention. My last car (Cruze No. 1) went without it for its first three winters (what lessee is going to pay to undercoat a car they plan on ditching after 36 months?), something that should have ensured an early death. For the next four winters, I merely discharged two or three cans of Coat n’ Protect ($14-$21) at its vulnerable bits, hoping all the while that this skimpy protection was man enough to do its job. Imagine my surprise when, after jacking up the thing for a tire change, I saw damn little corrosion underneath. And after seven salty winters; three of them completely unprotected!
It’s truly not the ’70s anymore. Naturally, I took the same level of precaution with Cruze No. 2, and plan to give the undercarriage another go sometime later this month or early next. Say what you will about GM, but they’ve vastly improved their anti-corrosion efforts in the past decade.
Other owners are not so lucky.
Speaking from experience, many people see in real life what I just experienced in my dream — and by that point, you’re just trying to stave off the inevitable. The corrosion appeared and proliferated in those few years after purchase where you didn’t give much thought to undercoating. Now, your rockers look like the hull of a beached freighter, and your child’s pinky finger could probably poke a hole through the oil pan. You’re boned.
Have you ever ignored rust prevention until it was too late? How quickly did it crop up, and what became of the vehicle?
[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]
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