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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just a new ascent. I want to keep the car for 10-15 years... its natural life

Rust was a problem on 2 previous cars i owned. I live in the Chicago area and we face plenty of salt in the winter. What are the best general practice tips for preventing rust? Any add-ons that I should get life splash protectors? How often do you all wash your cars?
 

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I undercoated my Ascent. This worked well with my 10-year-old Forester which now shows no signs of rust. I live in the salt belt so rust proofing here is highly recommended if you want to keep a car for as long as possible.

The upper body won't rust if you wax it at least twice a year and repair any scratches promptly. My Forester still looks new.
 

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I’ve read in several places that undercoating is not needed in modern cars and is actually just a wasteful expense as well as added weight
I've owned many new cars over the years, some of which I undercoated, others I didn't. All of the undercoated cars had no rust after five years, all of the untreated cars had rust. I currently own an old Toyota Solara. The engine runs perfectly, the drivetrain is excellent, the interior is still very nice, and the car would still be a valuable asset except for the fact that it was not undercoated and the undercarriage components are suffering failure after failure due only to rust. Rusty brake lines, rusty fuel lines, rusty calipers, rusty gas tank, rusty steering components. I'm going to have to junk it because I can no longer get it inspected. Had I undercoated it, it would still be in very good condition and highly usable, but now it's trash. By contrast, my 10-year-old undercoated Forester has zero rust issues and is in excellent condition.

If you plan to keep your vehicle five years or less, then yes, undercoating is not necessary, the undercarriage components of modern vehicles will last at least that long. If you plan to keep your vehicle as long as you can, then undercoating makes a great deal of sense if you live in an area that salts roads as I do. The added weight is negligible and no issue at all, perhaps a few pounds.

You can undercoat your vehicle yourself for about $100. It's easy, although a bit messy, and only takes a couple of hours. A small price to pay for keeping a car many years longer and preserving its resale value.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've owned many new cars over the years, some of which I undercoated, others I didn't. All of the undercoated cars had no rust after five years, all of the untreated cars had rust. I currently own an old Toyota Solara. The engine runs perfectly, the drivetrain is excellent, the interior is still very nice, and the car would still be a valuable asset except for the fact that it was not undercoated and the undercarriage components are suffering failure after failure due only to rust. Rusty brake lines, rusty fuel lines, rusty calipers, rusty gas tank, rusty steering components. I'm going to have to junk it because I can no longer get it inspected. Had I undercoated it, it would still be in very good condition and highly usable, but now it's trash. By contrast, my 10-year-old undercoated Forester has zero rust issues and is in excellent condition.

If you plan to keep your vehicle five years or less, then yes, undercoating is not necessary, the undercarriage components of modern vehicles will last at least that long. If you plan to keep your vehicle as long as you can, then undercoating makes a great deal of sense if you live in an area that salts roads as I do. The added weight is negligible and no issue at all, perhaps a few pounds.

You can undercoat your vehicle yourself for about $100. It's easy, although a bit messy, and only takes a couple of hours. A small price to pay for keeping a car many years longer and preserving its resale value.
How old is your Solara? My cars with rust issues were pre-2006, after which most cars (so I read) have been made with galvanized steel and will not typically rust in the same way.

Another question, if undercoating were so important, why wouldn't car makers just do it in the factory?
 

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How old is your Solara? My cars with rust issues were pre-2006, after which most cars (so I read) have been made with galvanized steel and will not typically rust in the same way.

Another question, if undercoating were so important, why wouldn't car makers just do it in the factory?
My Solara is a 2002. However, look underneath virtually any untreated post-2006 older vehicle in the salt belt and tell me if you don't see rust. When I compare my undercoated 2010 Forester to others the same age, the difference is night and day. Keep in mind, we're not just talking the undercarriage itself, but also the many critical undercarriage components (brake, steering, fuel, electrical, suspension, etc.) which will be too expensive to practically all replace once the car is old.

Car makers do apply rust prevention at the factory, because they know it's very important. It just doesn't last as long as with undercoating and doesn't cover many undercarriage components. Most rust warranties on modern vehicles are for only five years. The combination of factory rust prevention and undercoating will give you 10 years or longer rust prevention. This is why it's very important to apply rust proofing as soon as possible after you buy a new car. Applying it after the rust has started is usually too late.

I'm not advocating for the $800 rust-preventive packages the dealers offer. Those can be rip-offs because they grossly overcharge and often use the wrong rust proofing and apply it poorly. I'm advocating doing it yourself using MIL-spec rustproofing which the military uses on their vehicles and paying only about $100. This is well worth it for people planning to keep their vehicles many, many years and will definitely pay for itself many times over.

I usually agree with Consumer Reports and I often quote them myself, but in this case they're talking generalities which are perfectly valid for typical car buyers who trade in their vehicles regularly. Like I said, if you plan to keep your car for only around five years or so as many people do, then undercoating is not necessary. This is specifically for people who live in the salt belt and who want to keep their vehicles for as long as possible and/or want to preserve the value as much as possible and reduce expensive undercarriage component repairs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I looked into this as DIY project and I think it's beyond me. I wouldn't want to do it wrong. Were I to get a professional to do it, how would you recommend I find someone who won't rip me off and who will do it right?
 

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I'm thinking that one of these days it might not be a bad idea for my Ascent as well, because while we don't live in the salt belt, I will have occasion to drive it on the beach, and even some standing water on Hatteras Island after storms, which often contain a high percentage of salt water.
 

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I looked into this as DIY project and I think it's beyond me. I wouldn't want to do it wrong. Were I to get a professional to do it, how would you recommend I find someone who won't rip me off and who will do it right?
It shouldn't be beyond you, basically, all you need to do is purchase the right product as well as some personal protection for your eyes and breathing, and then spray most of the undercarriage with the exception of the driveshaft, brake rotors, and exhaust. On the Ascent, also be sure to first remove the spare tire. There are many YouTube videos on applying rustproofing and what you should and should not spray. The military grade undercoating I use is available in spray cans so anyone can use it without special equipment. The Ascent is so high off the ground, it's very easy to get underneath it with no jacks. You don't need to disassemble anything or drill any holes. On a scale of 1-10, this job is only about a 2. However, it is an unpleasant and messy job and I can see that it wouldn't appeal to a lot of people so it's perfectly understandable if someone did not want to do it.

The issue with getting it done elsewhere is the rip-off factor. Many places charge way too much, use cheap undercoating, and don't do a good job which is why many people don't think too highly of undercoating and why it unfairly got a bad rep over the years. To find a legitimate rust proofing place using quality materials and quality applications can be challenging. Whenever I need to have something done which I can't or won't do myself, I usually check for online reviews for my area. A good place to start is the Better Business Bureau. Here is the BBB Listing for Chicago for rustproofing. Here are some Yelp reviews. You get the idea. Search Google for "Chicago auto rustproofing" to get more listings. Find a place with a solid reputation and a fair price. You shouldn't need to pay more than $300-$400 or so.

I'd try to avoid auto dealers and large chains and instead look for a smaller local outfit who does this regularly, charges a fair price, stands behind their work, and has an excellent reputation. Ask what product they use and how they apply it and if they offer any kind of a written warranty. Opt for an amber translucent petroleum wax coating. These are very tough, self-healing, and almost indestructible. And unlike light oil or black, rubber based undercoatings, the best ones can last ten years or more without having to reapply.

With a little due diligence, you should be able to find a trustworthy place.
 
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