One of the perils of purchasing or indeed owning an older car is the worry about it all turning to rust before your very eyes. Whether you already own a classic, or are thinking 2019 might be the year to get behind the wheel of a vehicle from yesteryear, take a read through our top 5 guide to see where they like to rust, and of course some suggestions on how to stop and fix it.
1. Rust around the windscreen
The problem with having a nice rubber seal around your windscreen glass, is that should any moisture get in behind it, it can’t get back out again. In a bid for freedom, it starts to eat away at the metal it is stuck against, until a rust hole appears. Signs of this could be a bulge in the bottom corners of your windscreen rubber, or a wet carpet or puddle appearing in the footwells below the screen. The best solution is to take the windscreen out, and inspect the damage. You may get away with a small repair, or you might need a complete windscreen repair panel, like these for the Golf Mk1 or the Bay Window.
2. Death by battery
The issue is two fold when it comes to corrosion on the battery tray. Firstly old batteries can leak and the acid once spilt starts to corrode the metal platform that your portable power source sits upon. Secondly, the car battery is often located in an area that can be a water trap – under the scuttle panel, or at the side of the engine bay above the wheel arch, making it prone to attack from the weather and a lack of being kept clean. The good news is replacements are available for most models such as the VW Beetle and the Bay Window battery tray which can be found here.
3. Jacking the box
Every classic car will have a designated area for mechanics and DIY’ers to raise it up using a trolley jack. Sadly this is often done without due care and attention, with the jacking point slowly being skinned of its paint and protective underseal, leaving exposed metal open to the elements. As it’s not something you check frequently, your car could spend months at a time with road salt and moisture feeding on this bare metal: ultimately the structural integrity will be comprimised and the jacking point could fail. Replacement jacking points are pretty cheap and relatively simple to fit. You can find them for T25 and Mk2 Golf models here.
4. Rotten Sills
Located below your doors, the sills or ‘rocker panels’ as they are sometimes referred to are another classic corrosion hotspot. Situated low down they are a target for stone chips, contain a lovely big cavity to capture moisture and hold road salt and tend to only ever receive a passing glance from a sponge come car wash time. Beware of plastic sill covers, like those found on the Mk2 and Mk3 Golf GTI models and Scirocco Mk2 too – these could be hiding a multitude of sins, and you might never know! From a DIY point of view look for a wax based product to pump into the cavities to keep your sills protected, and make sure they are kept clean.
5. Rear Corners
At the back of the rear wheel arch is a mega mud trap! All the dirt that your road wheels kick up is collected here, and in most cases left to linger. Given the chance, it’ll happily eat away at the metalwork until you have a big hole, or worst still nothing left! Stick the hose in there next time you give your classic a clean, and watch what falls out! Find VW Type 2 rear corners here.
We could have written a book on this subject, but we hope this article has given you a small amount of inspiration to either check your classic or to take extra caution when purchasing a new project to prevent any nasties coming to light a few months down the line. Good luck!