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Focus on: Rust - Spotting The Signs

Rust is the enemy of any vehicle owner, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the road for your car. Last week, we talked through the causes and different types of rust; this week, we will take a closer look at how you can spot rust before it's too late. Aside from actually being able to see the rust, there are a few key signs to look out for:

Bubbling or peeling paint

Bubbles or peeling patches are telling you that the paint is no longer in contact with the metal panel. The reason for this is usually because water and air have gathered underneath the paint, forcing it to bubble up. Watch this space as rust will emerge shortly.

Interior damp

Any kind of unexplained damp in the footwells or boot can be a sign that the bottom of your vehicle has rusted. If you notice damp carpets check for leaks first. If you can’t spot an obvious reason, take a look under the vehicle or head to your local garage to check it out.

Damaged body or paintwork

If you have dents, scratches or nicks in your bodywork, they can leave you vulnerable to rust. Take your vehicle to a bodywork specialist for a quote on fixing the problem before it gets worse.

Patchy paintwork

If your vehicle has been previously used and you notice patches of slightly mismatched paintwork, it is worth getting it checked out in case the patches are the result of a quick rust repair. Ask your local garage to check that the repair has been done properly.

It can help to know the signs of rust both to maintain your vehicle as well as when buying a second-hand car. If you notice any of the above signs when looking at a car, ask the owner or car dealership about the problem and what they have done to fix it.

If you spot signs that rust has been treated or covered up, it is worth asking for a reduction in price. Whether you will be successful or not will depend on whether the vehicle’s price already reflects its condition. If in doubt, ask an independent garage or bodywork specialist for advice.

Before sealing the deal, make sure that you are aware of the extent of the damage and the cost of treating the rust. Surface rust on paint is easy to treat and repair – just ask your local garage for a quote. However, more serious damage could compromise the vehicle’s structure and in this case buying the vehicle – even if it is a bargain – may be a false economy. A skilled bodywork specialist doesn’t come cheap and if the damage is too expensive, you may be hit with a bill for replacement parts. As always, if a car deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, so don’t buy in haste as you will probably regret it in the long run.

For more advice, check out our next blog, where we go into more detail about fixing and preventing rust; just join our community of trusted local garages and customers on Facebook or Twitter.

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