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In my experience, one of the worst things that can happen to a Jeep owner is Jeep frame rust!
Today, I’m going to show you how to prevent your Jeep from rusting and how to do Jeep rust repair yourself.
I hate rust.
Living in a place that gets a lot of snow during the winter means rust is a major part of life — thanks to the salt that city workers lay on the roads every time we get a layer of the white stuff.
If you’re stressing out about Jeep frame rust, you’ve come to the right place.
Whether you’re fighting with mud, rain, road salt or some horrible combination of the three, here are a few ways I’ve found to keep your Jeep from rusting so you can enjoy the trails for years to come.
Where To Look For Rust
You might not see any rust from the driver’s seat, but this horrible substance can be sneaky. You need to know where to look to prevent it from eating your Jeep’s frame from the inside out.
The biggest area that is going to be susceptible to rust is your Jeep’s undercarriage.
Down there, the frame is exposed to the elements. Even if it’s powder-coated on the outside, it’s not going to be rust-proof on the inside.
If you’ve got a hole or two, then you’ve got a problem.
The easiest way to find rust is to give your car a thorough cleaning, then toss it up on some jack stands, ramps, or a lift and take a close look at the undercarriage.
Look at places that could hold water and explore any bare metal that might be starting to show signs of rust.
I’ve found that the tops of some metal parts can sometimes hide water and mud that the tires have kicked up — and that’s prime real estate for rust!
What Causes Rust On A Car?
While we’re looking for rust, let’s quickly address what causes the metal to turn into weak, brittle red powder.
It has to do with a fairly complicated chemical reaction, but I’ll simplify it for you…
- When water comes into contact with iron or other metals, it tends to give up one of its oxygen molecules.
- Oxygen (which is normally found in pairs) bonds quickly to the iron.
- The end result is iron oxide — better known as rust.
Rust isn’t limited to iron though. Unless a metal is naturally corrosion-resistant, that interaction with the oxygen molecules in water can lead to rust. Corrosion-resistant metals include things like aluminum, nickel and their alloys.
How To Prevent Rust On A Car
Now that we know what causes Jeep frame rust, how can you prevent your vehicle from getting devoured by this chemical reaction — especially if you live in an area that uses salt on the roads?
#1 – The first step is the easiest…
Whenever you drive on salted roads or explore muddy trails or just drive down your neighborhood roads on a rainy day, make it a point to wash your Jeep — paying special attention to the undercarriage. Even just hosing it off and letting it dry in the sun can make a world of difference when it comes to preventing rust!
#2 – If washing your Jeep every time you drive it seems like too much of a hassle…
Consider investing in undercarriage coating or paint. These are applied by professionals. They help seal the metal from the elements, preventing rust by keeping water from coming into contact at all.
#3 – If you don’t have the funds to invest in an undercarriage coating…
Do it yourself using Rustoleum Gloss Black spray paint. As long as you’re thorough and don’t leave any spots exposed to the elements, this DIY method could also be effective. To save time, I borrowed a paint sprayer from a friend and used Rustoleum paint to protect my Jeep’s undercarriage for a fraction of the cost of having it done professionally.
If an undercarriage treatment doesn’t fix your rust issue, here’s a good tutorial for how to do your own Jeep rust repair.
The Bottom Line
Whether I’m out on the trail or driving to and from the grocery store, rust on my Jeep is the last thing I want to worry about.
Fixing rust is just about the most expensive thing you can do to a car — short of replacing the entire drive train.
If you get too much rust into your Jeep’s frame, it’s a goner.
Instead of consigning your favorite Jeep to a slow and rusty death, take a few steps to protect it from the unforgiving rigors of Mother Nature.
I love my Jeep. And honestly, while I enjoy the snow, I had been considering moving to a warmer climate to prevent my Jeep from rusting out on salty winter roads.
Luckily I found an option that protects and prevents Jeep frame rust — so I don’t have to worry about that anymore. My Jeep will last for many years rust-free now!
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I’m an automotive journalist, YouTuber, and blogger who babbles about Jeeps, RVs, and other vehicles on the Internet. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my wife and 2 sons, working on our home & lawn, and watching the Pittsburgh Penguins.