Living in a coastal area can be hard on your car, due to salt spray and the salt in the air. The presence of salt increases the likelihood of rust on the exposed parts of your car. Fortunately, you can help guard against this issue by following the tips below.
Tip #1: Keep under cover
One major source of salt is in salt spray or in mist or fog as it settles. This salty residue tends to collect on the hood, trunk, and top of your car, where it can eventually lead to rust. The hood, in particular, is often at risk because the paint in this area is sometimes chipped slightly from gravel and sand on roads. Parking in a garage or under a carport can help protect your car against salt spray and mist. At the very least, you can place a car cover over it when you aren't driving.
Tip #2: Repair damaged paint
Paint provides a barrier against salt. If you get even a small chip that exposes metal, rust can take root and it will expand and extend beneath the paint. The key is to fix any damage as quickly as possible. Buff off any rust that has already appeared with steel wool or a wire brush, and then apply touch-up paint over the area. If you have extensive paint damage, consider having your car repainted.
Tip #3: Have an undercoating applied
Some of the most vulnerable parts of your vehicle are part of your exposed undercarriage. Here rust and corrosion can affect the mechanical soundness of your car, not just its appearance. Have an undercoating applied to seal the undercarriage against salt damage. Undercoatings can last many years, although you will want to have it checked periodically to make sure it is still performing well.
Tip #4: Keep it clean
Finally, take the time to wash your car often to remove the salt that settles on it. This doesn't have to a be a full wash with soap – you can simply spray it down with clear water to rinse away salt residue. Pay special attention to the undercarriage and inside the fenders, which is where salt tends to accumulate. When you do a full wash, also apply a wax afterward to provide an additional layer of protection. This is also a good opportunity to look for any paint damage so you can have it repaired promptly.
For more help, talk to a car care technician in your area.