Cape Storm Trashes Cars: How to Protect Your Car From Rust

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A huge winter storm raged in Cape Town this week, bringing rain and near-hurricane-force winds to the Mother City. Many cars parked along the Sea Pont promenade received a wind-blasted foam wash from the raging Atlantic Ocean nearby. It might have been fun and games for the people witnessing nature’s ferocity, but for the cars covered in seafoam, rusty days lie ahead…

Photos by Dieter Pey.

Social media was abuzz on Monday, 13 July 2020, as a wild winter storm made landfall in Cape Town. A tumultuous sea churned seawater into thick foam which was driven over the Sea Point promenade wall by violent waves and high-velocity wind, leaving numerous cars nearby drenched in seawater and seafoam. 

Our very own lensman, Dieter Pey, was in Sea Point to watch and capture the mayhem. Some cars were helplessly caught in the throngs of the storm as nearby streets flooded with seawater and foam. Some people even deliberately drove their cars into the quagmire in the hope of scoring a few likes on Instagram. For the cars in the firing line, however, it was a nightmare... 

Salt is very corrosive and it can be hugely destructive when it comes into contact with metal. It’s a known fact that cars that spend their life at the coast will inevitably succumb to rust far quicker than cars inland. Sea air and indeed seawater are but one of a car’s worst enemies. It goes without saying then, that bringing your car in direct contact with the ocean is never a good idea and if you care about preserving your car, this situation should be avoided at all cost. 

For this reason, let's quickly take a look at what rust is and how you can avoid it...

What is rust, exactly? 

Salt or sodium chloride is a major cause of corrosion and rust. Rust is the result of a chemical reaction whereby the metallic or iron surfaces of your car come into contact with salt and the iron reacts with oxygen and the by-product is iron oxide, which is known as rust. This chemical reaction is sped up in hotter and more humid climates, which explains why cars rust so much faster in places such as Durban which is mostly warm/hot and humid for most of the year. 

Here are a few simple ways to protect your car from rust...

Keep your car out of the sea    

Unless you are utterly daft, don’t ever drive your car on the beach, into the sea or through seafoam. Direct contact with the sea inevitably means that seawater and salt is being spread deep into the body of your vehicle, including the engine bay and underbody, which will ultimately lead to severe corrosion and rust. 

Wash your car often 

The most effective way to prevent rust damage on your car is to wash your car often and keep it clean. Remember that salt moisture off the ocean clings to your car and a regular wash will ensure that your car remains as salt-free as possible. If you can, it’s also advisable to have the underside of your car washed/sprayed to minimise corrosion on your car’s underbody. Have your car's underbody checked for rust the next time you have it serviced, you might be surprised at what you find...

Wax on

Sealing your car’s paintwork with a coat of protective car wax will further help to protect your car against the harsh elements such as the sun, moisture and salt in the air. 

Park your car in a garage or buy a car cover

Park your car in a garage or covered parking if possible as this will help shield your car from the elements. You can also consider buying a car cover if garage parking is not an option. 

Treat rust areas quickly

Exposed metal, chip marks or bonnet and door edges are common areas where rust takes hold. If you see a rust spot, be sure to have it repaired professionally as quickly as you possibly can or else it will soon get worse and deteriorate beyond repair.  

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