If you live anywhere other than the dry and sunny Southwest then you know how much of a pain rust can be. Rust is that silent assassin that works night and day, chomping away at all of your exposed metal components. With nothing more than a little iron, oxygen, and water, rust can age even the most modern and well-built rigs in virtually no time at all. But there is a way to fight back and protect your 4x4.
While many late-model rigs are equipped with extremely durable undercoatings and composite materials to better protect the framerails and body, there are still plenty of vulnerable areas. Fighting rust before it becomes an issue is always best. Spray lubricants, routine maintenance, and aftermarket components are just some of the ways to keep your 4x4 from falling apart. Compiled here are some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years to combat rust. If you have some rustproof ideas of your own, go to our forums at www.4wheeloffroad.com to join in the ongoing rust battle debate.
Step By Step
Both high-performance and entry-level shock absorbers often fall victim to rust. Since your rig’s tires are constantly throwing around dirt and debris, your shocks often see accelerated wear, thus leaving the shocks more vulnerable to rust. An easy way to protect and clean your absorbers is by spraying them with WD-40. Using a Scotch-Brite pad with the WD is also helpful to remove corrosion buildup. Daystar also offers new polyurethane shock armor to protect against gravel rash.
A common misconception is that aluminum is immune to corrosion. While aluminum cannot rust, it can still fall victim to galvanic corrosion, pitting, and crevice corrosion. Vehicles near the sea or where road salt is heavily used are at a higher risk. If your aluminum parts are showing signs of corrosion, an excellent way to bring them back to life is to have them sandblasted and then powdercoated. This will seal the surface and give your parts a fresh look.
One upgrade that we’re big fans of is ditching any material that can rust altogether. Fiberglass replacement panels, such as fenders, hoods, and bedsides, are great ways to lighten up your 4x4 and eliminate the risk of rust. While switching to glass isn’t cheap, it is a stylish and extremely effective preventative measure.
Two items that are must-haves for anyone working on a rusty pile is a can of PB Blaster and a butane torch. While the PB works best after it has soaked into the metal for an hour or so, the heat from the torch can heat up stubborn nuts and bolts and break them free in no time.
If you own a truck then chances are you use it for hauling more than just groceries. Drop-in bedliners are nearly standard issue on most pickups these days, but those of you using your beds often and living in the Rust Belt, be cautious. Dirt and debris will make their way under your liner over time. We’ve pulled liners out of older trucks only to discover that rusty holes have formed in the bed. Preventive measures, such as a quality spray-in liner when the truck is new, can save you serious coin in the long run.
Sometimes you have to know when to cut your losses, literally. Don’t spend a ton of time and money repairing rusted-out panels and fenders. LMC Truck www.lmctruck.com and other companies have thousands of OE-quality replacement panels that will bring your truck back to life. The factory didn’t think newspaper and Bondo was a good way to build a truck, and neither should you.
Loctite is a great way to keep a bolt from coming loose, but so is rust. On hardware that gets routine service, be sure to add a small coating of antiseize. This extra step will keep your threads from fusing and will save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road.