Arizona is a desert climate, which means rain is scarce. However, in a state that is mostly sunshine, rain does fall especially during monsoon season. Monsoon storms create perfect conditions for flash floods. The National Weather Service states that “flash floods can be produced when slow-moving or multiple thunderstorms occur over the same area. When storms move faster, flash flooding is less likely since the rain is distributed over a broader area.” Floods spell bad news for cars. Not only is it dangerous, but even in one foot of water, your car can begin to float and be carried away from rushing flood waters. If your car happens to survive flood waters or damaging effects of heavy rainfall, your car just may rust. Though more common in areas with harsh winters or near ocean waters, your car is susceptible to rusting. Here’s how to tell if your vehicle has been affected by a flash flood and how to prevent the harmful effects to your vehicle afterward.
What Causes Rust?
Eventually, rust will be found somewhere on your car. Like grey hair and wrinkles are common with aging humans, aging cars develop rust. Areas that are more prone to rust, however, are more often found on metal or chrome bumpers. Yet, it’s possible for rust to develop just about anywhere including under the hood. Three factors contribute to the development of rust:
- Weather Conditions
If exposed to the elements, eventually anything made of metal will become wet and cause oxidation, also known as rust. Any exposed metal is susceptible to rusting from large areas of the vehicle down to minor chips and scratches in the paint. The exposed metal is just as vulnerable to sun and extreme temperatures as rain. Neglecting to protect the exterior paint including frequent washes or protection from the sun may also contribute to rust problems. Finally, in coastal areas, oxidation is inevitable. Salt from sea water enters the atmosphere becoming the aggressor against metal objects. Additionally, extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold have similar effects on the vehicle and will cause rust to develop.
How to Prevent Rust on Your Car
Your vehicle’s paint job is the first step in warding off rust damage, it acts as a seal to prevent moisture from penetrating the metal area of the body. Keeping your paint in good condition is the key to keep rust from occurring. Frequent washing and waxing are the best ways to protect your car’s exterior paint. Keep an eye out for scratches, chipping, or bubbling under paint, which are signs of rust development. Chemical treatments are available to seal any damaged areas of your vehicle’s paint. In certain areas of the country, it’s a good idea to purchase lubricant or anti-rust spray as another layer of protection. In areas with icy road conditions, where salt is used to melt ice, cars should be washed more often to remove any salt picked up from the road from the underside of the vehicle and wheel wells.
Signs of Water Damage in Your Car
Maybe your vehicle hasn’t yet developed rust, but you’ve got other problems. If you find yourself asking “why does my car horn sound weak?” or wonder why there is water in the headlights, your vehicle may have experienced significant damages from flood waters or heavy rainfall. Water damage doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your car. Still, you’ll want to ensure you have the vehicle fully inspected and repair or replace affected areas where there is damage. Check both interior and exterior areas including:
- Headlights – Look for water lines on lens or reflectors.
- Carpet – Look for signs of saturated mats including damp, musty odors or stains.
- Wiring – Look for dry, brittle wires.
- Electrical Accessories – Check the function of the horn, radio, windows, and locks.
- Gaps and Panels – Look inside the trunk and under the hood to identify mud, dirt, or other debris.
- Rubber Drain Plugs – Remove drain plugs under the car and doors to drain excess water.
- Oil dipstick – Look for water spots that could indicate water has entered the engine.
Other areas of your vehicle including the electrical system, transmission, and fuel tank are all at risk for permanent damages from flood waters. An expert technician will need to fully inspect your vehicle to ensure it is capable of returning to the road. In cooperation with your insurance company, together they will determine whether your vehicle can be salvaged or totaled. If it is determined that your vehicle is able to be repaired and returned to you, ensure the vehicle is repaired by a qualified mechanic and that all moisture is removed entirely. Even a minor trace of water can cause rust damage around doors, under the dashboard, hood, or trunk and cause the unpleasant odor of mildew.
This monsoon season prepare for the possibility of extreme weather conditions by avoiding flooded areas and only drive when absolutely necessary. The expert technicians here at Sun Devil Auto are familiar with the aftermath that monsoons leave behind and how to properly inspect your vehicle for damages. Bring your vehicle in at any time before or after a monsoon to have your vehicle inspected for your safety. While you may worry about rust on your vehicle, you shouldn’t have to worry about who is working on your vehicle. At Sun Devil Auto, we employ ASE Certified Technicians, with the knowledge and expertise for all areas of vehicle repair and maintenance. Visit any of our many Valley locations any time of year, but especially when monsoons are in the forecast. We’re here to help!