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Car Restoration Project? How to Determine If That Rust Is an Inconvenience or a Game-Changer

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Many people crave the days of yore and hate the "sameness" of today's automobile design. If you feel the same way, you may have been looking for a period vehicle and have been searching the classifieds or forums for some time. If you find such a vehicle, you'll want to make sure that it's a worthy buy. But how can you tell whether the corrosion is fixable, or whether you should move onto the next?

Facts of Life

Unless they stored to the vehicle in a hermetically sealed bubble, corrosion was inevitable. Older vehicles may be more susceptible to this, and no matter what, you will probably need to deal with rust if you are going to buy a fixer-upper. Still, you can classify rust in several different ways, and you will have to take a very close look at the vehicle to see how bad the situation really is.

Surface Rust

If you're lucky, the corrosion may only affect the exterior of the vehicle and may appear around any small nicks or dents in each panel. Here, the protective paint may have been disturbed, and the rust took hold during storage. This would be a best-case scenario, and before you jump to any conclusion, you should do some further exploration.

Halfway House

Have a look behind the outward-facing panels or underneath the bonnet and down towards the chassis rails. If you can see more prevalent rust here, it may have scaled through the protective outer core and begun to eat its way into the metal itself. Again, you can fix this if you have the know-how and the right tools, and it may not be a game-changer.

Full Penetration

If, however, you can see more of the brown stuff than the original paint itself, it may have begun to penetrate through the entire panel or, in the worst-case scenario, through the chassis itself. This type of rust is usually more prevalent along the undercarriage as the metal surface here would have been damaged by road debris and rock salt over the years.

Expert Input

It can often be difficult to determine how extensive any rust is. In this case, bring in a body restoration expert to help you and before you decide to buy. They will be able to take a closer look and, through experience, tell you how much it would cost and how long it would take to restore. You will be able to make your decision, strike a deal or move back to those classified ads.

For more information, contact a car body restoration professional.