Rust Resistant Car Makes & Models

I plan to buy a new (or lightly used)U.S. made compact car later this year. Which car bodies have better rust resistance - GM’s or Fords? I am looking at a Ford Focus & a GM Alero. Thanks.

I’d say it’s more a matter of where you live vs. what you drive. Cars in the north east look like Swiss cheese after a few winters. I have yet to see a rusted car here in Denver (unless it came from back east). You could go with a plastic (Corvette) or aluminum (Jaguar, Audi) bodied car if you are really worried by rust.

Check out five-year-old versions of the vehicles you are consider where you live and examine them for rust. Just observing cars on the street will give you a general feel for how the rust over time. My sister lives in VT where just above every five-year-old car has the tin worm.


Not much difference. If you live in the snow belt where they like to use lots of salt, it will rust much more than if you live where they seldom or never use salt.

Rust is not the problem with modern cars as it was with older cars. Modern cars are designed with rust reduction design and material choice.

Hint: Don’t have your car rust proofed beyond what the factory did. After delivery rust prevention may block drains and cause more rust than there would have been without it.

Actually CSA, I’m afraid that even this car can rust. I have one in the back yard as I write this. See those steel rods holding the front wheels? They are all rusty. :slight_smile:

Macfisto, I Ordered And Installed The Stainless Steel Track Arm / Spindle Replacements From Problem solved. No Rust!

However, it’s always backed into the driveway and the side of the Coupe that faces south is turning pink ! The passenger’s side (north) is still bright candy apple red.

I’m thinking about a kevlar cover from


Both the Focus and Alero (AKA Pontiac Grand Am) seem to be fairly rust resistant, as long as aftermarket rustproofing has not been applied. I have seen more Aleros beginning to rust than Focuses, but I also see more older Aleros and more newer Focuses. The Alero has been around since 1999, so at twelve years old and just beginning to rust is not too bad, in my opinion. They start at the rocker panels and around the fuel filler door according to my observations. Focuses seem to catch it in the wheel arches.

What about a SATURN? This is (or was) a GM product that had plastic/polymer body panels that can’t rust. Did Saturn build any of these after 2002?? I’m not sure.

I agree with Twotone. There are no rust resistant cars per se, just rust resistant locations. Just about any car can be “enhanced” with good body maintenance practices and made to last longer than your desire to keep them in just about any climate. Cars are “better” at rust prevention in the cosmetic respect only but suffer from similar rust problems as those of old with under carriage components…look at the crappy nuts/bolt connections and exposed metal parts underneath. Rust is one of the mechanic’s and automotive industry’s best friend. The is NO SUCH thing as rust proofing; just rust delaying tactics.

BTW, a friend is refurbushing a Corvette and has lots of rusting parts to replace under those FG exterior panels.

Find one owned by older drivers. They might not have gone out when the roads were really bad. Retirees have more leeway in when they drive once commuting is no longer required. It’s a bonus if the car was garaged.

I grew up in the Syracuse area (Pulaski). Still have many relatives in the area. No car is rust-proof (except the delorian…or corvetts). But most newer cars are pretty good at lasting years and years without rusting (even in Syracuse).

Rust-proofing DOES WORK…IF DONE PROPERLY…And that’s the problem…not always is it done properly. Blocking drain holes is one of the major complaints. But no matter what car you buy it shouldn’t need it anyways.

There is no “rust proofing” material made for cars that even if properly installed, does not dry and crack over time. Being that O2 is the primary ingredient for rust, these cracks allow entrance for both moisture and O2 promoting rust in an enclosed area.

The only materials that work are those products that can be monitored and reapplied as needed; oils (incl. linseed) and grease that are transparent and maintain some “flow” quality are best. If it drys on the surface to the touch, it’s not long term effective, just long term hiding what’s really happening underneath.

Metals can be made rust resistant by adding chromium cheaply early in the process in lesser amounts than needed to qualify as stainless steel that would extend the life of metal parts w/o maintenance…This isn’t profitable and probably not worth it with the incentive to replace cars regardless with models with newer safety features and better economy.

So the profit motive and long term negative effects of keeping older cars on the road way heavily in “promoting” the proper control, not elimination of, rust.

There is no “rust proofing” material made for cars that even if properly installed, does not dry and crack over time.

Rubberized undercoating doesn’t dry and crack…I know I’ve used it.

Another common rust proofing material used today is the spray-on truck bed liner by companies like Rhino Shield. I’ve seen cars that were properly rust proofed built in the 70’s that lasted DECADES and HUNDREDS of thousands of miles that show little to no rust…and this is in Syracuse where snow is abundant and they use a lot of salt.

There was a study done at Syracuse University that was commissioned by GM to study “why cars rust and how to prevent it”. The study was done in the late 70’s to early 80’s. The BIGGEST thing the manufacturers could do was to eliminate spots where water pool. The second was treating the steel…and it’s best to be done at the factory.

I hear you and these materials are more effective but only done at the factory as base preparation is most important. They are very expensive and still just hide potential problems that are delayed, not eliminated.

Oil maintenance minimizes the pooling of water by not clogging drain holes. Look at most cars and you will see that many holes are NEVER at there lowest point because of welding restrictions. Oil settles in these areas and cut O2 where you could never spray your, “rubberized” coating.

I’ve been doing this for years and an oil maintenance program is the closest thing to allowing equipment, including cars, to last generations, not decades. It even stops rust effectively after it has started w/o base preparation…Can your sprays do that ?

Most importantly, oil is cost effective, costing less than a quart of oil per car every two to three years. Ask any antique car restoration person,regular maintenance and exposure control are the only time tested rust prevention on vehicles. If they use any of your sprays, it’s in conjunction with labor intensive base prep. and routine inspection. Like paint, which isn’t forever either, it still has to be maintained and just hides problems if not.

"The BIGGEST thing the manufacturers could do was to eliminate spots where water pool. " That’s right…and they don’t do it; you have to provide the barrier in these pooling areas and only oils, not rubberized spray can do it !
This undercoating is NEVER meant to be used that way…it’s an exposed surface agent only

When my parents bought a new Ford van in 1980, we lived in Buffalo, NY, so they paid extra for “Rusty Jones” treatment. The only part of that van that ever rusted was the rear bumper, which evidently wasn’t treated.

Thanks Goldwing, I will look into the Saturn. I will also try to find out how much (if any) of the Ford Focus & GM Alero car bodies are plastic &/or aluminum. I drive my cars for 12-20 years. All 4 of the cars I have owned seem to start rusting around 10 years regardless of how well I treat them; including keeping in a garage, car-washing every month, hand waxing, etc.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and observations. Many of you warned about getting aftermarket rust proofing applied, so I won’t. There were some other good ideas also. I expect this will be the last car I will buy, so I want to preserve it as best I can. It will have to stand up to snowy slushy winters, hot humid summers & some rural as well as city driving. I have a little homework to do. Thanks for your input.

Living in the Syracuse area in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s…without some protection…cars just didn’t survive…One of the BIGGEST rust buckets at the time was the Scamp/Duster/Volare’ by Chryco…All versions of that vehicle had MAJOR rust problems. You couldn’t find one of these vehicles that was 3 years old that didn’t have rust through on the top front fenders. Then along comes Rusty Jones, the other rust proofing companies…The epoxy based spray-on rust proofing did and EXCELLENT job (if done properly). I know several people who owned Volare’s/Aspens that were rust proofed…and after 10 years these cars showed no signs of rust. The oil treatment system which you claim is good…DIDN’T EVEN COME CLOSE to preventing rust on these cars in this area. Maybe where you live…but not in places like Syracuse or Buffalo where the average snow-fall is well over 100" year. There’s a reason this area is called the rust-belt.

The oil treatment system which you claim is good…DIDN’T EVEN COME CLOSE to preventing rust on these cars in this area.

With all due respect, I don’t think this oil treatment routine was used properly by owners of any cars you refer to that it didn’t work on. I don’t know if you’re aware of how it’s done or not, but what it isn’t is a one time do it and forget it treatment. Spray on rust proofing isn’t to be applied where most rust really starts, inner seams and welds.

Like the story of Rust Jones, which being more fluid than others would work better, extending the life of a Volare buy a factor of three; it’s a case of “the older we were the better it was” syndrome and at the very least, anything would have helped.

Nothing is better at shutting O2 out of the rust cycle in enclosed areas, like oil/grease and routine maintenance with cleaning and regular washing. Maine qualifies as rust belt and successfully keeping early 70/s VW Beetles used daily for commuting as rust free into the late 90’s (and still rust free in storage) qualifies as success story. You talk ten years of rust prevention on a Volare ?.

I’m talking in terms in many decades of successful rust control…on the same car that can be made to last and be used from one generation to another. That’s way out of Rusty Jone’s domain.