If you want to do everything you can to keep your vehicle running reliably and well for 10, 20, 30 years and beyond, I can help. It all comes down to a small item of annual maintenance that hardly anyone does.
Last month, as I was on a road trip with my wife, I noticed a late-model pickup truck with huge rust holes in several places. The vehicle was less than five years old, but deterioration was obvious in different spots, and extended high above rear wheels.
There wasn’t much metal over the wheels at all. While it would take thousands of dollars to fix this deterioration in a body shop, I was reminded how this truck could have had a perfect body today with absolutely no rust if only the owner had completed an annual oil spray operation. My own truck is a case in point.
My rig is the same brand as the late model rust bucket I saw last month, but the similarity ends there. Mine was new in 1990 and the body is still perfectly sound and free of holes.
This truck has gone through 32 salty Canadian winters and has lived outdoors the entire time. Annual oil spray is the only reason there has never been any significant rust holes to repair, and there never will be.
When I say “oil spray” I don’t really mean oil as such, but rather one of two sprays sold to prevent auto rust. Both Krown and Rust Check are the two brands I favour.
If you have either of these products applied to your vehicle annually, the kind of structural rust that kills so many vehicles prematurely becomes a complete non-issue. Sounds crazy, but it’s perfectly true.
For years, once a year, each fall, I travelled to either a Krown or Rust Check application shop to have the underside, the fenders and doors on all my vehicles drenched with anti-rust spray and it has worked wonderfully. No rust. For the last 10 years I’ve done my own oil spraying, using the same kind of spray gun, application wand and rust-preventative liquid they use in the professional shops. Besides costing less than half of what it would cost to have a shop do the work, I can be generous and diligent in a way that not all spray shops can match. The wetter the better is my policy.
To be fair, annual oil spray won’t stop paint from deteriorating in the sun, so I’ve had my old truck repainted. Once back in 2009, and it’s due for a refresh again now. But repainting a vehicle that has no structural rust is a piece of cake and rather economical, too.
There’s no shortage of people who offer the opinion that it makes no sense to keep a vehicle longer than 10 or 20 years. “Repair costs simply get too high and you’ll spend less on a newer vehicle.”
Funny thing is, I’ve never met anyone who could back this opinion up with long-term numbers. In my own case, my 32-year-old truck never did have a reputation for long-term reliability and rust resistance, yet over the decades I’ve owned it this thing has cost me less than $100 a month in repairs. Where are the outrageous costs?
Keeping vehicles for the long haul is not for everyone, but I know from experience that it’s not only possible but actually quite economical. Start with a make and model that has at least decent reliability, oil the thing annually, then keep on top of repairs as they come up. Besides all the practical advantages, it’s just plain fun sharing many years of your life with the same trusty (and not rusty) vehicle and all the adventures you can have together.
Steve Maxwell is big on making things last. Visit him at BaileyLineRoad.com for made-in-Canada articles and videos about hands-on, how-to living.