If you live in an area with cold winters and many snow days throughout the frigid season, you are probably familiar with rust. Yet for those accustomed to snowless winters, seeing cars 10 years or older look as if they were just purchased from a dealer is probably a common occurrence.

However, keeping the right-off-the-lot appearance is not only limited to vehicles accustomed to warmer climates. To help prevent the often damaging and costly effects of rust and corrosion, many carwashes provide rustproofing services.

Offering car rustproofing services can help car care businesses expand their profit potential and boost customer loyalty, especially for those located in regions prone to cold and snowy winters.

The benefits of rustproofing services

Rustproofing services are a lot more common in areas with constant winters, such as states located in the Northeastern U.S. If situated in one of these regions, there shouldn’t be too many problems finding new clients, especially because aftermarket rustproofing is still a growing niche.

Expanding the client base and improving earnings are priorities for practically any business. To accomplish both, owners and operators must continuously work on ways to retain old customers and attract new clients by offering different services.

The great thing about aftermarket rustproofing is once a high-quality rustproofing service is performed on a customer’s vehicle and a warranty for the work completed is provided, this car owner will most likely come back year after year to have his or her vehicle inspected and to reapply an anticorrosion coating when needed.

Another advantage for those who own a carwash or service station is that some of the equipment needed for the job is already on-site. The rustproofing process requires a vehicle’s undercarriage to be fully cleaned, which can be accomplished with current carwashing equipment; and the vehicle needs to be lifted for easier access to the underbody using a hoist that can be found in most service stations.

In my experience, the most important benefit of rustproofing is that it actually helps to preserve the car in an especially good condition (which customers highly appreciate) — even in areas with long, snowy winters where roads are treated with extensive amounts of salt and chemicals, which trigger the rusting process as the car is driven.

Car rustproofing also greatly benefits car owners. Car care businesses should properly educate their customers on the various advantages of rustproofing their vehicles. This helps boost the return on investment for this service as well as the potential for repeat business.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the many benefits of rustproofing.

Prevention, safety and appearance

Rustproofing helps to save a vehicle in the long term from salts and chemicals used on roads. Rust can drastically damage or even destroy a car; with this in mind, if customers want to keep their cars free of rust for more than a few years, they can either choose to only drive in the warmer months of the year, storing their vehicles away in garages during the winter season, or they can rustproof their cars.

The success of this service highly depends on the knowledge and skill of the person applying the coating and the rustproofing product. For example, when recently comparing two equal car models with similar usage, but one had been rustproofed and the other was not, the first one was in mint condition while the other had heavy rust all over its underbody. High-quality rust protection, when properly applied, will help to save money that otherwise might be spent on the repair or replacement of rusted parts.

Also important to note is rust weakens the metal parts of a car, and heavy rust will strongly impact a car’s durability. For these reasons alone, a car should be protected from rust.

Also, no one likes to see rust peeking out from under the arches, on struts and on other visible parts of a car. When a vehicle has been rustproofed, the undercarriage is covered with a dark (usually black, dark gray or dark brown) coating, masking any rusty spots.

Rustproofing is required not only for those who want to have reliable, attractive vehicles for as long as possible, but also for those who are interested in selling their cars in the future. Any signs of rust on a used car decreases its value. Most companies that provide rustproofing services also offer warranties for their services; with this warranty in hand, a current car owner can prove to a potential buyer that he or she has taken great care of the vehicle, which in turn increases the car’s aftermarket value.

Rustproofing considerations

Before offering car rustproofing services, carwash owners and operators should consider the following factors:

  • Area and equipment for applying the coating: First, a well-ventilated indoor space equipped with proper carwashing equipment is needed so a car’s undercarriage can be cleared of any dust and grain. A hydraulic jack can help carwashes easily access all areas under a vehicle. Additionally, high-pressure pumps are needed to apply the coating; there are generally two types of pumps: those with long, thin nozzles that can reach tight places — for example, the spaces found inside of doors — and others that produce a wider jet and are used to spray the undercarriage.
  • Anticorrosion coating products: With numerous options to choose from, selecting an anticorrosion coating may be a difficult task, requiring some research and testing before finding the best option. What works for some car care businesses might not be the right choice for others. Make sure to shop around; finding the right coating might ultimately come down to trial and error.
  • Skills for the job: The success of the rustproofing service largely depends on the person applying the coating. Owners and operators must make sure to properly train employees. Carwash workers instructed in rustproofing should be able to perform the service on all car types frequenting the carwash.
  • Information on how to access every area of any car: In our company’s operations, we incorporated manufacturer-developed methodological forms to use on any car so we can effectively access and apply coating to all outer and inner metal parts. We do not drill holes anywhere on a car’s body; however, some companies do drill small holes to access areas of the body and block them with small rubber plugs after treatment to prevent water from getting into these areas.
  • Calculated costs and prices: Rustproofing can be quite an expensive process, especially because it needs to be reapplied annually. In general, costs start from around $100 for basic treatment and can go up by a couple hundred dollars for full treatment. A carwash should check out what prices similar businesses are offering nearby, and choose a competitive price to appeal to more clients. Offering different promotions can entice more customers, but providing great service is what will retain existing patrons and further attract new clientele.

 Keeping in mind these factors, carwashes can ensure optimal profits when expanding their service offerings to include car rustproofing.


Billy Ray Miller has been a car mechanic for more than 20 years. He is the owner and editor of KnockOutEngine, a blog about the automotive industry, car maintenance and more. The blog focuses particularly on tools that make car repairs more effective. You can learn more about the blog by visiting www.knockoutengine.com.