A d v a n c e d A u t o M a i n t e n a n c e
Vehicle body electronic corrosion protection...
Apart from mechanical failure, a prime enemy of any motor vehicle is corrosion of the metal body of the vehicle, also know as ‘rust’. This includes structural parts of the body of the vehicle which are important for safety, as well as doors, the bonnet, the hatch or boot and other panels like the front quarter panels. Just as mechanical failure of a vehicle involving the engine or transmission can cripple a vehicle and require expensive and time-consuming repairs, corrosion of a vehicle represents a serious threat which detracts from the safety, looks and market value of a vehicle. In fact, rust left unchecked can render a vehicle so useless that it must be consigned to the scrap heap according to the laws which govern road use in many countries.
While mechanical failure can be rectified so that the vehicle is ‘as good as new’ (provided enough money is spent), rust can’t always be fixed so that the vehicle is ‘as good as new’ and is best avoided in the first place. Rust on parts of the body which can’t be easily replaced in the same way that doors can be easily replaced with new ones often require repairs which involve cutting out the rusted metal and welding clean metal back in its place. Like most rust repairs, it’s best to avoid these types of drastic remedies by looking for ways to stop rust from occurring in the first place. All rust repairs are generally messy; they generally require the skill of experts who can weld metal; they inevitably involve the vehicle being out of action for several days and the end result is never going to be as good as if the vehicle had not rusted in the first place. ‘Rust’ is an ugly-sounding word for a reason.
How electronic rust protection works…
Fortunately, there’s a way to dramatically reduce the risk of your vehicle corroding or rusting. Electronic rust protection exists that continually coats a vehicle with ‘sacrificial’ electrons by way of a micro-processor drawing a low current from the vehicle’s battery. Since corrosion of metal involves the metal losing electrons in an oxidation process, electronic rust protection stops the metal from corroding by coating it with electrons that any oxidation process happening around the metal can utilise instead of electrons from the metal itself (which would corrode and damage the metal). Electronic rust protection coats the metal body of the vehicle with sacrificial electrons that are sacrificed to protect the metal from rusting.
The micro-processor is installed in the engine bay, drawing its power from the battery. It coats the metal body of the vehicle with sacrificial electrons via an adhesive, conductive pad that is attached onto the firewall of the engine bay, or some other relatively flat place such as a suspension tower. Because electrons will flow through any metal part of the vehicle which is connected directly or indirectly to the place where the pad is attached, sacrificial electrons will flow through the pad and then through the entire metal body of the vehicle and onto the attached doors, panels and mechanical parts to protect all of these from corrosion.
Recommended electronic rust protection…
The best electronic rust protection device I know of is made by a company called Couplertec. It’s the device that I use and recommend. They’ve tested their system over a long period of time in environments that exacerbate rust in vehicles such as coastal environments (where there’s corrosive, salt-laden air as a result of the saltwater ocean) and mining environments (where there’s a high level of sulphur which exacerbates corrosion) Their website couplertec.com is jam-packed with testimonials from surf-clubs and mining companies who all state that Couplertec electronic rust protection has prevented their equipment from rusting and saved them tens of thousands of dollars and a lot of hassle. Many of these companies have clear memories of the problems that rust on their equipment caused them prior to them using this electronic rust protection. They needed to perform expensive, time-consuming, messy rust repairs or, in many cases, dispose of expensive equipment prematurely when it was too badly damaged from rust to be able to keep using it. Couplertec works and it is the only device I would recommend. Other imitating electronic rust protection devices don’t have the same sophisticated micro-processor circuitry that Couplertec does, and don’t offer the same high level of protection from rust. Some of the imitating products simply do not work.
My experience with Couplertec electronic corrosion protection…
I installed a Couplertec electronic corrosion protection device on my vehicle three years ago when my vehicle was predominantly rust-free because I wanted to protect it far into the future. Over this time, I’ve visited the beach regularly where my vehicle has been exposed to the highly-corrosive, salty air there. Here are my conclusions regarding Couplertec electronic rust protection:
It will prevent rust from occurring on a vehicle that is already free from rust.
Reduces the rate of rust…
It will dramatically reduce the rate of rust on a vehicle that already has some damage from rust, whether this is surface rust or more substantial rust.
Protects other metal parts of the vehicle like mechanical components…
It will dramatically reduce the rate of oxidation or corrosion on other metal parts of the vehicle such as metal, mechanical components and the threads of bolts, minimising the seizure of rusted-on nuts and bolts and making the vehicle easier to work on for you or your mechanic, saving time and money. Since most metal components on the vehicle are connected to each other or have earthing wires attached to them from the body (e.g. the engine), the protection that Couplertec provides extends widely over the vehicle.
Protects your vehicle’s paintwork from fading…
It will assist in keep the paintwork on your vehicle in excellent condition and reduce the rate at which it fades. The process of paintwork on a vehicle fading involves the same process of oxidation (i.e. losing electrons) that causes metal to corrode or rust. Because electronic rust protection coats the vehicle with sacrificial electrons, it also protects the paintwork of the vehicle from oxidation, helping it to maintain a crisp, shiny appearance.
Vehicles with hatches require additional protection…
If your vehicle has a rear hatch like mine does, it’s probably advisable to consider installing a two-pad Couplertec system with the second pad affixed directly onto the hatch rather than relying on the single pad installed on the firewall of the engine bay to protect the hatch at the rear of the vehicle which has little direct metal contact with the body of the vehicle.
Vehicle hatches are only connected to the vehicle by the hinges at the top of the hatch (which should be oiled to prevent seizure) and by the gas struts which make it easier to lift the hatch. These oiled hinges and gas struts are not very good conductors of electricity and therefore greatly restrict the flow of sacrificial electrons to the hatch, resulting in a higher risk of rust, even with electronic rust protection installed in the engine bay.
Vehicle hatches are complicated body panels which are notorious for rusting in the long term. If your vehicle has a hatch and you are planning on keeping your vehicle for a long time as I am, it’s advisable to install a two-pad Couplertec system with the second pad affixed directly onto the hatch.
A cheaper alternative is to connect the hatch to the body of the vehicle with electrically-conductive stainless-steel straps so that the sacrificial electrons that the Couplertec unit produces are able to flow through to the hatch and protect it also. Other parts of the vehicle that can be better connected to the body in this way so that they are protected from corrosion by the Coupletec system are the vehicle doors and the exhaust system underneath the vehicle which continually has steam and water flowing through it as a by-product of fuel combustion, making it susceptible to rust.
It’s always better to use the two-pad Couplertec system…
When using a single-pad Couplertec system with the pad installed at the front of the vehicle, what often happens is that corrosion is prevented from occurring at the front of the vehicle near the pad but continues to progress at a slower rate at the rear of the vehicle, further away from the pad. The reason for this is that the sacrificial electrons that the pad releases onto the vehicle are largely ‘used up’ to prevent corrosion by the time they reach the rear of the vehicle, so that there are fewer sacrificial electrons available to the rear of the vehicle to protect it from corrosion.
The solution to this is to use the heavier duty two-pad Couplertec system with one pad installed at the front of the vehicle and the second pad installed at the rear of the vehicle. In this way, the entire vehicle can be evenly coated with sacrificial electrons and the entire vehicle can therefore be protected from corrosion.
Even when using the two-pad Couplertec system, it’s still worthwhile connecting the hatch (if your vehicle has one), the doors and the exhaust system underneath the vehicle to the body of the vehicle using electrically-conductive stainless steel straps in order to increase the corrosion protection of these parts by allowing the sacrificial electrons that the Couplertec system produces to flow more freely to these parts of the vehicle from the body of the vehicle.
Conventional methods of rust protection are still important…
Although electronic rust protection will provide a high level of protection for your vehicle against corrosion, it’s important to still employ whatever other measures you can to further reduce the risk of corrosion of your vehicle. These measures, which are outlined in the section titled, Vehicle Body Cleaning And Waxing, include things such as ensuring dirt doesn’t accumulate inside the wheel arches (which absorbs moisture and exacerbates corrosion) and waxing the paintwork to protect it from moisture and the harsh sun which can crack it open, leaving the underlying metal vulnerable to moisture and corrosion.
Electronic rust protection will protect your vehicle from corrosion. However the onslaught of corrosive elements against your vehicle is continuous. For example, there’s the morning dew, followed by the hot sun which causes the oxidation reaction to increase in intensity. If you visit the beach regularly, you’re constantly exposing your vehicle to salty-air which is highly corrosive (and which will inevitably destroy your vehicle without electronic rust protection).
For these reasons, it’s very important to use all other available means to prevent your vehicle from rusting, in addition to electronic rust protection. If this was not necessary then, theoretically, it would not be necessary to even protect the vehicle’s metal body with paint. One would only need to put electronic rust protection onto the body to preserve it in its shiny, pristine metal state.
However electronic rust protection is not meant to be used like this. It’s meant to be used as over-arching protection once all other possible means of rust prevention have been employed to minimise the oxidation activity that is occurring. It’s the oxidation activity on the vehicle that leads to rust and that requires the protection of sacrificial electrons from electronic rust protection to stop that rust from materialising. On an unpainted vehicle, this oxidation activity would be overwhelming and the metal would probably rust anyway, in spite of the use of electronic rust protection.
What’s required is to minimise the oxidation activity that is occurring on the vehicle to the greatest extent possible, through all possible additional means listed below, so that the electronic rust protection can easily prevent that oxidation activity from leading to rust. In this way, electronic rust protection provides the over-arching protection that stops the vehicle from rusting.
Copyright 2016 Andrew Mackinnon. All rights reserved.