Do new cars need additional rust-proofing these days?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently purchased a 1995 Dodge Neon. When I was shopping, several salesmen told me that the car did not need rustproofing because it came from the factory already rustproofed. But when I actually bought the car, my salesman told me that I needed to rustproof the car, and the cost was $399. What's going on?

TOM: What's going on is that your salesman is working on commission, Buck. And he's trying to get back some of the money you chiseled off his commission during the negotiation over the price of the car.

RAY: This is a typical sales routine. Once you've agreed to buy the car, then they start trying to add extras like rustproofing, pin stripes, extended warranties, fabric protection, alarm systems; stuff that's added on at the dealership, so the dealer gets 80% of the profit, instead of the usual 10% he gets on the stuff he orders from the factory.

TOM: So do you need rustproofing? In most cases, I'd have to say no. Modern cars do come from the factory with some protection against rust. Is it enough? That depends. How long are you going to keep your car? Do they salt the roads where you live? Can you find somebody who's going to apply the rustproofing correctly?

RAY: That last question is really key. We've been hard pressed to find installers who know what they're doing. And a bad rustproofing job can actually be more harmful than no rustproofing at all, because your drainage holes can get plugged up and hasten the rusting process.

TOM: So if you live in the snow belt, you plan to keep your car forever, AND you personally know a trustworthy person who does rustproofing, then I'd consider it. But if that's not the case, your money would be just as well spent on pin stripes.

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