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Does Living Near The Ocean Affect Your Car?

Living near the ocean can offer a lot of perks. You get the cool ocean breeze, the calming sound of the waves and beautiful views of the sparkling sea. But, while life along the coast may seem ideal, it may not be easy on your car. In fact, certain environmental factors present in coastal… Allstate https://i2.wp.com/blog.allstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Car-on-Beach_Thinkstock.png?fit=1245%2C450&ssl=1
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Living near the ocean can offer a lot of perks. You get the cool ocean breeze, the calming sound of the waves and beautiful views of the sparkling sea. But, while life along the coast may seem ideal, it may not be easy on your car. In fact, certain environmental factors present in coastal locations may cause or accelerate vehicle corrosion and damage.

Rust

According to the Automotive Paint Handbook: Paint Technology for Auto Enthusiasts & Body Shop Professionals by John Pfanstiehl, the closer a car is kept to the shore, the quicker rust could form. Pfanstiehl, owner of Pro Motorcar, a manufacturer of professional auto paint and body tools, says the closer you live to the water, the more likely your vehicle is to have salt water spray blowing on it each day. This can quickly lead to rust formation. On the other hand, cars that are 10 to 20 miles away from the beach are often not affected by the ocean air because they likely won’t come in contact with salt water spray every day, he says.

Pfanstiehl says it’s important to take care of the top portions of the vehicle, such as the trunk, hood and upper edges of the doors, as these parts will generally rust faster in coastal locations. To do this, inspect these areas regularly and keep your vehicle covered and clean when not in use.

Salt and Dew

Other parts of the vehicle can corrode as well, including brake calipers, nuts and bolts, according to John Rintoul, an engineer who has experienced this his whole life living in San Diego. He lives less than a mile from the ocean and works on cars, motorcycles and scooters in his free time, giving him an inside look at the damage caused by the ocean environment. Given his experience and where he lives, he says salty humidity and dew are one of the largest factors in progressing corrosion, particularly during certain times of the year.

“Winter is the worst since summer has much less dew during the nights and mornings,” Rintoul says. “The water droplets create sites where corrosion can occur, and salt helps to accelerate the corrosion.”

If the body of the car is extremely corroded…it is sometimes cheaper to replace the car rather than try to fix and repaint it Twitter Icon

Rintoul also notes that the longer his cars have been exposed to the ocean, the more damage has been done. “There is a honeymoon period of about three to five years where you probably won’t see much damage,” he says. “Then, in five to seven years, minor rust spots can develop on the car.” If you can replace the rusty parts, like the bolts and nuts, he adds, you should do so before corrosion weakens the parts to the point of failure. If the body of the car is extremely corroded, however, Rintoul says that in his experience, it is sometimes cheaper to replace the car rather than try to fix and repaint it. 

Paint Loss

In addition to corroded parts, the coastal environment can affect a vehicle’s paint. According to Steve Ford, The Car Guy, the combination of the sun and salt air near a coast can destroy a car’s finish. That’s because the hot sun increases the pores in the paint, which results in greater absorption of salty moisture – and ultimately, more corrosion.

Preventing Ocean-Related Car Damage

If you are moving to a coastal location or have recently purchased a new car that you want to protect, there are things you can do to slow salt damage to cars.  If you are just a few blocks from the beach, Rintoul suggests the following practices to help you prevent ocean-related damage to cars:

  • Park in a garage or use a vehicle cover, particularly in winter.
  • Wash and wax the paint regularly.
  • Don’t drive on sand or into ocean water; if you do, rinse the underside of the car with a hose after it has cooled off.

Living near the ocean may have negative effects on your car, but if you understand why the damage happens and take the appropriate steps to limit or prevent it, you can enjoy coastal living with minimal corrosion to your vehicle.

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