Prevent rust on your off-road vehicle

Sometimes keeping an off-road vehicle looking good is as important as maintaining a high level of performance. When you're constantly going mudding or tackling tough terrain, however, it can be difficult to keep your vehicle in prime condition. Consistent cleaning and frequent maintenance can go a long way toward making the exterior of a machine shine, but drivers often have to go the extra mile to prevent rust from building up on their rides. 

How it happens
At its core, rust is just the result of the chemical reaction between oxygen and water. This isn't a problem for many drivers, as the paint protects the metal frame of a vehicle, but over time scratches or nicks in an automobile may allow for rusting to occur. 

As a result, the places most susceptible to rust are the ones where water may build up. This is traditionally restricted to spots like the inside of doors, which frequently have condensation settle on them, or the area behind the wheels on the bottom of the automobile, where slush and ice can accrue in the colder months. Motorists who participate in off-road driving may find that the bottom of their vehicle can become a target for rust, as it is usually skimming mud, creeks and other bodies of water for an extended period of time. 

Preventing rust build up 
The first step toward stopping rust build up before it starts is keeping your eyes peeled for scratches in a vehicle's paint. Touch-up paint can be used to patch these smaller issues, and it's a good idea to keep a bit of the paint on hand, especially if you're frequently off-roading and encounter rocks, gravel, debris and other obstacles that could harm the exterior of an automobile. 

Even if you're watching out for cracks in the paint, rust could still be developing on the underside of a vehicle. Drivers who are dedicated to their rides may want to have an undercoat applied to the bottom. Yahoo reported that these rubberized coatings can seal the area against corrosion. If rust has already started forming, this step won't do much good, but it could help extend the life and enhance the look of newer vehicles. 

No matter what the age of your automobile, you should be consistently washing and waxing it. Most of the area that you will be caring for will already be covered with paint, and thus less likely to begin rusting, but getting into the pattern of cleaning the truck or Jeep after off-road adventures can help avoid problems. During this process, be sure to open all doors, the hood and the trunk of the vehicle to check for hidden problem spots. At this time you can check the undercarriage and draining spots to make sure there are no budding issues that are breeding rust. 

Watch out for winter
Rust can be particularly harmful in the winter, when a vehicle comes into contact with massive amounts of salt placed on the roads to increase traction. The salt speeds up the rusting process, so it is important to pay attention to rust prevention as a regular part of vehicle maintenance. 

You should be cleaning a vehicle somewhat frequently throughout the winter season. Ridding a vehicle of salt that would otherwise sit on the exterior is incredibly important - especially if you are not off-roading as often as the rest of the year. Long breaks between drives can leave plenty of time for rust to wreak havoc on a vehicle and could cause preventable damage.