Rust isn’t just an annoyance that springs up on older cars. Whilst unusual, rust can occur on more modern vehicles too, particulary where there has been damage, minor otherwise, which has gone untreated. A quick ‘Google’ has brought up reports of cars as young as 4 years old failing their MOT’s because of rust issues. Even a small stonechip can cause the start of rust on many vehicles, and once rust get’s hold, it’s hard to get rid of. It’s the ‘Japanese Knotweed’ for cars.
But, rust has more serious implications too. As well as being unsightly, rust can also be highly dangerous as it can weaken the infrastructure and integrity of a vehicle. Once it takes hold it could ultimately destroy a vehicle, after first rendering it undrivable. Rust around the top of rear suspension turrets for example, a fairly common area for rust on some vehicles, could result in the suspension ultimately pulling away from the rest of the car, something that could have fatal implications at speed.
At the annual MOT, the car could be failed because of excessive rust, or, if the rust is within a predefined distance from structual points. The seat belt mountings are one such structual point and obviously, not a point that you want to find is weakened to excess only when you rely on it most.
There is also a saying that states that rust is like an iceberg…we only see 10% of what may lurk beneath the surface. This is why, at your MOT, a MOT inspector may prod and poke and exposed rust areas with a screw driver to test the extent of the problem.
We’ve all probably read reports in the past for Police pulling over vehicles they consider to be potentially dangerous. Very often it’s modified cars or cars deemed to be causing an annoyance that catches the attention of the constabulary, but a vehicle with defects will also possibly attract the wrong sort of attention of an eagle eyed traffic officer. In severe cases, the Police can take the vehicle off of the road, and in other circumstances, they can issue points for your licence or issue a Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice which gives the car owner a period of time in which to remedy a reported issue, and then to prove via an independent garage that it has been addressed correctly.
If you are buying, or thinking of buying a 2nd hand car which you feel may have rust issues, it’ll be worth having an independent assessor check the car over for you and to provide a written report of findings, which could range from mechanical to bodywork. In addition, you can see the reasons for any previous MOT ‘fails’ and ‘advisories’ by checking the government MOT database (free to use). If rust has been reported previously and it’s still visible now, it probably hasn’t got any better. And if there is no visible rust where there was a previous reported issue, it may be worth checking the vehicle for the quality of the repair.