Last updated February 10, 2023
Cars are a major investment, so it's important to understand the factors that can affect their value. Rust is one of the key elements that can drastically reduce your car’s valuation. It is a common issue among car owners, but fortunately, rust can be prevented with proper maintenance and protective measures.
In this guide, we will take an in-depth look at how having too much rust can affect resale value when the time comes to sell your car - and what you can do to protect your vehicle from costly rust damage.
It’s common for rust to appear on cars and, in small amounts, it won’t affect the value of your vehicle all that much. A little rust can be written off as wear and tear for vehicles of a certain age.
However, if the rust has been left to worsen, this can lead to more serious structural issues for the vehicle, which will not only drastically reduce its value, but can also affect roadworthiness.
How much rust devalues a car depends on a range of factors, including where the rust has developed - and the extent to which it has damaged the vehicle. Severe rusting may decrease your vehicle’s value by thousands of pounds, whilst minor rusting shouldn’t have too much of an impact on its value at all.
You should have your car professionally appraised to get an accurate look at how any rust present has affected its resale value. Many car-buying services, including webuyanycar offer a free valuation service, which can help you understand your car’s market value, without any obligation to sell it.
You should remove any rust from your car sooner rather than later to prevent further damage to the bodywork and vehicle components. If rust is left to worsen and develop, it could affect the structural integrity of the vehicle – and, if the damage is particularly severe, scrapping your car may be the most economical option.
The cost of repairing the rust on your vehicle will depend on the severity of the rust and which areas you are looking to repair.
If your car has suffered only minor rust, there are products on the market that may allow you to repair the rust yourself. These include preventative coatings to discourage the development of further rust, ‘rust reformers’, which allow you to convert rust into a paintable surface – and undercarriage coating, which adds a protective layer to the undercarriage of your vehicle.
However, if the rust on your car is severe or has developed in sensitive areas (around the wheels and hinges, etc.) – you may need to have this repaired professionally. These rust repairs could cost hundreds, even thousands of pounds depending on their scale and complexity.
Corrosion or rust in ‘prescribed’ areas is also one of the factors that can cause your vehicle to fail its MOT. For a comprehensive list of MOT criteria, please refer to our ‘MOT Checklist’ guide.
What constitutes an acceptable level of rust for a trade-in vehicle is at the discretion of individual dealerships. Some may even refuse to accept a trade-in with any perceptible rust.
However, most dealerships are willing to accept a trade-in with minor rust – a level of damage that can be put down to age or normal wear and tear. Severe rust or rust which has caused structural damage to the vehicle will likely mean it is rejected by most dealerships.
If your car has suffered from severe rusting and is not suitable for trading in (or you are struggling to sell your car privately), scrapping your car could be the best way forward.
You can take your car to be scrapped at an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) (or scrapyard). Alternatively, certain car-buying services (including webuyanycar) are also able to buy your car.