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Car Exhaust System Rust Prevention

rusty mufflers in a pile

Installing a stainless steel exhaust systemEven if you park in a garage, your car is continuously exposed to moisture. The vehicle’s body is painted and treated to prevent rust and corrosion, but your car exhaust system is not only the most exposed, but it also isn’t very well-protected. As you drive, exhaust pipes and the muffler are constantly hit with water, salt and other debris that can damage and rust it. Here are a few ways that you can prevent corrosion and keep your exhaust system working for a long time.


If you’ve ever wondered what that undercarriage feature is at the car wash, here it is. By rinsing the underside of the car, you remove salt and other corrosive debris that can build up over time and rot away the metal components of the exhaust system. Even if you don’t want to hit the car wash all the time, you can use your garden hose and an attachment to reach underneath the car and do it yourself once or twice a month.

Paint Shop

This may sound like it’s only for hot-rod guys, but you can, in fact, paint or powder coat your exhaust system. A coating of high-temperature paint or a powder coating can help protect the surfaces of the exhaust system and keep moisture and debris from damaging them. A local exhaust or body shop can apply this special paint or coating for you, and the result is an exhaust system that’s virtually weatherproof.

Go High End

Aftermarket exhaust systems not only improve the look, sound and performance of your vehicle, but they also help it last longer. Many popular exhaust systems are made of stainless steel. While stainless steel isn’t 100 percent rust-proof, it is far more resistant to corrosion than the metal used in your average system. Stainless steel exhausts are more expensive than regular stock systems, but the preventative maintenance costs usually balance out.

Take a Ride

If you aren’t able to rinse underneath your car regularly and you don’t want to replace your exhaust system or paint your pipes, there’s still one more option: You can go for a ride. Driving your car for a minimum of 30 minutes allows the exhaust pipes and the muffler to get up to the proper temperature and evaporate moisture. The longer you drive, the better.

Replacing your exhaust system can be quite an undertaking. However, with some simple care or perhaps some easy upgrades, you can avoid leaking exhaust pipes or dropping your muffler on the road.

Check out all the exhaust system parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on preventing corrosion on your car exhaust system, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Erich Reichert View All

Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.

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