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Frame Coating Options to Keep Your Vehicle Protected

A car's undercarriage

Wouldn’t it be great if you could keep your vehicle’s undercarriage as clean and corrosion-free as a new car? You can, but that involves covering it up. Sometimes known as undercoating, frame coating prevents rust from eating away at your frame, gas tank and other critical components.

4 Types of Frame CoatingMercedes undercarriage

You have a few options when coating your vehicle’s frame. Your choice will depend on what you have available, your DIY skill level and the visual effect you’re trying to achieve:

  • Paint: Paint is probably the oldest, most tried-and-true method of coating your frame. Hot-rodders and custom car owners were doing this back in the 1940s. Even if the frame has already developed some surface rust, you just need to sand it down, prep it with primer and then paint it to prevent rust from forming again. Restorers favor gloss and semi-gloss black, but gray or silver are also popular, and other colors like red or orange are not unusual.
  • Chrome: Custom cars, show cars and low-riders use chrome on the frame and critical components. This not only provides protection but is also visually appealing. The biggest downside is that any damage or dirt on the chrome is obvious when compared to black paint or other coating. Because it’s a complicated process, chrome plating is best left to a professional shop.
  • Bedliner: The same bedliner used on the inside of pickup truck beds to protect against damage from cargo can be used as a coating on the vehicle’s underside. The downside to this is aesthetics: No matter how you apply it (sprayed on or applied with a brush or roller), it’s going to look like bedliner.
  • Undercoating: Undercoatings intended for frame coating are usually sprayed on. Besides protecting the undercarriage and body panels against corrosion, debris and damage, they insulate against sound. Many also offer two textures — a standard spray-on and another that can be painted over, achieving a particular look while also protecting the undercoating.

Whichever option you choose, coating your frame is a great way to protect your vehicle. As your vehicle ages, corrosion on hidden parts can shorten or even end your vehicle’s usable life. A solid frame coating can help to stop corrosion in its tracks.

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

Photos courtesy of Mike Hagerty.

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Mike Hagerty View All

Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of MikeHagertyCars.com, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and losaltosonline.com. Previous outlets have included KFBK and KFBK.com in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and BBCCars.com.

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