All About the Different Types of Vehicle Undercoating

It's important to protect all aspects of your vehicle from damage, rust, and decay. From the windshield to the tires to the actual body of your car, automobiles need upkeep to prevent them from becoming an undriveable pile of rust. All the moving parts work together to form a well-functioning and safe-to-drive whole, and it's easy to forget about the things on your vehicle that you don't see -- like the underbelly. That's where car undercoating comes into play.

What is Car Undercoating?

No matter the climate, the underbelly of every vehicle needs proper care and protection. Undercoating helps protect your vehicle against rust and corrosion.

Seals on the underbelly parts have gotten a lot tighter and more effective at keeping out dust and moisture, but there are other factors to consider. Poor roads, rocks getting thrown from the tires and denting the metal, and corrosion from road salt in the winter all play a huge part in the damage or decay of a vehicle's underbelly. Used vehicles especially will need a little underbelly protection -- while it's already been exposed to contaminants and rust, applying undercoating will prevent further damage.

The Difference Between Rust Protection and Undercoating

Undercoating and rust protection often go hand-in-hand, but they are actually two different things. Rust protection generally goes inside your vehicle, while undercoating is used for protection outside of the vehicle, and there are a variety of coatings available. Depending on the level of damage and how much protection you want for your vehicle will determine which type of automotive undercoating you choose.

Different Types of Vehicle Undercoating

Having undercoating professionally applied to your vehicle can be expensive, but fortunately, if your budget is tight, you can do it yourself for a fraction of the price. Here are some of the various types of undercoating available.

Rubberized Undercoating

Rubberized vehicle undercoating is easy to apply and offers sound-cushioning as well as protection from dust, moisture, and dings or dents.

In addition to your undercarriage, rubberized undercoating is also safe to use on wheel wells and quarter panels, and dries to a soft rubbery finish that prevents further rust, damage, or moisture seeps. The coating can be painted over and, if necessary for bodywork, can be easily removed with an undercoating removal spray.

Overall, rubberized coating is generally the best option for protecting your vehicle's undercarriage, as it provides the simplest and best protective measures against rust and moisture.

Polyurethane Undercoating

The other option for undercoating your vehicle is to use a polyurethane-based sealant. This type of vehicle undercoating is a little bit quicker and easier to apply.

Oftentimes, polyurethane undercoating will come in canisters ready to preload into an application gun. This type of sealant works by seeping into all cracks and seams, displacing salt and moisture and oozing around rusty areas to bond with and protect unoxidized metal. It also sands quickly in case you'll need to perform bodywork and can be painted over.

On the flipside, this type of car undercoating generally requires a little bit more surface prep work before applying -- sanding and applying an etching primer to bare metals before using are generally recommended.

Wax or Paraffin-Based Undercoatings

A paraffin-based undercoating will be the cheapest and quickest option available with which to protect the undercarriage of your vehicle. However, keep in mind that it will wear off quicker than other types of undercoating and will need to be stripped and reapplied at least once every year.

Wax-based undercoatings never truly harden. During application, they drip or flow into seams and cracks to provide protective properties. They are usually available in a spray gun canister or in an aerosol can and offer at least a base protection in moderately humid climates.

Asphalt-Based Undercoating

For standard vehicles, any of the aforementioned types of undercoating will provide sufficient protection. For large trucks and heavy machinery, asphalt-based undercoating provides a bit of extra durability against rocks, chips, and moisture.

Asphalt-based undercoating generally contains a little bit of rubberized material that sets up firmly and also helps soften noise. Generally sold in five gallon containers, this type of undercoating also needs more cure time than the other three, and is NOT paintable, making it best to use only for undercarriages.

Applying Undercoating At Home

Once you've selected the best undercoating for your vehicle, make sure your work area is clean, well-ventilated, and has adequate lighting. Wearing a dust mask and old protective clothing is advised. Make sure it's a nice day with low humidity if you're working outside, and if inside, deep-clean your area to ensure it's free of dust or any other debris that could become trapped in the undercoating.

  • As always when it comes to updating your vehicle or using any sort of coating, remove the rust completely FIRST and then proceed. Rust removal is easily achieved by sandblasting or sanding, depending on the area and the extent of the rust.

  • Once you've removed the rust and prepped your undercarriage for coating, give it a quick rinse and let it dry to ensure you aren't further trapping any contaminants on your vehicle's underbelly. Using a degreaser to clean the metal first is also recommended.

  • Most undercoating is generally applied with a spray gun. A disposable spray gun will work best; once the undercoating hardens, it becomes very difficult to clean the gun even with a lot of thinner. A Schutz disposable spray gun is the best option.

  • No matter what type of vehicle undercoating you've selected, two coats will provide the optimum protection. Allow ample dry time between coats.

  • Let the undercoating cure completely (usually overnight) before driving your vehicle on the road.

Selecting the right kind of car undercoating will go a long way towards protecting your car from damage caused by the elements and help prevent further rust or decay. Shop our undercoatings to find a product that will help keep your vehicle in prime condition.

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