Ford Mustang Rust Problems (Full Explanation!)

The Ford Mustang has long been a popular and visible part of the Ford lineup.

Since 1964, the Mustang has been enamoring fans all around the world with its muscle car looks, powerful engines, great performance, and more.

This article explains the “Ford Mustang Rust Problems”…

Does Ford Mustang Rust?

As it happens, the Ford Mustang is actually quite prone to rust, but most won’t see any until 10 or 12 years after production, with the fastest rate being within 3 years when the rust is due to paint problems.

Mustangs get rusty because Ford doesn’t apply any special undercoating that would normally protect from rust before the cars go to dealerships.

This can be remedied by owners, who can have anti-rust protective coatings applied.

Are The Newer Models Still Rusting?

While the paint doesn’t experience rust as much as some other competing models, even the newest Ford Mustang cars have been known to remain prone to rust on their underside.

The problem is not pervasive and can be avoided with proper care like keeping the underside of the car as clean as possible and free of possible contaminants that lead to rust, such as road salt.

Cleaning the underside of the Ford Mustang is especially important in winter when the roads are salted.

Getting an undercoat of a rustproofing agent is a good way to protect against this problem.

What Causes A Mustang To Rust?

The primary cause of rust on the Ford Mustang’s underside and wheel axles is road salt.

Drivers of Mustangs who live in areas with harsh winters where roads are frequently treated with salt are more susceptible to experiencing rust.

The relatively low profile of the Ford Mustang makes close contact with road salt and even greater inevitability than with a regular car.

Regular washing of the undercarriage and wheel axle area can ensure that it doesn’t become a problem.

You can also invest in special coatings that will protect against rust on the underside of your Ford Mustang.

Other areas of the Mustang that can experience rust or at least rust-like symptoms are the paintwork, especially the paintwork around the stock hoods.

Some users reported that after just a few years, the paint around the hood showed signs of bubbling.

This is caused by the presence of aluminum oxide powder that forms between the paint and the aluminum hood.

Is The Mustang Paint Galvanized?

The Ford Mustang is made with a mixed aluminum and zinc galvanizing, which is quite common in much of the automotive manufacturing world.

Galvanizing can sometimes present problems for automakers because the surface can continue to oxidize for as long as 2-3 years.

That means that it negatively impacts any paint that is applied to the surface.

Is The Mustang Paint Water-Based?

If you own a classic Ford Mustang, then the paint is most likely red or gray oxide primer with a single-stage enamel or acrylic enamel finish.

These were the paints of the old world that were far from eco-friendly, and also difficult (if not impossible) to color match or repair.

GM at the time favored lacquer paint for the opposing reason that it was much easier to repair.

In the 1980s, the Ford Mustang received a new style of paint in the form of a two-stage basecoat with a clear coat finish.

This was disastrous at first, but over time this approach has become the industry norm.

In its models, and like just about every other manufacturer large and small, Ford now uses water-based paints not just for their eco-friendly credentials, but because now they are quite genuinely the more advanced option available to automakers.

The one big problem with water-based paints right now is that they’re slow to dry.

Originally they had problems binding with existing primers for many manufacturers.

What Parts Of The Mustang Are More Likely To Rust?

Reports from most users claim that the most vulnerable part of the Ford Mustang when it comes to rusting is the undercarriage of the car.

The undercarriage in winter climates is especially exposed to road salt, which can get embedded and then not cleaned off because many forget to wash the car’s undercarriage in their normal car washing.

The undercarriage will also be highly likely to experience rust in very humid climates, and especially those close to the sea with additional sea salt in the air.

Another key vulnerable area is the hood of the car, especially on older Ford Mustang models.

Aluminum oxide can build up under the paint, which creates an unattractive bubbling effect.

The bubbles themselves don’t necessarily appear rusty, but underneath them, rust can take hold.

If you’re buying a Mustang in a climate that’s humid or that experiences harsh winters with a lot of road salt, you should also check under the hood.

The main bolts that hold the engine together have been known to rust when the car isn’t properly stored and/or cared for.

After How Many Years Do Mustangs Start To Rust?

For the most part, a Ford Mustang when properly cared for won’t start to show signs of rust until perhaps 10 years into its life.

Those who live in climates where rust is more likely have to actively take steps to ensure that rust can’t set in.

This means regular washing of the car and using paint protection measures such as synthetic wax/sealants, as well as things like a ceramic coating.

These will help prevent the oxidation that causes rust in the first place.

It has been known for Ford Mustangs to start rusting after just 3 years, especially when climate and a lack of care on the owner’s part are allowed to take hold.

Does Waxing Avoid Rusting?

Rust is caused by corrosion and oxidation. These can happen when a surface is exposed to persistent water and oxygen from the air.

Car wax is a sealant designed to plug those gaps and now allow either moisture or air in.

Proper application of car wax, which means washing thoroughly before new layers are applied, can be part of an effective anti-rust strategy that gives great results.

Owners shouldn’t believe, however, that waxing alone will solve all rust problems.

A lot of attention needs also to be paid to the wider climate and presence of salt on the road.

Is There A Special Liquid To Wash Off Salt?

You can buy certain products that may claim to be effective at properly removing salt, but actually, there’s no need to purchase those.

You can make your own cleaning solution that is cheap and very effective against salt in particular.

If you mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar, you can spray it or rub it directly into affected areas and you can get amazing results.

All you have to do is rub the solution into affected areas softly with a soft-bristled brush where appropriate and a cloth for other areas.

Salt will emerge from the surface and get absorbed into the solution, which you can then wipe away with a clean and dry microfiber towel.

Does Ford Have A Corrosion Policy?

Ford does have a corrosion policy within its standard new vehicle warranty, at least for paint it does.

Paint is covered for 3 years or 36,000 miles for factory defects, corrosion damage, damage caused by airborne material, and corrosion that results in perforation.

There is also a special corrosion warranty available that has unlimited mileage and a 5-year limit. This one covers body sheet metal panels and aluminum panels.

This only applies, however, if the rust is determined to have been caused by defect or under normal usage circumstances.

If it is found that abnormal uses, accidents, or driver actions have caused corrosion, then they are not covered by this special extended warranty.

Are There Anti Rust Treatments In A Car Wash?

Yes, some car washes provide something called a “full service” car wash which can help prevent rust by effectively removing any and all contaminants that are likely to lead to rust in a car.

Car washes sometimes also offer protective coatings that like waxes can help to prevent moisture and air from reaching the point it needs to oxidize and cause rust to the metal surfaces.

Are Some Colors More Likely To Rust Than Others?

On Ford models, all the paints undergo the same levels of treatment and protection and therefore there are no colors of vehicles that are more likely to rust.

Only in very rare cases do certain models of vehicles anywhere experience more rust based on color, and it’s actually more to do with the chemical composition of the paint rather than the color itself.

The only thing you could say is that rust is bound to be more visible on brighter-color Mustangs like white, yellow, bright green, etc.

How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Mustang Completely?

For a more standard paint job on a Ford Mustang in OEM colors, you should expect to pay something between $5,000 and $10,000.

If you expect a customized, more concourse-quality paint job on a Ford Mustang, then the cost can escalate much higher to the realm of $20,000.

These are the paint jobs for competitions that help Mustangs to win awards.

Where To Check For Rust When Buying A Used Mustang?

When you are buying a Mustang, there are several places to inspect for rust.

In truth, you should look carefully over the entire car, but the following places have proved the most susceptible:

  • Undercarriage and underside of the car
  • Wheel arches
  • Hood
  • Engine bolts

Always inspect at least these four areas first, and even every component on the underside. All are very exposed to rusting.

Can A Previous Collision Cause Rust?

Yes, it can. If a vehicle has been involved in an accident, then the body and paint may have become damaged.

Dents, creases, deep scratches, and similar damage leave the body exposed to rusting conditions.

Rust doesn’t have to happen as a result of a collision, but any part of the bodywork or other damaged part of the car that isn’t repaired on time will certainly be likely to end up like a rusted area.