Rust is the skin cancer of your vehicle, and often it creeps up without you even noticing. The best to deal with rust, though, is to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place. Here are some suggestions for keeping your car rust-free during its lifetime -- even as it gets older.
1. Wash your car.
This is the simplest and most important advice. Wash your car. If you can't afford to do it every week, try for twice a month. It's especially important to stay on top of washing your car during the winter if you live in a cold climate, because the roads are salted and sanded, and these accelerate corrosion. Also, snow melts on your car, so winter driving makes your car wetter for longer. The steel exterior of your car needs water for oxidation, and oxidation causes rust.
After washing your car or driving in the rain, park your car in the garage and use a microfiber cloth to wipe off the excess moisture. Don't forget to dry the hard-to-reach, less obvious places the the bottoms of the doors and the drain holes that allow rain water to drip from the chassis. You can use pipe cleaners in the small drip holes at the bottom of the doors (a common place for rust to start).
2. Use your garage.
Keeping your car out of the rain and snow when it is parked will definitely deter rust, but many Americans are keeping nice cars on the street or in the driveway because they are using the garage for storage. In fact, even though 82% of homes in the US have 2+ car garages, only 15% of homeowners actually park their cars inside them. If this is the case with you, do you best to get the garage cleared out. If you can't get rid of some of your stuff, opt to rent a storage unit or put a shed in the backyard to store items like lawnmowers and tools that don't necessary need to be in the garage.
3. Fix nicks, dents and scratches right away.
If your exterior finish is marred, go to an auto body shop to have it sealed with a rust protectant and repaired with matching paint. It might seem like just a small cosmetic issue, but that small scratch can become a much larger rust spot, which will be more costly and difficult to repair.