Rust, Rust, Glorious Rust!!

With winter finally upon us and the UK roads getting regularly spread with salt, it's a good time to mention how rust affects our beloved Land Cruisers and to provide some tips for avoiding problems.

How are they affected?

Apart from the old 60 series that used to disintegrate at the merest sniff of moisture, overall most Land Cruisers built after 1990 are pretty well protected as standard from the factory, although they do struggle a bit with road or sea salt.

Land Cruisers are perfect tow vehicles so they often get used for launching boats and so regularly get the back end dunked in the sea water at the same time.  The rustiest examples we have seen in the workshop have come from launching boats - they almost all have a tide line of rust on them from the front mud flaps to above the rear bumper.

The salt spread on the roads is also another killer, it gets all over the underside of the car, particularly under the back of the car and then as the thaw comes the layer of salt attracts the moisture and starts to corrode the metal.

Of all the models, the 90 series with the fuel tank under the boot seems to suffer the worst - the salty water collects around the rear axle and fuel tank causing severe rusting of the axle casing, fuel tank and guard as well as the outlet pipes on the fuel tanks.

The 80 and 100 series are a little higher, which seems to help.  Road salt doesn't seem to affect the rear axle as much, but does have a habit of collecting around behind the rear mud flaps, on the fuel filler pipe running to the tank as well as in some cases the sills in front of the rear wheels.

Something else to mention whilst not specifically a rust issue, on all the series a common point of failure due to rot are the rear diff lock actuators - aluminium and steel generally don't play nicely together, but in a dry environment you should be reasonably OK.   However if you throw some salty water at them the rot sets in causing the alloy housings on the actuators to start to dissolve where they touch steel - at nearly £1k a pop this is an expensive repair.

Underbody Protection

In most cases it is the salt that does the damage so it is important to keep it off the bare metal.

Traditionally you can use a Waxoyl or Dinitrol product to coat the underside of the vehicle, keeping the salt water away from the metal and treating any underlying rust.  We have tried both products, but have settled with the Dinitrol range because they provide a good range of products for different applications

In most cases this works fine, however areas like the rear axle get almost sand blasted as you drive along rough roads and tracks and then you have a bigger problem - the moisture gets underneath the rust treatment causing more damage than if it was allowed to just run off.

One cheaper solution that we recommend is to get a garden sprinkler and periodically run it under the car to give it a good soaking - this works a lot better than most pressure washers because it gets in to all the nooks and crannies and has the benefit of cleaning the underside at the same time (we prefer clean cars in the workshop J).  With models like the 80s, the rust behind the rear mud flaps is accelerated by the build-up of dirt there that seems to retain the salt water for a lot longer.


The salty water can spray all over the car and in the engine bay so another trick I have seen is to keep the engine bay area liberally coated in WD40 - it does make it a little harder to spot fuel leaks, but does reduce the amount of corrosion on the engine and ancillaries.

Rust around some of the windows, particularly the upper tailgate windows on the 80s is a perennial problem - the water builds up around the seals and sits there doing it's damage.  The best solution is to get a sealant like Arbomast or even a basic silicone based sealant and squirt that around the seals to stop the moisture from getting behind there

Please wipe your feet...

Whilst we all love playing in the snow and mud, do be conscious that every time you get in and out of the car the chances are you are dumping a load of moisture into the car eventually soaking the carpets.  

The key thing is just to be conscious that you may be doing it and to check the carpets regularly.  Even if you have rubber mats in the car the water could be flowing under them and preventing the carpets below from drying properly.

Whilst many people hate it, your aircon does a fantastic job of drying out a car's interior and keeping the screens clean so if you can, make sure you keep it running over the winter.

If the carpets get really soaked the only option really is to pull up the trim around the door ways and then lift the carpet so that the air can circulate under it.  We have a small fan heater that we use - we hold the carpet up with a strip of wood and then blow warm air under it.  If the carpet is double thickness with a layer of sound proofing on the bottom, separate the two layers so speed drying.

Actually the old trick of putting screwed up newspapers down wellies to dry them could also work, putting the balls of newspapers between the carpet layers will keep them separated and the newspapers should draw out the moisture.


If you have existing rust it is essential to treat it to prevent it spreading.  There are many treatments on the market for rust - ideally aim for a product that will convert the existing rust in to an inert state and then re-spray the area to keep the moisture out.

Currently in the workshop we tend to clean off the old loose rust and then spray with Dinitrol's Converust 900 which provides a good base for later spraying and then we use Dinitrol's ML spray on components that we work on to prevent rust starting.


Well that covers most of the bases.  There will always be exceptions to the rule, b ut hopefully this will help get you on track to keep the rust at bay.

Stay warm.



  1. I really like this article, because he always give me some inspiration.

    Gravatar of nike tnnike tn
    Posted Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 10:02:51 AM
  2. Good article, re. my potential purchase of an '02 Colorado. Thanks

    Gravatar of Peter WoodPeter Wood
    Posted Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 2:11:50 PM

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