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Extra Charges: Little evidence to support electronic rust protection, despite high install costs, report says

Toronto, Ontario — With Canadian drivers doing all they can to keep their vehicles on the road and avoid today’s precarious buying market, many are looking to the aftermarket for products to bolster their ride’s lifespan, as a recent report from CTV News shone a light on one particularly contentious piece of equipment.

Jennifer Capel of Mississauga, Ont. spent more than $1,400 on rust protection for her 2017 Ford Escape. Setting aside the extended warranty she purchased from the dealer, Capel says it is the $903 electronic rust protection module and $565 paint protection that have her feeling cheated.

“I was just so upset because I paid extra for paint and rust protection and I have peeling paint and rust at the bottom of my driver’s side and passenger side doors,” she said.

“Between the paint and rust protection that I paid for it was over $1,400 and what did it do? It doesn’t seem like it did anything.”

Electronic rust protection modules are the subject of great debate among automotive refinishers and body technicians, as the technology is a transplant from the marine industry and has been shown to be effective in preventing corrosion on boats.

The modules allegedly function by emitting a weak electric charge throughout a vehicle’s body, interrupting the interaction between metal and oxygen that causes rust to form.

Critics contend that electronic rust protection is only effective on boats because they are typically submerged in salt water, meaning the device primarily contends with dissolved waterborne electrolytes, instead of the slightly different conditions of airborne oxidization.

CTV spoke with Garrett Nalepka, an automotive technology instructor at Centennial College in Scarborough, Ont., who said the jury is still out when it comes to the efficacy of electronic corrosion protection on cars.

“We have seen over time several of these companies come and go and they always claim that the electric devices are working to prevent rust, but we really don’t have a lot of evidence if they are working or not,” he said.

The director of the Automobile Protection Association (APA), George Iny, voiced stronger feelings on the issue, saying “the APA does not recommend electronic rust protection…it’s overpriced, it’s the most expensive of the rust proofing treatments.”

“We’ve seen it sold for up to $2,000 or $1,800 and it’s the one with the least scientific backing.”

Nalepka and Iny agreed that, as it stands, rust-proofing oil sprays and other moisture repellents are the proven way to go for drivers looking to get the most life out of their vehicle’s body.

The cost to have a vehicle oil sprayed is around $150 on average.

Have you ever come across an electronic rust control module on a customer’s vehicle? Have you ever installed one? What is your take on them? Let us know in the comments below.

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