True enthusiasts wreak havoc on their cars, and they know it. It comes as no surprise then when they find little tread left after a day at the track or a scraped underside earned from an aggressive combination of damper stiffness and ride height. Chipped-up bumpers, seats timeworn from ingress and egress, bent control arms, and an interior embedded with the scent of high-octane race gas are what racing does. We see things wear out, most of the time with a watchful eye. Keeping tabs on tire tread disintegration over the course of several months isn't hard. But then there are those problems that cannot always be monitored, those that really don't make themselves known until the day something once expensive becomes worth very little - seemingly overnight. Problems caused by rust.

Rust is an oxide, a chemical compound that contains oxygen. It forms when iron is exposed to open-air oxidation, which is pretty much all the time. Rust is the buildup that cakes up on iron and its alloys like steel caused by the oxygen content present in the air and in water. Chemically, it looks like Fe2O3. Pure iron is rare since it reacts so easily with oxygen, that's where the oxygen part of the equation comes from. The corrosive, electrochemical rusting process starts with an easily oxidized piece of metal that wants to give away electrons (the anode), a liquid-like water to help the electrons move (an electrolyte), and another not so easily oxidized piece of metal that wants to take the electrons (a cathode). The anode and cathode can both be found on the same piece of metal. When corrosion happens, the electrolytes give oxygen to the anode, which sends electrons to the cathode, turning the metal of the anode into rust. When water comes into contact with iron it reacts with the air's carbon dioxide to become a weak carbonic acid. This process dissolves the iron and releases hydrogen and oxygen from the water, which makes iron oxide and disintegrates the expensive metal parts on your car. But rust is not an irreversible process - if it's caught in time.