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Aluminium body Vs. Road salt

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Tae Jo, Jul 26, 2014.

  1. Tae Jo

    Tae Jo Member

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    It's not quite ready to snow yet, but as a future owner of Model S (and Barrie resident), I'm wondering how the body holds up against salt during winter?
     
  2. djp

    djp Roadster 2.0 VIN939

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    Tough to say since most Model S's have only been through one winter. There were corrosion reports for the uncoated aluminum support brackets inside the side mirrors, but Tesla has fixed this in production. The body panels are all coated and painted so should be no worse than any other car.
     
  3. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    #3 wycolo, Jul 26, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014
    Key to corrosion is local climate. If moist, electrolysis will continue for extended periods. Under dry conditions the road splash will dissipate rapidly ending electrolysis. Being out in the open wind helps to dry up splash quickly. A warm garage is the WORST place to park a freshly chloride [CA or NA] splashed Tesla: warmth accelerates electrolysis and being enclosed means the air is not in motion.
    --
     
  4. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    By that you mean calcium or sodium?
     
  5. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    My car has been through two full Ottawa winters. Swimming in the salt. So far no evidence of corrosion on the body.

    I did have a problem with the front bumper carrier, but that was caused by insufficient galvanic isolation between the magnesium alloy carrier and the stainless bolts that held it. The problem was fixed and no repeat this last winter, so all good.
     
  6. catnip

    catnip Member

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    I owned a Honda Insight (hybrid) from 2000 to 2013. It also has a cast aluminum body, and I can tell you there was no sign of rust anywhere for 13 years.
     
  7. CanuckS#69

    CanuckS#69 Member

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    Mine has been through two winters and 85k km with plenty of salt exposure. No issues at all with the body. I had the same galvanic isolation issue as Doug, but service noticed it early and was quick to get the factory to issue a fix. My car was an early Sig and also had corrosion on the sig side signals, which was promptly handled by replacements that don't have the issue. AFAIK, current spec cars are perfect when it comes to corrosion resistance, even in our messy winters.
     
  8. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    I own a 1991 NSX which has an aluminum body and suspension which has been in New England its whole life and there is no corrosion at all except on the steel components of the suspension, e.g. the sway bars.
     
  9. Evbwcaer

    Evbwcaer Member

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    I had an aluminum Honda Insight in Minnesota and it never had any rust issues. I don't know what type of aluminum the Insight was made of. I hear talk of aluminum corroding or rusting, but just never see it, let alone to the point of being anything beyond cosmetic.

    This winter I rented an old aluminum canoe in FL, used in saltwater probably for decade, it was fine and un-coated. It was stored out of the water.

    I am hoping with the mechanical simplicity of the an electric car and aluminum construction, my Model S will last for a very very long time, maybe getting a new battery every decade.
     
  10. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    One catch with aluminum corrosion though when compared to rust is that it's less obvious. when a steel car rusts, the corrosion could be smaller than a dime, and leave a streak over a foot long of orange that you can see. Makes it appear much worse than it is. Aluminum on the other hand doesn't leave that bright visible residue, and any residue it does leave is white/grey so it blends in with normal dirt and isn't so noticeable.

    This is good and bad. It means that for the same level of corrosion, an aluminum vehicle will look much better than a steel one, but it also means it's much harder to notice small problems in the first place. As has been pointed out, the Tesla is still a "new" car, I wouldn't expect to notice visible rust on a steel car that's only 2 years old, so not seeing the even harder to spot corrosion on an aluminum vehicle is no surprise.
     
  11. Evbwcaer

    Evbwcaer Member

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    I thought that when aluminum corrodes it immediately form an oxide layer that prevents further corrosion, sort of self healing.

    It seems like "corrosion" for aluminum means a basically a non-spreading, cosmetic blemish. For steel it means a progressing process where parts of the car no longer exist.

    Can somebody with more knowledge speak to this. Can aluminum be corroded to the point where there are concerns beyond cosmetic?

    The un-coated aluminum canoe in the ocean doing fine puts me totally at ease regarding the Tesla body and salt/chlorides. Maybe I am being naive?
     
  12. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    Aluminum can and does corrode all the way through, and can be as much of a problem as rust (not just cosmetic) That said, I believe that you are right to some extent in that it isn't quite the "cancer" that rust is to iron.

    View attachment 52867
    View attachment 52866

    Up until a year or two ago our city transit still had a fair number of buses on the road from the late 1970s or early 1980s. They had an aluminum body, and despite various retrofits over the years you could see right through the body panels around the wheel wells.
     
  13. jamieb

    jamieb Member

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    Lots of useful information in the general aviation world, most general aviation aircraft have aluminum cladding and they've been dealing with this issue for decades. See:

    Aircraft Corrosion - AOPA


    Take home message - keep the aircraft (or Model S) clean and dry as much of the time as possible and rinse off road salt soon if you're exposed to it.
     
  14. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Ha ha ha ha! That's a good one! I'll rinse off my Model S in February, so it ends up frozen to the driveway. Then the next day I'll chip it out of my now skating-rink-driveway and go expose it to some more salt bath.

    Practically speaking, you just have to trust that Tesla has applied appropriate surface protection.
     
  15. jamieb

    jamieb Member

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    Ahh... you bring back memories. I grew up not far from you in Montréal. You're right, it's the freeze-thaw-freeze that does most of the damage, when it's consistently below freezing best to leave it alone and rinse off once you have a chance for it to dry off safely before freezing again. I had a heated garage growing up and there was a thick layer of salt on the floor at the end of the winter each year that I rinsed down in the spring.

    I guess having lived in California for 25+ years, I now regard winter as something you go to (think Lake Tahoe). In our case it's important to rinse off the road salt once you return to warmer climes.

    We can only hope so... in a few years it will be interesting to compare the body integrity of Teslas kept in California and Arizona compared to those based in Canada and the Northeast US.
     
  16. hybridbear

    hybridbear Member

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    It's been over a year since the last post. Has anyone started seeing body issues?
     
  17. green1

    green1 Active Member

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  18. RiverBrick

    RiverBrick Active Member

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  19. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    So far the only corrosion issues I have had are things that were very minor issues in the early cars (well the first one was a little bigger), and all have been resolved.

    My Model S is a 2012 Signature (actually the first delivered in Canada, by 15 minutes or so). The worst problem was the front bumper holder corroding through during the first winter (previously reported on the forum but I'll summarize so you won't have to dig). This was caused by dissimilar metals - galvanic corrosion. There was a large insulating washer protecting the bolt from the magnesium alloy carrier, but large quantities of salt water apparently created a path. Obviously my salt test (Ottawa winter) was far more thorough than theirs! The fix was to replace a couple of washers, and they also replaced my bolts, and of course the bumper carrier. I verified after the next winter that the problem was completely fixed. I think only a few very early customers experienced this; right after they resolved the problem on my car they did a service bulletin and replaced the washers on everyone's cars. It was a simple and inexpensive fix.

    My mirror brackets got replaced, a couple of years ago. They had to remove my mirrors while working on something else, and officially they said the mounts didn't reinstall correctly, but I'm sure it was actually corrosion risk. I've seen the brackets and they're basically attached by self-tapping screws, and once those are pulled out, the next time you probably don't get a hermetic metal-on-metal bond. (I have seen issues like this before at work.) Pretty sure this is something long since resolved.

    My "Signature" sidelight badges rusted internally at first - they were replaced.

    My car is in the middle of its 4th winter. It still looks good - no complaints. I once had a Toyota Corolla that was a rust bucket after four years. We'll see what happens over time but there's no evidence of anything happening right now.
     
  20. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    True, but a steel car this age would be unlikely to be showing any rust either, and aluminium corrosion, even if just as bad, will be much harder to spot as it doesn't leave big orange streaks everywhere. So it will be a while yet before we know anything here.
     

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