Preventing electronics corrosion

Preventing Electronics Corrosion on Computers, Integrated Circuits, and Microchips

Electronics corrosion can occur in integrated circuits, microchips, lighting systems, PCB assemblies, marine equipment, and computers – all of which are broadly used and routinely exposed to potentially destructive environmental conditions. Corrosion can be costly and potentially dangerous for individuals, small businesses, and property owners who rely on these electronic systems being in good  working order at all times. Fortunately, there are simple, inexpensive ways to prevent electronics corrosion – namely, VCI anti-tarnish capsules.

But first, let’s talk about the science behind electronics corrosion. Corrosion is the gradual breakdown of material (typically metal) as a result of some chemical reaction with the environment. One of the most common forms of corrosion is called rust, which occurs when the metal iron (or its alloys, such as steel) meets with oxygen and water or moisture. The result is iron oxide, more commonly known as rust.

As anti-corrosion specialists, we recognize that many electronic devices have complex designs and numerous components that are vulnerable to corrosion. However, it’s not typically “rust” that’s occurring. That’s because electronics tend to be made of other types of metal besides iron or iron alloys. Most are made with materials like copper, lithium, tin, silver, gold, nickel, and aluminum. To be clear: These metals can certainly be vulnerable to water and moisture corrosion, but it’s not the exact same as “rust” because that is a specific chemical process dealing with iron. But what’s equally a problem with metal components is something called galvanic corrosion. This is corrosive damage caused by one reactive metal’s proximity to/interactions with other dissimilar metals.

Electronics that are notorious for all kinds of corrosion issues are:

  • Integrated circuits (ICs)
  • Printed circuit boards (PCB)
  • Switches
  • Magnetic Recording Media (Hard disc)
  • Packaging and Shielding Parts

Although corrosion has been an issue for electronics just as long as they’ve been around, we’re hearing more about it because as a society, we’re using electronics more than ever before. Not only that, but there’s a high expectation that all of our electronic devices will be reliable under almost all conditions. Corrosion threatens functional reliability – and it can happen very quickly. This is especially true considering the growing trend toward miniaturization (the sizing of electronics has decreased by a factor of 10 over just the last few years). The result is that potentially reactive metals are placed in even closer proximity to each other, heightening the galvanic corrosion risk. Also with smaller devices, we see huge damage with seemingly small environmental impacts. Just a little exposure to water or slight exposure to reactive metal and the whole thing malfunctions.

All of this makes preventative measures – particularly those that are easy and inexpensive – a smart protection of your investment.

car cover car rust prevention

Keep Your Car Rust Free With a Corrosion-Fighting Car Cover

Rust is a silent killer of cars, inconspicuously creeping in, concealing its calamitous presence in the undercarriage, door frame, and internal mechanics. Understanding top car rust myths – and taking appropriate action when cleaning and storing your coupe – can help you steer clear of the worst impacts vehicle corrosion.

Before we get rolling on the myths and misconceptions about vehicle rust it’s important to explain why cars get rusty in the first place. As our car rust prevention experts can explain, rust is the electrochemical process of iron-based metals breaking down due to exposure to water (or even just moisture) and oxygen. This occurs in virtually all cars, even newer models, despite advances in outer coatings and the use of alloys as opposed to pure iron. But anything containing iron (including steel, a common component in cars) is going to rust eventually. The question is, how long can you prolong that reality? Answer: Quite a long time, if you’re cautious and using the right cleaning processes and storage tools.

Regular and thorough cleaning AND drying, as well as the use of a rust prevention car cover, can go a long way.

Most Common Car Rust Myths

  • Myth No. 1: Vehicle rust is usually visible. Unfortunately, oxidation (the chemical process that causes rust) frequently occurs in the areas of a vehicle that aren’t blatantly obvious. People are often concerned about how rust will impact the look of the car, but that doesn’t typically happen until the later stages. Early signs of rust – the point at which mitigating it is most effective – often go unnoticed, particularly on the undercarriage and inner components, which are some of the most vulnerable. Once rust sets in, car owners are faced with some potentially expensive solutions for getting rid of it. It’s always better to approach with a preventative solution.
  • Myth No. 2: Newer cars won’t rust. If you’re comparing cars made today to those produced decades ago, then yes, modern cars have an advantage when it comes to corrosion. (Cheap cars made in the 1970s started to rust almost as soon as they hit the docks. Owners of classic cars have to be especially careful when it comes to automobile rust prevention.)  However, that doesn’t mean newer cars are immune. Many newer models on the market are manufactured with a layer of plastic around the chassis, but this is primarily to improve fuel economy and reduce wind resistance. What it won’t do is block moisture and dirt from worming their way into the undercarriage and other components. That creates a perfect environment for rust and other forms of corrosion to take hold.
  • Myth No. 3: Regular car washing makes a vehicle more prone to rust. We think this misconception arose from the notion that high-pressure water and/or harsh chemical cleaners might cause damage to paint, increasing the car’s vulnerability to corrosion. The reality is that when you wash the car, you’re clearing out the dirt and other impurities that can accelerate metal corrosion over time. This is especially true in northern states during the winter months, when salt covers the roads, as a build up of salt can hasten the rust process. Because this is a particular problem with the undercarriage, be sure to wash underneath your car with either a pressure washer or in an automatic car wash. (And don’t put any type of car cover on your vehicle until it’s fully dried, as this can trap moisture inside, potentially kick-starting the rust process.)
  • Myth No. 4: Car rust risk is the same no matter where you live. Although it’s true that there is the potential for rust no matter where you’re parked, the reality is there are some climates where vehicles are more vulnerable to oxidation. Exposure to moisture is a big factor. That’s why your car is more likely to develop rust in Louisiana than Nevada. An aggravating factor in the corrosion process is salt., which boosts water’s ability to carry electrons. If you live on the coast, your vehicle is going to be at higher risk of rust than someone living further inland (assuming the latter isn’t exposed to copious amounts of road salt in the winter; road de-icers are known to cause $3 billion annually in vehicle rust costs).
  • Myth No. 5: Cars kept in garages or under car covers won’t rust. Garages do help protect vehicles from many of the external pollutants to which they may otherwise be exposed if parked on the driveway, street, or parking lot. But garages aren’t necessarily a shield-all. Neither are car covers, for that matter. The bigger factor is ensuring the car is both clean and dry when it goes into storage. You also want to limit the amount of moist air to which the vehicle is exposed while in storage. We recommend using a Zerust car cover – whether in a garage or elsewhere – because it not only protects against the elements, but the chemical rusting process as well.

prevent car rust car coverMany factors play into how fast a car will rust, including which iron alloy components are used, the thickness of those materials, the local climate, and the degree of care one puts into cleaning and storage. Vehicle owners can slow the process considerably by washing their car regularly, drying it thoroughly and keeping it parked in a cool, dry space. Lots of car coverings will offer some degree of protection against sun, water, and dust, but only Zerust car covers with vapor corrosion inhibiting (VCI) technology effectively protect against rust and corrosion without expensive anti-rust treatments. We offer four different sizes – lined or unlined – priced between $250 and $400, each offering a full five years of active, anti-rust protection.

If you have questions about our car covers or the best size fit for your vehicle, our dedicated rust prevention specialists are available with prompt answers.

Contact Zerust for information on car covers and information on preventing classic car rust by emailing us or calling (330) 405-1965.

Additional Resources:

How to Prevent and Remove Rust on Your Car Like a Pro, Jan. 10, 2022, By Ben Wojdyla, Popular Mechanic

More Blog Entries:

Zerust Car Covers Help Prevent Undercarriage Rust, March 12, 2021, VCI Car Cover Rust Prevention Blog