Do Steel Bumpers Rust?

We’ve had a lot of customers ask us if steel bumpers rust. So we’ve created this comprehensive guide to answer the question. In this guide, we’ll explore:

  • The relationship between steel bumpers and rust
  • How to prevent your steel bumper from rusting

So the answer is yes. Steel bumpers can rust. It’s because rust is oxidized iron. Steel is made from iron. That means any contact from moisture turns steel into rust.

Do Welds Rust Too?

Weld rust

Welds can rust too, especially if the welding process contaminates them. This happens when air pockets form within the weld. When it rains, for example, water goes into the air pockets and then rusts the weld from inside out. This weakens the metal, which leads to the weld breaking off.

So how does a weld become contaminated? Here are a few examples of how this can happen:

  • The metal isn’t clean of oil or dirt. These impurities contaminate the weld during the welding process.
  • Someone else is grinding metal nearby during the welding process. Tiny metal flakes can land onto the weld while it’s still hot.

Sometimes the welder or the tool(s) used during the process can create welds riddled with air pockets. For example, there may not be enough gas flow. A broken TIG, MIG, or stick welder could compromise a weld’s strength, as well.

This is why it’s important to buy a bumper with high-quality welds.

How To Prevent Rust

With steel bumpers, rust doesn’t have to be inevitable. There are two effective solutions that do a great job at preventing rust:

  1. Paint the bumper
  2. Powder coat the bumper

Paint and powder coating add a physical barrier between steel and moisture. Both paint and powder coating are resistant to moisture. That means both coatings won’t corrode and expose the metal underneath.

What Is Powder Coating?

Powder coating is a process that involves:

  • Applying dry powder to the bumper electrostatically
  • Curing the coating under heat to harden it

There are many types of powder coat material. We use powder coat material that includes plastic (thermoplastic or thermoset polymer). Plastic doesn't rust, so a powder-coated steel bumper won't rust.

While you could go out and buy a powder coating gun and other tools, it's still smart to leave it to a professional. An experienced professional will do the job right and make it look good. When you factor in the following costs, you'll find that hiring a professional is often cheaper than doing it yourself:

  • Tools
  • Materials (the powder, for example)
  • A powder coat oven that's large enough to fit a bumper
  • The time it will take for you to perfect the art of powder coating

If you were to buy a powder coating oven, the total cost of the project would be more than $5,000. It's so much cheaper to hire a professional. At Throttle Down Kustoms, we not only make quality steel bumpers, but we also powder coat them for only an extra few hundred dollars.

Painting Your Steel Bumper? What You Need To Know

Paint bumper

If you're looking for a DIY job, paint your steel bumper. It's a much easier and more affordable DIY job than powder coating.

If you're using paint, you want to make sure the steel is prepared right. If it's not finished and smooth, primer won't adhere correctly and the paint will:

  • Look bad
  • Be more likely to chip away

As the paint fails, rust will set in.

Why Is Primer Necessary?

Primer works as a protective coating. Basically, primer is paint with no moisture content. That means primer can stick to steel better than paint ever will.

Paint contains some moisture, which causes flaking and oxidation. This leads to rusting. Even though paint itself serves as a barrier between the steel and moisture, the primer needs to protect the steel from the paint. Also, primer bonds to the steel and the paint. This eliminates the need for a second coat of paint.

How To Paint Your Steel Bumper

If you order a bare steel bumper (like ours, which are ready to paint), here are the steps you should take:

  1. With 600 grit sandpaper, lightly sand the bumper to rough up the surface. This helps the primer stick better. If the bumper comes ready to paint, you don't need to do this.
  2. Wipe the bumper down with mineral spirits to get rid of the oil, grease, and dirt.
  3. Cover all the areas you don't want to be painted, such as license plate bracket holes, with masking tape.
  4. Apply the primer. Let dry.
  5. Apply the paint. Let dry.

A Quality Steel Bumper Brand Makes All The Difference

Quality aftermarket bumper

Even though a steel bumper needs paint or powder coating to not rust, it's still important to get a well built one. Here are 6 factors to look for in a steel bumper:

  1. 100% steel
  2. High-quality welding
  3. CNC cut steel plate
  4. Made in the USA
  5. Made to order
  6. Lifetime warranty

The last factor - lifetime warranty - is very important. It takes a while for a poorly built bumper to reveal any structural defects. That's why a one year warranty is pretty pointless when it comes to steel bumpers. At Throttle Down Kustoms, we understand this. We also have full confidence in the quality and durability of our bumpers. So we offer a comprehensive lifetime warranty policy you can read more about here.