Updated November 2017
Promotion and sale of units for retarding rust electronically (for RVs etc) was banned in the USA in the 1990s. One brand (CECI) is now banned in Australia. Their sale is an offence under Section 218 of the Australian Consumer Law. The details are at the end of this article). In 2015 the NSW Fair Trade Commissioner warned against buying such products.
Retarding rust electronically – how it is (claimed) to work
The form of claimed rust protection was (vendor explained) as this. It is to ‘impress (via capacitive coupling) a controlled, pulsed high voltage low level current onto a vehicle’s chassis and body. That partially nullifies the electron flow that causes the rusting.’ That is a (now ex) vendor explanation, not mine).
The technology involved is basic. It has long been in the public domain. Googling reveals details of how to build a unit yourself.
Retarding rust electronically – USA banned it
In the 1990s, this issue came to a head The USA Federal Trade Commission accepted there was evidence of rust retardation, but that promotional claims were extreme, As a result it specifically banned further promotion.
The CECI unit. Pic: original source HPC.
In the early 2000s, CSIRO-refereed tests of the Raider unit concluded it was an ‘effective method’ of rust protection. ‘Effective’, however, was neither qualified nor quantified. Raider Electronics claimed ‘it is not a miracle cure’ but nevertheless ‘typically retards rusting by a factor of four to five’.
My own testing
I tested a similar Raider unit for Endrust Australia. The test vehicle was my 1994 OKA. Four bare steel test strips were bolted directly to the truck’s chassis. Thick Teflon isolated four identical strips from the chassis. These were the unprotected control units.
The test OKA often experienced river crossings like this!. Tip of Cape York – far North Queensland. Pic: caravanandmotorhomebooks.com
The OKA was parked 300 metres from the Indian Ocean, north of Broome. It was thus exposed constantly to wind-blown salty air. It was also driven over 90,000 km. This included three months in Cape York. Plus twelve return trips to and from the east coast, via Alice Springs.
Inside three weeks, both sets of strips acquired a soft light-brown powdery coating. The unprotected strips heavily rusted after two/three months. They eventually became deeply pitted. The coating on the protected strips however could be partially wiped off. Doing so exposed relatively clean metal. The body’s small scratches of bare metal likewise acquired this soft coating.
At the end of the five year test, the unprotected (control) strips were badly rusted. The protected ones also rusted – but less so.
To a minor extent, the Raider unit retarded rusting. I could, however find no way of quantifying this. Their difference in weight was negligible. Others using such products report similarly.
Endrust consequently ceased distributing the product.
A curious effect
There is, however, a curious effect. Paint work acquires and retains a ‘bloom’. This disappears shortly after the unit is turned off. I have no idea why. It is, nevertheless, readily and reliably demonstrated. For example, I captured it on camera. Others using this unit similarly report the same experience.
The technology has some effect, but not as (then) widely claimed. It is not, in my opinion, remotely as effective as conventional methods. On the other hand, it may assist to retard (but not prevent) rust on very old vehicles. There is, however, still a risk of structural corrosion.
Retarding rust electronically – a now less need
Since 2000 there have been major advances in vehicle manufacturing. Rusty vehicles are now rare – unless driven often on beaches. Or exposed to strong, salt-laden winds.It’s a bit late for this one! Pic: original source unknown.
For legal reason this article cannot thus comment on still available units for which rust protection is nevertheless claimed.
The (late 2015) Australian ruling relates to High Performance Corporation (HPC) distributing CECI units to Western Australian retailers. The units were publicy claimed to ‘drastically reducing the rate at which rust forms’. The ruling similarly relates to the MotorOne Group (motoronefleet.com).
If you bought units you are thus likely entitled to a refund. See also Annexure A – Clause 2 Corrective Notice – of the above.
If you find this article of value, please see my books. Caravan & Motorhome Electrics covers every aspect in depth. Solar That Really Works covers RV solar. Solar Success does likewise for homes and properties. The Caravan & Motorhome Book covers RV choice, design, building and usage. The Camper Trailer Book ditto in that area. For author info: Click on Bio.
This topic occasionally arises on forums. If it could assist others consider adding this Link.