Eric Lai answers readers’ auto questions every week for Wheels.
Q: What’s your opinion on “electronic rustproofing” devices?
A: There’s actually a funny story/business lesson behind that topic.
Years ago, the sales manager for an electronic rustproofing gadget contacted Wheels by email. In perhaps the most alienating marketing strategy ever, he incessantly berated us as being remiss in not covering his company’s product “despite all the hurdles we’ve jumped through to prove our device.”
He should have checked with his boss or even done a simple online search before launching his angry tirade, as I had indeed written about their product just two months prior.
In reality, things weren’t as rosy about the electronic gadget as he made them out to be.
Aside from his company president’s position on the product, my article delved deeper and included the federal Competition Bureau’s reply, as well as the view of an independent consumer group.
While the Competition Bureau did terminate an investigation into unsubstantiated advertising claims about the device, they stressed that this was in no way an endorsement of the product or its efficacy – as was implied by the manufacturer. Officials also noted that while the one investigation had ended, this would have no bearing if any future investigation were to be launched.
Outspoken consumer advocate Mohamed Bouchama of Car Help Canada was more direct and said such devices were a waste of money, noting that another electronic rusproofing gizmo had been banned in Quebec.
Jumping to present day, the Automobile Protection Association’s website currently states “the APA is not convinced that electronic anti-rust devices provide good protection compared to the available alternatives. We do not recommend them.”
As for my position, I’ve yet to locate a university chemist or metallurgist not affiliated with the selling companies to independently validate whether such devices do indeed work on motor vehicles in real-life usage.
I’d also settle for a peer-reviewed report, published in a respected scientific journal, provided that it specifically examined the efficacy of automotive electronic rustproofing (rather than on bridges or ships).
I’ll keep an open mind, but at this time, I’ve yet to see sufficient evidence that electronic rustproofing actually works.
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