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Hello. We bought a 2012 pilot EX-L last year and have been pretty satisfied with it overall. It is our first Honda, and my wife's daily driver.

We live on gravel roads, and generally take about 7 miles of gravel per day. I noticed this has beat up the lower 6 inches or so of the doors and fenders. Little chips are appearing in the finish in this area. There are no running boards on the vehicle, and no plastic cladding here, as on several other vehicles we own.. (Taurus x, older Chrysler Town and country). I'd like the body to be rust free for as long as possible, since we may have this for 5 years or so.... Which would be a pleasure if it goes like the first year of ownership.

Anyone have an idea of how to protect this area? I thought about some sort of rock guard coating or something, but have no idea. Also, maybe running boards would help? I can post pics of the damage tomorrow, if it helps.
 

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running boards do help out a lot in this situation. . .. knowing the route she takes this was not taken into consideration when looking at the pilot ? could look for something in terms of body panels they are available for jeeps and stuff nothing for the pilot without any modifications ...
 

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I'd like the body to be rust free for as long as possible, since we may have this for 5 years or so.... Which would be a pleasure if it goes like the first year of ownership.
This won't prevent more damage, but given your situation you might consider learning to do touchups yourself.

Etching primer and some micro-applicators will protect bare metal. Clean the surface with rubbing alcohol before you dab the paint on. Its very quick. If you have a light color, it won't stand out badly if you don't want to apply the surface color.

Adding the surface color takes time to smooth and finish, but it might be adequate for your purposes to just leave it unfinished.

Get the primer and a single-stage paint / hardener from an auto paint store. It will work much better than the cheaper touch-up colors.
 

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Thanks for the thoughts.

Tahoe, the pilot is the best fit for her, she had been driving a suburban for the previous 10 years, and had gotten tired of the size, driving a big vehicle all of the time (I drive the suburban now).
I still might add running boards, but I think it might decrease ground clearance a bit? Snow is a consideration around here. Last winter was the worst in 20 years, snow-wise. However, once the snow gets deep enough to catch on the running boards, she probably shouldn't be driving in it anyway.

Tacoma, that's helpful. I will need to touch up a few already. It is the light silver color, close to GM pewter color, don't know the exact color yet.

Looking around the web, I see a 3M clear film paint protection product, maybe this could be applied in the lower 6-8 inches or so?
 

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You might look into having a spray-on bed liner applied to that area. Line-X is what was sprayed in the bed of my previous truck and it handled much abuse without tearing. There are others available which you can self apply if you go the DIY route.
 

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I'd bedline from the farthest "out" point on the doors and down... never have to worry again.
 

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Running boards aren't the low points on the Pilot so snow clearance isn't really reduced. They've certainly saved the lowers on mine a lot from cinders and related winter damage. But they don't block everything.

On a previous car I had small plastic mud guards behind the front wheels. There were some tasteful but universal extensions I added to lower the rear edge a few inches total, and that helped immensely with stuff thrown by the front tires.

After that, another car in the fleet has a softer pebbled coating on the lowers, painted with flexible urethane bumper paint. Check with a local body shop for that recommendation. It solves the protection some plus takes car of the chips you've already accumulated.

There are several protective film products that are typically placed on front panels for general rock chip protection. Xpel is one that gets a lot or praise in a German car forum. A little searching will find what's available in your area.

I gave a lot of thought to doing film on the lower door areas on the Pilot from the side molding down, but have yet to pull the trigger. So far the running boards are soaking up the damage pretty well. I need to pull them and repaint the gravel-blasted brackets soon. I may try some spray undercoating or bedliner on the brackets to extend the life of the finish.
 
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