Steps For Repairing Surface Rust On A Vehicle

17 March 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Older model cars often have a body made of metal and have the tendency to rust with age. If you notice that your vehicle has a bubbled up look about the paint in certain areas, this is a good sign that there may be surface rust developing. These are the steps for repairing surface rust on the body of your vehicle.

Accessing The Rusted Area 

You will first need to determine if your car has only surface rust or if it has rusted through the metal. If the metal is rusted through, you will need to cut out the metal and then weld on a new piece to replace it.

However, if it is only surface rust, it is possible to repair it without cutting the metal. You can test the rusted metal by tapping it with the tip of a nail. If the nail goes through the metal, it cannot be repaired. If it does not, this is only surface rust and can be repaired rather easily.

Stripping The Paint 

You will need to remove the paint on the exterior of the rusted area. This can be done by using a sanding wheel with sand paper, a wire wheel on a drill or a commercial grade paint stripper and a spatula. Be sure to wear protective eye wear and a face mask when removing the paint. If you use paint stripper, wear gloves to protect your hands as well.

The paint will need to be removed down to the bare metal. If you use paint stripper, apply it thoroughly to the rusted area and allow it to sit for several minutes before using the spatula to scrape away the paint. The paint will bubble and peel when it is ready to be scraped away. Be sure to protect the metal around the rusted area to ensure you do not sand or strip away any of the paint on the metal that is not rusted.

Removing The Rust 

Once the paint is removed, it is time to also remove the rust. This can be done by sanding with a wire wheel on a drill or with an electric grinder. Take your time and work slowly to remove only the rusted area of metal. Finish it off by using a fine grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface.

If there are any remaining rusted areas that could not be removed successfully, apply a chemical rust converter with a paintbrush and allow it to air dry. The rust converter converts the rust to a polymer finish that can be more easily painted and will prevent further rusting.

After the rust is removed and converted, it can then be primed with three thin layers of primer. Allow the primer to dry thoroughly overnight. Then sand the area gently with fine grit sand paper again to remove any uneven surfaces. Wipe away all primer dust and apply your auto paint in thin layers as well. Allow each layer of paint to dry a few hours before adding the next. When the final layer of paint is added, let the paint dry overnight before driving. 

For professional help, contact a service like Auto Body By Duie LLC​.