How to Remove & Stop Rust on Cars

Written by trudie longren
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How to Remove & Stop Rust on Cars
Ignoring rust can compromise the frame of an automobile. (car image by Arman Zhenikeyev from

Rust is the main enemy to the body of your automobile. Rust eats away at the frame of a car and without proper removal can seriously compromise the exterior of an auto. Whether you are a collector looking to do your own minor repairs or a used car owner looking to save some money, you can safely remove rust on the exterior of a vehicle and prevent that rust from reappearing. Most auto stores carry supplies that can help do-it-yourself car maintenance achieve a professional-looking result.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Electric grinder/sander
  • Metal grinding wheel
  • 150-grit sanding wheel
  • 150-grit hand sand paper
  • Body filler
  • Rust inhibitor, such as Rust Bullet
  • Painter's tape
  • Auto body primer with rust inhibitor, such as Rust-Oleum
  • Auto body paint (with rust resistance)
  • Auto body wax
  • Auto detergent

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  1. 1

    Sand away the rust. Begin with an electric grinder and a 150-grit sanding wheel; follow with a metal grinding wheel and finish with hand sanding, using 150-grit sandpaper. Take care to remove all rust.

  2. 2

    Fill dents and uneven surfaces with a body filler, such as Bondo. Make an effort to even the surface where the rust was removed with the surface of the auto that is rust-free and painted.

  3. 3

    Apply a rust inhibitor to the bare metal where rust has been removed. Your auto supply store can recommend a good rust inhibitor. Cover all bare metal with the inhibitor and permit it to dry for up to two hours, or as recommended in the directions for the product.

  4. 4

    Tape off the area to be repainted with painter's tape. Using painter's tape, cover the surface around the area where you will repaint the surface to protect painted surface of car. Painter's tape is easily removed without leaving a sticky residue.

  5. 5

    Apply rust-resistant auto body primer in three thin coats. Your auto body supplier can recommend a rust-resistant primer. Wait a minimum of 10 minutes -- or longer, if recommended in the instructions for use -- between coats and permit it to cure overnight.

  6. 6

    Lightly sand with 150-grit sandpaper. Hand sand the area. Remove any dust or residue.

  7. 7

    Apply rust-resistant paint. Using a colour matching the rest of the exterior, apply paint in thin coats (at least three coats). Allow the paint to dry for at least two hours between coats and cure over night.

  8. 8

    Wash and wax. Wash your car with car detergent. Rinse. Wax your car with auto wax.

Tips and warnings

  • Where rust has entirely eaten away the metal, you will need to cut away the surface and replace with wire mesh, then apply body filler to even out the surface. Continue with primer and paint, as indicated above. Auto bodyworks garages have other solutions for replacing large surfaces that have rusted away.

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