How to remove rust from a car

Rust, which is a form of corrosion in which oxygen combines with metal, ultimately causing it to turn into a reddish brown color, will eventually eat away at your car if you ignore it.

While the deterioration process takes time, it can happen regardless of where you live.

How much does it cost to fix rust on a car?

The cost of fixing rust on a car will greatly depend on the professional you use, the car you drive and the amount of rust that needs to be fixed. Smaller spots, no more than one to three inches in diameter, can cost as little as $50 to $100 to fix, whereas major repairs, larger than 12 inches in diameter, can cost upwards of $200 to more than $2,500.

Size of Job Average Price
Minor rust damage, often as small as one to three inches in diameter. $60 to $150 per 1-3 inches
Intermediate repairs, often several layers deep, can be up to 12 inches in diameter. $150 to $350, depending on the number of rust spots and the size. Use this estimate as an indicator “per” area.
Major repairs, often larger than 12 inches in diameter, can be extremely deep and even through the metal, leaving hollow spots. Extensive damage may require more than just removal such as welding and/or replacing part sections. $200 to $2,000+, greatly depending on the amount of labor required and size of the job.

A forum member on this forum thread said he took his car to a local shop and was quoted $300 to sand down the entire hood and repaint it. When painting is involved, which is often the solution when a panel, such as a car door or hood, has an excessive amount of rust, then it’s best to budget close to $500 per panel.

Fixing rust on a car

One of the simplest rust repairs is surface rust, which, as the name implies, begins at the surface once the paint and coat bond have been broken. The spot, when left alone, can get bigger as time goes on, continuing to spread until it’s successfully stopped. This type of repair is fairly straightforward and will require a sander and a metal conditioner. Sandblasting, if the shop uses this method, can also be an alternative to the sanding and grinding process. After the rust spot is removed and conditioned, a two-part epoxy primer will be used; however, if the spot is deeper than average, then a plastic filler will be used to fill the void.

For rust jobs that have been ignored for quite some time, then the parts affected will be inspected to determine the best course of action. If the rust is severe and it affects the safety of the vehicle, then the shop will want to replace the entire panel and repaint it, but if the part can be salvaged, then the rust, similar to the prior method, will be grinded and filled with a filler.

Tips to know

If you’re looking for an effective long-term repair, then it’s often wise to replace the entire panel for structural and integrity purposes. While this type of repair won’t be cheap, it can extend the life of your vehicle and can help the car hold its value. Plus, replacing the panel can often prevent the rust from reoccurring as many repairs won’t last a lifetime, especially if you continue to treat the car the same way you had before.

How can I save money?

Smaller rust spots are very easy to fix at home. Rust dissolver gel, for instance, simply brushes onto the rust spot and will wash out with a rag. These smaller eight-ounce containers can cost less than $10 to $20. If the rust spots are smaller than a quarter, then it may be wise to do it at home to save some money. You can also remove rust with a sanding disk on an angle grinder, followed by fixing a body filler, such as Bondo.

Prevention is key, and even though it may be too late, it’s always wise to park your car indoors as much as possible to prevent it from the outdoors. Also, if possible, adding a coat of wax before the winter season to prevent the rust from starting.

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If you’ve purchased a new vehicle, you need to follow a few guidelines to prevent rust on your car. Conversely, if you want to buy a used car, make sure you check for rust spots before purchasing any given vehicle that’s up for sale. Cars that are exposed to salts are at risk of acquiring rust very easily. People who reside close to the ocean should also check their vehicles for rust and follow the tips given below to keep their vehicle rust-free.

How to Prevent Rust on Your Car:

  • You need to wash the vehicle at least once a week, particularly during the winters, when salt is used on the roads. Use high quality car care products that won’t damage the car paint or surface and leave the metal exposed to the air. Also use non-abrasive towels when drying the vehicle.
  • If your car has a small scratch on the surface, examine the scratch and fix it at the earliest to prevent rust from setting in. If the scratch is very deep, you will have to sand the surface and use a good quality primer to treat before painting the affected area.
  • The underside of the car should be thoroughly cleaned because dust, debris and other particles get lodged in this area. If you can’t clean the vehicle on your own, use professional car wash facilities to get the job done.
  • It’s best to treat the surface with good quality paint protectants, lubricants and wax. This treatment not only ensures that the car has a smooth and shiny finish, but also prevents corrosion.
  • If you live by the ocean, use a rust prevention spray on your vehicle to prevent oxidation of the metal. Make sure you follow the instructions listed on the spray package before coating the vehicle.
  • If you want to use a rust prevention spray on the car, park the vehicle in a shady and well ventilated area and only start spraying the vehicle once it has cooled down.
  • If you notice even the slightest amount of rust on your vehicle, treat the area promptly so that the rust doesn’t damage the metal and create a hole.
  • It’s also best to cover your vehicle with a car cover if you aren’t parking it in a garage.
  • Apart from protecting the exteriors, you also need to protect the interior of your car. Make sure you vacuum the interior and clean up spills as soon as you can.

If you neglect small spots of rust, the metal will get severely damaged, and you will end up paying a large sum of money to repair the metal. If you follow the tips listed above, you will be able to keep the vehicle free from rust and increase the resale value of your car. Use paint pens to touch up minor scratches and make sure you inspect the vehicle periodically to look for any signs of corrosion.

How to remove rust from a car

There is nothing worse than finding spots of rust on your perfectly painted and waxed car, especially when you take such care to protect it from the elements. It can be especially bad if you live in colder climates or coastal areas where your car is exposed to high levels of salt or other corrosive materials.

Thankfully there are some steps you can take to reduce the impact of those unsightly rust spots, as well as a couple of tricks you should keep in reserve in case the rust gets too bad to handle.

Assess the Situation

Once you spot the rust on your car, the first step to dealing with it is to determine how extensive the rust damage is. Is it something superficial that can be fixed with some elbow grease in an afternoon, or will it require something more in-depth?

A couple of things you should look for include:

  • The size of the rust spot. Is it a small spot, or a large area that is covered in rust?
  • The depth of the rust spot. Does the rust sit on the surface of the metal, or has it penetrated deeper into the metal?
  • The severity of the rust. Is it eating holes in the metal?

Once you’ve figured out how severe the rust spot is, you’ll have a better idea of what it will take to restore your beauty to its former glory.

Small Spots

How to remove rust from a car

Small rust spots are primarily an aesthetic problem, but if left unchecked, they can cause all sorts of issues. A rusty frame, for example, can create a failure point that could become very dangerous in the event of a car accident.

To fix small rust spots, all you really need is some sandpaper, some anti-rust primer and some paint that matches the color of your car. Sand the rust away from the metal and paint the sanded area with the anti-rust primer. Once the primer has dried, touch up the paint, and you’ll be good to go.

Big Spots

How to remove rust from a car

Bigger rust spots, or spots that have eaten through the metal to create holes, require a bit more work. First, determine if the spot can be repaired or if the repair might compromise the integrity of the body. If the former is the case, you’ll need a few extra tools to get the job done, including:

  • Your tools from the small spot repairs: sandpaper, anti-rust primer and touch up paint.
  • A fiberglass repair kit or metal patch
  • A power sander
  • Filler

With bigger or more expansive holes, you will need to use a sander to remove the rust, and either a fiberglass or metal patch to cover the hole created by the rust.

Bigger Spots

How to remove rust from a car

Occasionally, you may find yourself facing a rust spot that can’t be defeated with sandpaper and fiberglass filler. For holes like that, sometimes the best option is to replace the afflicted panel in its entirety.

OEM replacement panels are often available from your car’s manufacturer, but you’ll be replacing the panel with the same material that rusted in the first place. Opting for an aftermarket replacement panel is often the best option, because you can opt for higher quality materials. A higher steel grade will also help prevent rust and corrosion.

As long as cars are made of metal, rust will be a constant problem. All we can do is learn how to prevent it, and when prevention doesn’t work, we can repair it. Keeping your car in a garage can help to mitigate the formation of rust, but where’s the fun in that? Cars are meant to be driven, so just keep your eyes out for rust spots and deal with them accordingly.

Car rust removal and how to keep your prized asset in tip-top shape.

Rust on a car can be a huge problem, warping paint and maiming your prized possession. Apart from being ugly to look at, iron oxide can cause corrosion, weakening the structure of the vehicle. This means that exterior damage is the least of your worries, because it will cost you a lot more to repair the underlying chassis should the ‘infection’ spread that far. Removing rust from your car is, therefore, more than just an aesthetic decision, it is also about improving safety and ensuring that you get the most life out of your vehicle.

How to remove rust from a

The Different Types of Rust and What Causes it

Rust on a vehicle is the result of oxidation, which is when iron (the primary ingredient in car sheet metal) reacts with oxygen and/or water. Moisture from rain, snow, ice and humidity are most often the culprit. Salt from ice/snow treatments and living near the ocean also weakens metal, making it more prone to rust – this is important to keep in mind if you’re using your Jeep Wrangler to ferry around your surfboard, but it also means that even the best SUVs for snow need to be carefully maintained. Neglect of regular maintenance, cleaning, and car care can also lead to rust formation.

Iron is present in many parts of our cars, including the underbody, the metal parts of the wheels, and even the battery casing. Each area is prone to different types of rust but there are three main categories for cars:

Surface Rust

The most superficial type of rust is the aptly named surface rust. It affects the outermost layer of the sheet metal, though it’s not uncommon for a brake disk to rust over, too. Luckily, this is the easiest form of rust to remove from a car. If you take steps to clean the rust from your car at this stage, you will end up spending less money than if you allow it to spread further.

How to remove rust from a car

How to remove rust from a car

Scale Rust

When rust is left unattended, it evolves into scale rust. At this point, the paint will be bubbling noticeably and the more sensitive parts of your vehicle will become exposed as the metal corrodes. If repairs are not started immediately, the damage may well be irreversible and you will have little choice but to have your mechanic or body shop replace entire sections of the body, which will be extremely expensive.

Penetrating Rust

Once the rust on your car starts eating holes in the metal, it’s pretty much over. That’s not to say there aren’t ways to treat penetrating rust, but you will need professional help from a fully furnished body shop to deal with the holes, and the cost will be exorbitant. To avoid this, give your car a once over from time to time. This means getting a look at every angle, from the bottom to the roof, to see if any of the warning signs are there – be especially thorough in inspecting your off-road SUV, as dirt and dust can make it difficult to spot rust. Prevention, in this case, is much better than cure.

How to remove rust from a

Tips to Remove Rust From Your Car

Car rust removal can be a DIY project if it’s small patches of rust that haven’t fully corroded the bodywork yet. If there are just tiny rust spots on the car, then follow these simple tips.

  • Spray a product such as WD-40 onto the rusted area and leave it as per product instructions (usually ten minutes)
  • Scrub away with light abrasive only if the area is without paint or wipe away with a cloth
  • For rust on paintwork, clean the area with detergent, then rinse and dry thoroughly
  • Frame the area with tape and poly sheeting
  • Scrape and sand off the rust with the appropriate tools, but be careful not to scratch the base metal
  • Prime the cleaned area with some epoxy primer and let dry
  • Sand and smooth over the primed area
  • Apply the correct lacquer primer, then paint, and seal it with clear coat

How to Prevent the Formation of Rust on Your Vehicle

Fixing rust on a car once it has advanced to the point of scale or penetrating rust is far more difficult, so your best bet is to look at how to prevent rust on your car instead. Rust-proofing your car through a dealer or specialist can be quite expensive, though; there are some tips and tricks for preventing rust on your car.

Firstly, you should ensure you wash your car regularly. If you live near the sea or in an area prone to heavy precipitation, then you should at least rinse and dry your car once a week. Adding a coat of wax helps to keep the moisture off, which slows the formation of rust. Another preventative measure is WD40, which is a water dispersant – apply it to hinges and joints to avoid moisture buildup.

Of course, the more your vehicle is exposed to the elements, the more quickly rust will form. So, you should definitely keep your car stowed indoors when not in use, or under covered parking if you don’t have a garage. Stop rust on your car from forming rather than spending on repairs.

How to remove rust from a
How to remove rust from a

If you happen to own an automobile (or are planning on buying one and want to learn how to keep it in great shape), this is an important guide for you. Check out this guide before buying a used car, a list of 101 questions to ask the previous owner to make sure that there are no hidden problems or hidden rust!

How To Remove Rust From A Car

It creeps up silently, takes its time developing and before you know it, your beloved vehicle looks aged, run-down and neglected.

Sounds bad, but the bark is usually worse than the bite here. That said the brown parasite can cause serious damage to your car if it gets to the frame components, so you need to get rid of it before it does.

To be able to successfully get rid of rust (and hopefully keep it at bay) it’s imperative to first understand what causes it.

Rust is caused by a chemical reaction of iron and its alloys to oxygen and water.

How to remove rust from a car

Basically, moisture is the main culprit with saltwater and winter road treatments speeding up the whole rusting process.

There are broadly three stages of rust that develops on cars: surface rust, scale and penetration.

However, as you’ll soon discover, getting rid of rust is not half the daunting task it seems to be.

All it takes is a little preparation, patience and a few readily-available tools and materials.

Here’s all you need to know about the different methods of removing rust from your car, starting with basic prep.

Regardless of which method you choose to work with, the following steps are highly advisable for safety purposes and to prevent further damage:

  • Be sure to wear safety glasses, gloves and a dust mask (though a respirator is advisable while using a grinder)
  • Use masking paper to mask clean spots to prevent them from getting dusty

Surface rust mainly occurs when paint breaks down due to mechanical or UV damage.

How to remove rust from a car

It doesn’t usually pose a problem as it is largely dependent on alloy composition and metal thickness.

However, it is highly recommended to correct surface rust as and when it occurs.

Solution 1: Rust Remover

Materials/tools required:

Liquid or aerosol rust remover or rust converter, sandpaper, grease and wax remover soap, rag, primer, spray paint

alt=”krud kutter” width=”147″ height=”300″ />Method:

  1. Spray/brush the remover onto the affected area (as per the directions on the packaging) and let it sit for a few minutes
  2. Wipe off residue with a clean rag
  3. Remove any residual rust with sandpaper
  4. Clean the surface with a grease and wax remover soap
  5. Air dry the surface
  6. Spray a light to medium coat of primer and let it dry for an hour (three such coats should suffice)
  7. Spray about five-six coats of paint within plenty of time in between to prevent drips
  8. Make sure the paint coats are thinner than those of the primer
  9. Spray the clear coat
  10. Wait a minimum of three days before washing and two-six months before waxing your car

Why not check out our guide to the best rust converters around right now?

Solution 2: Pure White Vinegar (distilled)

Materials/tools required:

Distilled pure white vinegar, sandpaper, rag


  1. Use sandpaper to remove any rust in the affected area that is loose
  2. Use a vinegar-soaked rag over the area by holding it down for several minutes (the longer you hold it the more rust it will dissolve)
  3. Repeat the process as many times as required to remove all the rust from your car
  4. Follow steps 6-10 from Solution 1.

The underlying cause behind scale rust is that rust molecules are physically larger than those of iron or steel.

How to remove rust from a car

When you fail to remove rust when it is at surface level, it forms bubbles.

It begins to expand and flake away, thereby exposing base metal that soon begins corroding, causing a serious problem.

Removing this kind of rust demands significantly more effort and skill than surface rust, hence it is advisable not to let the rust develop till this stage at all.

Solution 3: Body Filler

Materials/tools required:

Grinder with sanding wheel, self-etching primer, fiberglass-reinforced body filler, fine grit sandpaper, wax and grease remover, spray paint


  1. Use the grinder to remove surface rust while taking care not to apply too much pressure
  2. Use a grease remover to clean the area
  3. Use the filler for the holes and let it cure completely
  4. Sand the filler with sandpaper then clean with wax and grease remover
  5. Use self-etching primer and leave to dry
  6. Follow steps 7-10 from Solution 1

In case you haven’t dealt with the rust in its scale stage, it will advance to an even more problematic stage called ‘penetration’.

How to remove rust from a car

In this stage, the base metal of the car gradually flakes away leaving holes in its place.

Having a car reach this stage leaves you with two options:

  • replace the entire affected panel
  • cut out the affected parts and weld in ‘patch panels’ in place of them

At this stage the car is highly susceptible to crashes and further damage as its frame has been severely affected.

In this case, your best bet would be consulting a professional and getting it repaired at a repair facility.

Arguably the best way to deal with rust is to prevent it from accumulating on your car altogether.

Prevention is indeed better than cure, especially when you’ve invested thousands of dollars in your car and the alternative is spending hundreds more on ensuring it looks brand-new for years.

Hence, these are the most effective ways of preventing rust from developing on your car:

  • Wash your car regularly and thoroughly
  • Keep the underside clean from dirt, road grime and salts as these lead to corrosion
  • Check the drain holes that are present along the bottom of doors and rocker panels (that allow rainwater to flow out) regularly
  • Use a pipe cleaner to thoroughly clean these holes
  • Use multiple coats of wax, especially during winter months to protect paint, road grime and water
  • Don’t let snow and chemicals accumulate while driving on snowy or salty roads
  • Use rust prevention paint


Hopefully that’s been a useful overview and you’re now well equipped to remove rust from a car should the need arise.

Have you had to de-rust a car before? How did you do it? And are there any suggestions not included in our guide that you’d recommend?

Fortunately, rust doesn’t have to be a permanent problem. You can eliminate this unwelcome addition to your vehicle quickly and inexpensively.

  • Prepare yourself and your workspace – Wear proper safety gear including rubber gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask. Protect the portions of the car you’re not working on with painter’s tarp and tape. Equip yourself with a sanding wheel, sandpaper and a small amount of rust acid compound.
  • Remove the outer layer – Use the sanding wheel on the outermost layer of rust because it will be the toughest to remove. Take extra caution only to remove the rust and not the metal.
  • Remove the small areas – Use sandpaper to concentrate on the rusted areas that are too delicate to handle with a sanding wheel.
  • Apply rust acid compound – Wipe sanded area clean and apply a thin layer of the mixture. Follow the instructions on the container to ensure that the compound is not left on the exposed metal too long.
  • Reprime and repaint immediately – You should not wait longer than 24 hours after removing rust to reprime and repaint the affected area.

Although rust may not seem like a major problem in the beginning, it’s much easier to deal with when it hasn’t spread and caused damage to your car’s functionality. Whether you’re looking to sell your vehicle soon or keep it for years to come, removing rust will increase the appearance and safety of your car immensely.

Solution: The only way to remove scale is to use a wire brush to go through the rust while removing all the roughness with a grinding wheel. You will also need sandpaper to obtain a smooth surface. Finally, you can finish off the repair by applying a minimum of two coats of paint.

Is it worth restoring a rusty car?

It is the fantasy of many a restorer to find a car on the scrap yard and lovingly restore it but rust is the most difficult and costly damage to a car to restore. Areas of rust must be cut out and removed before repair panels can be made and installed. This can really cost.

What is the best rust remover for cars?

Best rust remover in 2021

  • Best rust remover overall. Rust 911 Ultra Concentrate. $29 at Amazon.
  • Best rust remover for dirty parts. Evapo-Rust. $10 at Amazon.
  • Best all-purpose rust remover. Metal Rescue.
  • Best value-priced, pre-mixed rust remover. WD-40 Rust Remover Soak.
  • Best acid-based rust remover. POR-15 Rust Remover.

What do you coat metal with after removing rust?

After all of the rust has been dissolved and removed, make sure to protect your item using a finishing wax, or paint it with a rust-free primer and paint.

Can a rusted car frame be fixed?

If you’re willing to do the work yourself, you can repair a rusty truck frame for a small fraction of the cost. While it will require a great deal of time and elbow grease, it’s actually not all that complicated of a process.

Does Coca-Cola remove rust from cars?

Coca-Cola is carbonated, which allows it to dissolve with metal oxides and break up rust on a variety of metals and alloys. Phosphoric acid also gives it rust-busting power, while citric acid makes it an effective stain remover.

What is the fastest way to remove rust from metal?

Simply soak the rusty metal object in white vinegar for a couple of hours and then just wipe to remove the rust. If the object is too large, simply pour white vinegar evenly over the surface of the object and give it some time to settle.

If your car has been affected by rust, and you plan to get rid of it then it is advisable to choose a calm, overcast day and block out the full day to fix the rust spots present on different spots on the car. Read below to understand the step-by-step guide to follow in order to remove the rust that affects your car.

Tips to Remove rust from your Car

  • Gather all the supplies
    To begin with the process, it is important that you first gather all the supplies needed in one place. Some of the important supplies include:
  • Sandpaper, a sanding block, grease and wax remover, poly sheeting, painter’s tape, a tack rag, and a microfiber cloth.
  • Buy equal amounts of both base coat and clear coat.
  • Epoxy self-etching primer to bite into the bare metal and a lacquer primer to hold the paint.
  • Scrap off the affected area
    Now for the process of scraping off the spots affected by rust, begin by taping the leading edge of poly sheeting a few feet away from the area to be repaired, so that you also have room to blend the touch-up paint into the non-affected areas.
  • Remove the rust
    Crack off any blistered pint with a scraper and then followed by that use sandpaper and sand through the rust spots down to the bare metal. Also, enlarge the sanded area in order to make space for feathering the edges. Complete the feathering process and use a tack rag to remove particles from the unmasked area.
  • Clean with detergent
    If it seems that the rust has created pits in the metal, then you bring into action the process of filling these pits with a body filler or you can choose to wait until the epoxy primer dries out and then apply multiple coats of filler primer. After that, you can clean the entire unmasked area with a detergent and then followed by that clean rinse water and let it dry.
  • Apply epoxy primer, then Filler Primer
    Spray the filler primer in good amounts of coats and cover the entire repair area. You can then move away from the surface slightly and start blending it into the surrounding painted area. Also, it is recommended to use self-etching epoxy primer as the first coat as it provides a strong bond to bare metal.
  • Sand the Primer
    Starting with wet sandpaper, smooth the primer and feather the edges. Wash with clear water and let it dry. Next, wipe the dried epoxy primer with a lint-free cloth and apply two to three heavier coats of lacquer filler primer, allowing drying time between each coat.
  • Apply the Colored Base Coat
    Now while holding the spray can about 12 inches away from the surface, spray the repaired area. You can begin at the bottom of the repair and apply the color coat in left-to-right rows while overlapping each pass by about one-third. For building the color slowly and gradually, you will need to take up two to three coats at an interval of 10-15 minutes. Allow the base coat to dry, until it’s dry to the touch for at least 60 minutes.
  • Spray on the clear coat
    Apply numerous coats of clear coat, while allowing the recommended drying time between coats and gradually work the clear coat into the surrounding painted areas to achieve a smooth blend line. Lastly, let it dry for several hours before driving the vehicle and also at least 48 hours before buffing.
  • Buff the repair
    Lastly, use an old cotton cloth and a buffing compound, to hand-buff the repaired area.

These are some of the top tips that you need to undertake in order to remove the rust that affects your vehicle.

If you find the above information useful then you may also like this blog Pros & Cons of Car Waxing