Some types of auto maintenance, like a car radiator replacement, should be left to the professionals. If your paint job has seen better days, however, try these X DIY rust removal steps before heading to your local body shop.
Protect Your Paint
First, tape off the rusty area with paint-safe adhesive. This protects the surface surrounding the rusted section from damage.
Apply Rust Remover
Start with a commercially-available rust removal solution and apply according to manufacturer instructions. Usually, these formulas are sprayed or brushed onto the offending rust spot and left to sit for a specified time period, then wiped clean. Make sure to use gloves and goggles when handling these products, since they often contain toxic chemicals.
Sand and Clean the Area
Once you’ve removed any residue, sand away remaining rust spots and clean the area with a soap that is capable of removing grease and wax. High-grit sandpaper is often sufficient, but serious rust may require help from a metal grinding wheel or stiff wire brush. Before moving on to the next step, allow your car to air dry (it’s best to tackle this project on a day with mild weather). You can also wipe the area down with vinegar to smooth it out before applying primer.
Prime and Paint the Area
Spray primer is your best bet for repainting a rusty spot on your car. Apply the product according to package directions and allow it to air dry between each coat. Practice with the spray first so you don’t accidentally use more than you need and affect surrounding areas of your paint job. After three coats of primer, it’s time to paint. Spray your base coat and allow it to dry, then repeat this step until the affected area matches the rest of your vehicle. Follow with a clear coat. Avoid washing your car for three days after this step, and hold off on waxing for up to six months.
Seek Professional Help
An internet search is appropriate for questions like how to clean your windshield, but some repairs require mechanic service. If rust has penetrated your vehicle’s paint and caused bubbling, corrosion of the underlying metal or even holes, you’ll likely need to have the entire affected panel replaced. Avoid trying to make this upgrade at home, since a rust problem can render your car unsafe to drive.
Prevent Future Rust
A bit of care can keep rust away from your vehicle. Wash your car regularly to wash away the dust, dirt, road salt and debris that accumulate on your paint. Make sure to rinse the underside of your car completely and allow the vehicle to air dry. When you do notice surface rust, correct it right away to prevent it from spreading to your car’s frame and other critical components. You can also apply a rust inhabitant to keep a small, inconspicuous area of rust from becoming larger.
You might think rust removal is a less pressing concern than how to replace brake pads. However, rust is more than a cosmetic concern. Left untreated, it can eventually spread to the frame of your vehicle and affect its function and durability.