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Rust removal and rust treatment tips

"A little RUSTic charm"

Rust is metals version of cancer.

Once it gets hold it takes over eating into more and more of the metal. Rust needs Oxygen and moisture to perform its stuff.

When metal is protect by a layer of paint the oxygen cannot penetrate. However a stone chip is all it takes to start off the process.

Initially rust will bubble up the surface of the metal gradually eating deeper and deeper. The earlier it is caught the better it will be.

A rust spot will need to be thoroughly treated.

1) Sand down the rust spot until you get back to bare metal. It is a good precaution to go a little wider than the damaged area just in case it has started to spread further. You may have to cut out the area and weld in a new plate. It is critical that you sand the surface flat as any imperfections will show up when it is painted.

2) Cover the whole area with a rust inhibitor which will act as an undercoat/key for the next stages. There are many treatments on the market but most do a very good job. They should not be viewed as a rust killer and remover though - they merely prevent rust from happening in future.

3) Fill the depression caused by sanding with filler, smooth and sand off. (If the depression is only small you may well get away with a thicker coat of paint or some high build primer.

4) Cover the area with paint as per our stone chip repair guide and then finish with some cutting paste and a clear coat.

Rust is essentially a form of metal cancer and should be dealt with immediately. If allowed to get a hold the repair becomes more costly and difficult.

When the rust is a little more serious, for example on wings and the bottoms of doors your only real option is to cut away the damage metal and weld in a new panel. Doors can usually be replaced cheaply from the breakers yard and repainted which is usually easier than a repair.

 Front wings are also easy to replace and paint. Anything on the rear wing and structural areas with rust will need a new panel welding in to properly sort it.

Be sure to cut the rust thoroughly away and then cover the area with a rust inhibitor to prevent further damage from forming whilst you are working on the area.

Rust prevention is far easier to do than rust repair. The most obvious way to guard against surface rust is to apply a wax coating every 6 months. See our article on wax and polish for more information on this.

In addition to this there are a number of corrosion inhibitors on the market which are typically sprayed under the car and behind panels. TorqueCars would recommend this is applied in a number of thin coats. Special care should be taken to prevent the drain holes in the bottom of the panels from getting clogged up.

It would be a good idea to place a piece of blunt wire through each drain hole to ensure that it is not blocked. The last thing you want to do is to allow water to collect inside the panel or door.

Many leaks can be a sign of rust, usually they are just caused by broken rubber seals but the area should be fully investigated for rust. One frustrating area to get rust in is around the windscreen. We have known cars that have gone in for a windscreen replacement to require extensive work to the frames due to rust caused by ingression of water.

If you require any more information on the treatment of rust or general care of your car please join us in our friendly forum where our resident enthusiasts will be able to provide tips and advice. 

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2 Responses to “How to remove rust and treating rust on cars”

  1. ray says:

    hi my name is ray i have a 69 ford truck that we removed all the paint off the truck and rhere is surface rust everywhere what sould i use i tryed sand paper and it just take off the metal what sould i try

    • Rich says:

      Hi Ray- the first thing you will need is to remove the paint on and surrounding the rust back to the bare metal and rust.Sandpaper is no good, you need what is called ‘wet and dry’ paper or fine grade emery cloth/paper (looks like sandpaper but black and much finer) you should start with a lower grade – look on the rear of the paper -the lower the number- the more coarse it will be, usually a 200 or 400 grade will suffice.next find a small ‘form’ to wrap the paper around ie a small palm size piece of wood is usually good for this.Fill a bucket with clean water and start sanding the rusty area.Regularly washing the paper in water. If treating large areas a mechanical method may be used such as a wire wheel in a drill but be careful.once back to the metal, it will need cleaning with thinners or a suitable spirit cleaner.Then treat with rust oxidising paint or other recommended.Then smooth this down with the next grade of wet and dry with water ie 600-800.

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