How to Remove Rust from Your Car? (Complete Guide)

Body rust will impair the look, quality, and value of your vehicle. If you wonder how to remove rust from your car, I will give you a few ideas on what to do before beginning with the procedure. At first, you should identify the type of rust appearing on the car body. Then, try to purchase adequate tools to finish such a job successfully.

The crucial thing is to start with removing as soon as you notice the first surface rust spots and never allow rust to take over your car. On the other hand, don’t give up the vehicle even though the development of rust is in an advanced stage. Let’s do it together!

Types of Car Rust

Once it occurs, rust won’t disappear. It will do the damage and quickly progress when left untreated. There are three standard types of rust:

1. Surface rust

This type of rust affects just the top layer of the car body. In the beginning, you will notice abrasions in the protective coating. If you treat them right away, you will prevent further spreading in the shortest possible time.

There is a secret on how to avoid this type of corrosion. Always keep a small bottle of automotive paint matching the color of your car in the garage. Treat minor scratches as soon as you notice their appearance.

2. Scale rust

When you leave surface rust untreated, chemical reactions will cause the damage of the metal. Plus, things like road salts will speed up the process of corrosion. In the end, scale rust will affect the metal and lead to the appearance of holes in it.

3. Penetrating rust

It is the final phase of corrosion. As a result, you will get holes in the car body, and there is no possibility of repairing it. The only solution is the replacement of body panels.

Necessary Tools for Surface Rust Repair

Be prepared that you need at least 20 to 30 minutes to get rid of surface rust, depending on the size of the affected area. Unfortunately, you will need much more time to solve the problem with the scale rust.

Before starting the process, you should prepare adequate tools:

  • Primer
  • Automotive paint matching the color of your car
  • Wax and grease remover
  • Rust remover
  • Touch-up paint pens
  • Plastic sheeting
  • 180 to 400-grit sandpaper (or even finer)
  • Sander
  • Sanding discs
  • Metal grinder
  • Protective Eyewear
  • Dust Mask
  • Gloves
  • Masking tape
  • Wire brush
  • Microfiber cloth

Keep in mind that you may not need all the tools listed. Whether all of them are necessary for the job you need to finish will depend on the size of the damage.

How to Remove Rust from Your Car?

1. Surface rust

Safety precautions – Since you will work with a sander to solve the problem, you need to use safety glasses, gloves, and a dust mask to protect yourself.

Mask the car – To avoid getting the dusty car, you should protect parts you won’t work on by covering them with masking paper and the tape. At the same time, you will define your working area that way. Don’t use newspaper since spray may leak through it and leave stains in the car body.

Remove the old paint – To clean the area, you should remove old paint around the rust with a sander. Start with 180-grit sandpaper and work your way up to finer one.

After the surface becomes smooth, you can start removing rust buildups with a metal grinding wheel. Then, remove the remained microscopic particles of rust by applying rust removing acid. One of the best options is phosphoric acid.

Prepare the spot for priming – Fill a primer with the auto spray matching the color of your vehicle. After wiping the area with paint thinner, you should apply a thin coat of the primer. The best option is to spray three coats, but make sure to wait a few minutes between two applications. Then, let the fresh coat dry overnight.

Sand the surface – Use wet, 400-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface and let the paint bonds correctly. Finish this step by washing the painted area with a soap dissolved in water.

Spray the paint – Spray one thin coat of paint at a time. Wait for a few minutes between two applications to avoid leaking. How many layers you need will depend on the damaged area, type of paint, and your taste. Keep spraying until achieving a beautiful finish. Let the paint dry at least 24 hours and then remove the tape.

Buff the edges – Try to remove any borders between the new and old paint as much as possible. Finally, apply a clear coat to the surface and let it cure for 48 hours.

Wash and polish the vehicle and go driving!

2. Scale rust

The process is slightly different when you need to filler patches. Let’s take a closer look.

Grind rust – When you need to solve rust spots causing pitting or holes, you need to grind rust with a grinder down to the metal. Keep in mind that the process of corrosion will continue underneath the paint if you miss even a speck of rust.

Non-rusting filler – Use it to cover every hole and over the former rust spot. If the hole is too big, you will need to improvise. Fix the thin flat object (cut-up beer can or thin sheet of hard plastic) over the crack as some kind of filler patch.

Level the surface – Use sandpaper to make the surface between the car body and patch smooth. Always start grinding with low grit sandpaper and finish the process with the finest one.

New coating – Apply a fresh layer over repaired rust spot, add a few thin coats of primer, and finish with the painting after the surface of the area is entirely dry. That’s it!


If the corrosion has gripped the metal too much, you may need complete sandblasting. It is a powerful way to remove paint from the entire car body of your vehicle and prepare the metal surface for a new coating. In some cases, replacing the body panel is a more comfortable option. Plus, the result will be more eye-catching. Whatever you decide, I wish you luck!