How to Fix Small Rust Spots on Cars – Guide

Without mincing words, removing car rust spots will give your car a fine appearance while preserving its integrity. Sadly, many car owners tend to ignore this issue, until its spreads, causing them to spend more money fixing it, than they would, if they had tackled the issue from the very onset. The truth is, these rust spots are not only an eyesore, but can quickly spread and turn your sheet metal into Swiss cheese. Amazingly, you can deal with small rust spots early and squeeze some extra years out of your car.

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How to fix rust spots on your car

There is no doubt that you can lower the risks of having small rust spots on your car, by implementing a few preventive measures. You can do this by either applying paint protection film in areas that are prone to rust or by frequently getting rid of road salts and waxing your car regularly. And even when you do all these, you are still going to get rust spots every now and then.
Interestingly, repairing small rust spots isn’t difficult. However, it can be time-consuming, this is because you have to wait for primer and paint to dry off in between steps. Also, you’ll have to spend around $100 to get supplies.

Cost of getting a professional rust repair

The professional cost for repairing rust on cars varies a great deal and depends on the extent of damages. The truth is, the labor and technical know-how usually make up a significant portion of the repair bill charged by a professional. To put things simply, it could cost anywhere from $300-$2000 to have your car fully fixed, depending on the type of damages caused by rust. In the remainder of this post we will be showing you how you can remove rust spots from your vehicle.

DIY rust repair tools

Fixing surface rust damages to your car can take as little as 20 minutes. Notwithstanding, scale rust and penetrating rust can take a much longer time to fix. So, to save yourself time and complete this job quickly, here are some DIY tools you’ll need to get the job done.

  • Sandpaper
  • Primmer
  • Masking tape and poly sheeting
  • Clearcoat
  • Polishing compound and touch up paint
  • A tack rag

Now that you have all the tools needed to fix small rust spots on your car, follow these steps to do a fantastic job you’ll be proud of.

7 Steps To Remove Small Rust Spots On Your Car

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1. Step one: Start by masking off the repair area

Masking off the repair area will help will protect your vehicle from paint overspray and poly sheeting. If you’re looking to spray the hood, we suggest you spray poly sheeting over the engine and fenders. For door areas, you’ll need to cut poly sheeting that will nicely fit door openings and tape it to the jamb. Have it at the back of your mind that the final masking should have an allowance that is a foot or two away from the repair areas, this way you can nicely blend the touch-up paint into good areas.

2. Step two: Eliminate rust

Having masked off the repair area, you can now proceed to remove rust from the repair areas. Simply start by cranking off any blistered paint using a scraper. Afterward, proceed to sand the rust area with a 40-grit sandpaper and work your way all through the affected region. That’s not all, you’ll need to expand the sanded area so you can have more space to the feather and edges. For a flawless job, you should feather the edges using a 120-grit sandpaper and complete the feathering using a 220 -grit sandpaper. Now, use a tack rag to get rid of particles from the unmasked area. In a situation where the rust has created pits in the metal, quickly fill the pits using body filler or you can wait and let the epoxy filler dry off. This way, you can add multiple coats of filler primer to fill the pits.

3. Step three: Clean the unmasked area using a detergent

The next thing to do after eliminating rust is to clean the unmasked area using detergent. You can easily do this with grease-cutting dish detergent, and rinse with clean water. Allow it to dry. For an excellent job, proceed to wipe the area using lint-free cloth to eliminate any remaining dust or lint. Having done this, proceed to apply the paint manufacturer’s prep solvent.

4. Step four: Prime the surface of the repair area

Doing this is easy. Simply apply the epoxy primer, followed by the filler primmer. To do a superb job, you’ll want to spray the filler primmer in heavier coats, this way, you can cover the entire repair area. Now, try to move the can a little away from the surface area and blend it nicely into the surrounding painted area.

The good thing about using a self-etching epoxy primer is that it provides a solid bond to bare metal, so it’s important that you use it as your first coat. To get this right, you’ll need to spray two to three medium coats and wait for the recommended time (15 minutes) in between coats. It’s highly recommended to wait one full hour for the epoxy to dry fully. Having waited an hour, proceed to sand the epoxy primer using a wet 1000-grit sandpaper, afterward, wash with clean water and allow to dry.

Using a lint free cloth, wipe off the dried epoxy primer and proceed to apply two or more heavier coats of lacquer filler primer and allow for the stipulated drying times between each coats. Now, let the lacquer primer dry to a point where you can touch it, before sanding.

5. Step five: Sanding the primer

This step comes immediately after priming the surface of the repair area. Start the process by sanding the entire repair area using a 320-grit sandpaper. Using a wet 600-grit sandpaper, smoothen the primer and feather the edges.

For a final touch up, use a wet 1000-grit sandpaper to sand the entire repair area all the way to the blended areas.

6. Step 6: Spray repair area using a base coat

To apply a base coat, we suggest you start at the bottom of the repair and nicely work the color coat from left to the right rows. To get this spot on, please endeavor to slowly apply the color to repair areas in two or three coats and allow 10 to 15 minutes between each coat. Remember, the slower you apply the color coat, the better it will look under the clear coat. After application, let it dry for at least 60 minutes

7. Step seven: Spraying the clear coat

This is simple and wouldn’t take too much time. Start by applying several coats of clear coat and allow it to dry as recommended. To achieve a smooth blend line, you’ll want to nicely work the clear coat into the surrounding painted areas. This is usually the tricky part as clear coats are known to run freely and can ruin your paint job. To this end, we suggest you take a few spins by practicing spraying on a piece of cardboard, this will help you get a feel of the nozzle and speed of application.

Now, wipe the painted area one more time using a tack rag. Having done this, proceed to apply the first layer of clear coats so that it looks wet. Please allow the clear coat to dry fully before driving and wait another 48 hours before buffing. If you intend to wax, please wait for at least 30 days.

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Can I remove rusk marks with the same method on a motorbike?

Yes, you can use a similar method to remove rust on your motorbike on with the exception of the panel material. Metal panels naturally rust when the paint has been breached, exposing the bare metal which causes rust. That said, many motorbike panels are now made with fiberglass and carbon fiber paneling. That said, removing rust from vintage motorbikes due to paint bubbling or paint oxidization.



Fixing small rust spots is easy, the best part is that you can do it all by yourself. To prevent surface rust spots from expanding and causing further damages to your vehicle, we suggest you tackle it head-on and you can start by following all the detailed steps listed in this post. Please let us know if this post was helpful by leaving a comment.

Last update on 2024-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API