How to Prevent Automotive Rust

Automotive Rust Repair Kits

There are a few options to consider if your vehicle already has rust. If the rust damage is extensive, you'll probably need to bring your car to a professional repair shop to replace that section of your vehicle. Treating extensive damage yourself may not be enough to make your vehicle safe to operate.

You can, however, repair minor rust damage yourself. There are a couple of different methods you can try. But before you tackle a rust repair job you should make sure you have the proper safety equipment. You should wear rubber gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask before you begin.


If you plan to scrape away rust physically, you'll need the following tools:

  • Grinder or drill with sander drill bits
  • Sanding block
  • Sand paper
  • Rivet gun and rivets
  • Hammer
  • Tinsnips
  • Body filler
  • Spreaders
  • Glazing and spot putty
  • Masking tape
  • Primer paint
  • Rust neutralizer
  • Screen wire

If the damage is minor, you may only need to sand the rust away and use some primer and touch-up paint to take care of the problem. But if rust has eaten a hole through part of your car, you'll need to grind the affected metal away and use body filler to repair the hole. Use screen wire inserted into the hole to serve as a foundation and spread body filler over the damaged area. Once it hardens, you can sand it down and apply primer and paint.

Alternatively, you can use a chemical called a rust converter. Rust converters react with iron oxide to turn it into iron tannate. Unlike iron oxide, iron tannate is stable and won't corrode the metal in your car. Most rust converters also contain a polymer that provides a protective primer over the area.

It's important to remove all the rust as you repair your car. If you miss a spot, it will continue to corrode the metal in your vehicle.

Remember to examine your car regularly for signs of rust damage. If you catch it early, repairs tend to be relatively simple and less expensive. But if you let the rust go unchecked, you may face expensive and lengthy repairs in the future.

Learn more about automotive care by following the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles
  • CarJunky. "Car Rust Repair as Easy as Sand, Scrap and Paint." June 14, 2006. (Nov. 14, 2009)
  • Corrosion Doctors. "Rust Prevention Tips." (Nov. 14, 2009)
  • Cortec Corporation. "The ABC's of Controlling Your Car's Rust." (Nov. 14, 2009)
  • Instructables. "How to prevent rust on your car." 2009. (Nov. 14, 2009)
  • Maillie, David. "Stop car rust and prevent rust from ruining your car." 2009. (Nov. 14, 2009)
  • Ray, Crystal. "How to Prevent and Repair Rust Spots on Your Car." Associated Content. June 22, 2006. (Nov. 14, 2009)
  • Simkins, Brian. "Repair Rusted Spots on Your Car." 2007. (Nov. 16, 2009)
  • Skupeika, Markus. "Various Methods for Car Rust Prevention." Buzzle. Aug. 28, 2008. (Nov. 14, 2009)
  • The Rust Store. "Rust Prevention for Cars and Trucks (a practical guide for prevention)." 2009. (Nov. 14, 2009)
  • White, Mike. "How to Prevent Rust on Your Car." Associated Content. June 21, 2006. (Nov. 14, 2009)