Tackling Rust Prevention and Removal Part I

We all share a common enemy in the automotive industry: rust. It’s annoying and unavoidable.  Even if it’s hardly noticeable, it’ll always be a loose thread weighing on your mind whenever you’re with that prized ride. Maybe in some mystical far corner of the earth, drivers don’t have to contend with rust removal. But for the rest of us, here are some steps to help tackle decaying sheet metal this winter.

Why Bother?

It’s important to understand why rust removal and prevention is crucial. We’ve all seen it– cars rotted away to nothing, wheel wells growing larger and more jagged. You’ve probably even accidentally pushed your finger straight through a rust spot once or twice in your lifetime. This deterioration doesn’t just happen overnight. Like most things in life it grows over time. It can start off as a small pin hole and before you know it, grow into a nightmarish hole in the side of your car.

The tricky part is that while rust on bare metal is easy to see, just about every car on the planet has a nice layer of paint that hides it away. By the time the paint starts to peel up it can already be too late.

Prevention is Better Than a Cure

When you find yourself facing rust removal two things should cross your mind: How do I repair this? And how can I prevent it from happening again? Like most things, effective prevention is an easier mountain to climb. Preventing rust is all about proper storage and maintenance. Throughout the vehicle’s lifespan it should be regularly cleaned and provided with proper layers of protection to help shield the surface from harsh conditions. That means routine and thorough car washes as well as waxings if you want to avoid aggravating rust removal.

Underneath the car, consider undercoating and alternative layers of protection such as Fluid Film. If the vehicle is a show car and keeping everything in factory condition is important to you, storing it in a nice warm garage where the elements can’t hurt it is essential.

But When You Can’t Forestall the Inevitable…

Unfortunately sometimes, despite even your best efforts, rust cannot be prevented. Everything breaks down eventually, even metal. But if you ask anyone who’s pulled a rusty old car out of a field to repair, they’ll tell you it’s not that bad to tackle rust removal.

If you’re taking on the project this winter, there are a few things you’ll need. The process is a case by case basis, so necessary tools may vary depending on the scope of the project. However, the first step is always the same: getting down to the bare metal. So, break out the abrasives and get sanding. Don’t be shy either. Rust spreads like a cancer and in order to stop it you need to get all of it.

In the case that it’s just minor surface rust, the process is pretty simple. Clean up the area, apply some rust converter, and then touch up the paint.  If the surface is a little rough, don’t be afraid to level the damaged area with some filler.

If the deterioration is worse and you have pinholes, or the metal is just too far gone, you’ll have to break out the big guns. Seeking out professional help is always a wise choice, but rust removal can be a good way to start practicing your body work skills. You’ll need a good cut-off wheel, a MIG or TIG welder, a hammer and dolly set, body filler, and paint. But the most important tool you’re going to need when taking on this type of work is patience. Body work can be a very frustrating and a time-consuming job, especially if you get ahead of yourself. However, if you relax and take your time it can also be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding jobs you’ve ever taken on.

Check back soon, as we’re going to take our rust removal guide a step further. Our follow up post will help you put that rust to rest this winter.

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