Just when you thought you had enough of the car problems, you noticed a patch of rust developing on it. It’s certainly not a pleasant sight to catch, but it is what it is. No matter how invincible your car looks, it will eventually fall prey to its own rust.
Your car won’t have rust problems for the first few years after buying it. As the car ages, its protective layers break off and that’s when the first few signs of rust appear. It usually starts small and catches on like cancer.
Rust is an inevitable phenomenon that significantly decreases the performance and the life of a car. Therefore, it’s wise to take care of rust on a car as soon as it appears. There’s a science involved in the rusting process, but you needn’t be a rocket scientist to understand it. Let us put it in simple words for you.
Science Behind The Rust
Welcome to the Chemistry 101.
In scientific terms, rust is known as iron oxide (Fe2O3), which is the result of the oxidation process. It is a natural process in which the metals containing iron reacts with water and oxygen to produce a layer of a brown molecule, that you call rust.
Almost all cars are made of iron-based materials like steel, making them vulnerable to the oxidation process. The environmental conditions lead to corrosion of the body parts sooner or later. Some car manufacturers have started using non-corrosive metals like aluminum and magnesium. But it is a costly alternative. We will have to live with rust for a while.
Knowing the type of rust as it occurs will help you choose the best course of action to fix this problem. In general, there are three types of rust based on the stage of its formation, viz. surface rust, scale rust and penetrating rust.
Types of Rust
Surface Rust forms on the outermost layer of the car’s exterior. The protective paintwork will break down and cracks will appear. It can be fixed with ease in the early stages of rust formation. But if you let the rust stay, it will quickly escalate into a serious problem.
Scale Rust is the result of unfixed surface rust. The superficial cracks on the car’s surface allow the iron to react with oxygen and moisture. The bubbles on the paintwork are the signs of scale rust. Furthermore, the road salt acts as catalyst in accelerating the oxidation process.
Penetrating Rust is one of the most serious problems that your car can have. Unlike surface and scale rusts, penetrating rust eats up the metal components, which can’t be fixed. The solution is to replace the entire body penetrated by rust.
Where To Look For Rust In Your Car?
Before you get started with fixing the rust problem in your car, you should know where to look for. The entire body of a car is susceptible to oxidation process. Therefore, you should thoroughly inspect your car for any superficial cracks on the exterior.
In addition to the bodywork, take time to get down to the floor and check the under vehicle metal components like exhaust system, suspension, frame rails, wheel wells, and disc brakes. These parts are close to ground, therefore more affected by moisture and dirt.
How To Get Rid Of Rust From Your Car?
Rust can be easily fixed in the early stages of formation. You can get rid of minor or superficial rust at home with few tools and procedures. The age-old maxim “a stitch in time saves nine” is highly relatable in this case.
Tools and Materials Required:
- Personal Protective Equipment (Dust mask, gloves, and protective eye goggles)
- Hand Scraper
- Disc Grinder
- Wire Brush
- Polisher or Car Buffer and Wax
- Sandpaper (Various grades: 40, 80, 320, 600, 1000, 1200, 2000)
- Masking Paper and Painter’s Tape
- Microfiber Cloths
- Prepsol (Prep Solvent)
- Primer and Automotive Touch-up Paint
Removing Surface and Scale Rust
Keep all the required tools and materials organized before you start to remove the rust from your car. Make sure that the workspace is well ventilated. Know where the first-aid kit is, just in case!
Now let’s remove some good ol’ rust from your car.
- Prepare the surface by cleaning it thoroughly to remove any contaminants like dirt, dust, and debris. Let the area dry before you proceed.
- Cover the surrounding body part with masking paper or poly sheeting. Delineate the work area with painter’s tape, leaving enough space for blending and touch-up work.
- Get rid of the blisters, outer cracks or paint chips using a hand scraper tool.
- Remove the surface rust to reveal the metal underneath. Start with a 40-grit sandpaper. Use a 120-grit sandpaper to feather the paint edges. Finally, switch to a 220-grit sandpaper for smoothening the paint edges.
- Clean the area with a dishwashing detergent to remove grease and dirt from the surface. Wipe it off with a clean microfiber cloth and let it dry completely.
- Apply prep solvent to clean the surface before applying the primer and paint.
- Spray epoxy primer as a first coat on the area, followed by a heavier coat of filler primer. Let the coat dry in between.
- Sand the primed area with a wet 1000-grit sandpaper to feather the paint edges. It helps to keep the repair area as flat and smooth as possible. Wash it again and let it dry thoroughly.
- Use lacquer primer to enhance the color holding property of the metal surface. Let it dry and sand it again with a 320-grit sandpaper to prepare the surface for final paint work.
- Spray the appropriate base coat over the repaired area. Start from the lower part and use left-to-right motion, overlapping the layers on each spray. Apply up to 2-3 coats, allowing each layer to dry for 10-15 minutes in between.
- Finally, spray the clear coat to form an extra protective layer to the paint work. Consider this clear coat as the first line of defense against rust in your car.
- Wait for at least 48 hours before washing your car and hand-buffing the surface. Waxing is not recommended for at least 30 days after fixing the rust.
The above-mentioned steps are more effective at the early stages of rust formation on your car. If it penetrates the metal components, it is beyond the capacity of any DIY project. In some cases, you need an entire body replacement. Save yourself from trouble and take your car to the workshop.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Instead of breaking sweat getting rid of rust from your car, the wise thing to do is to prevent it in the first place and get it fixed right away. The most effective way to prevent your car from rusting is to keep it clean.
Contaminants like road grimes, mud, salts, and dirt are the main culprit behind the formation of rusting. Take time to wash your car thoroughly to get rid of those substances, especially from the underside of your car. Schedule a visit to a professional car wash service every once in a while.
Invest in a good quality of car wax to protect the car’s paintwork. It will prevent accumulation of dirt and formation of moisture while enhancing the appearance of your ride.
Follow these tips, and you won’t have to worry about your car falling prey to its own rust.