How To Repair Rust On Your Car (2020)

Updated October, 2020
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Rust on your car is never good, however different levels of rust call for different levels of concern. Minor rust can be fixed at home by sanding it away and resealing. Severe rust must be taken to a mechanic or (in extreme cases) you may just need to buy a new car. If you're unsure, consult a professional to make sure your car is safe.

Different types of rust damage

Rust occurs when the iron in your car's steel frame oxidizes. The metal coming into contact with moisture or salt can speed up this process. There are 3 types of rust damage to a car: minor, moderate, and severe.

Minor Damage: Surface Rust

Minor rust damage is normally just a small rust hole on the body of your car that spans a few inches or something similar. Minor damage is easy to fix at home. Instructions can be found further down in this article.

Moderate Damage: Scale Rust

Moderate damage is a rust spot that is larger than minor damage and has layers to it, like an onion. While at home repair can be done, the bigger the hole you fix, the less stable the fix will be.

Severe Damage: Penetrating Rust

For severe rust damage you're looking at something like rust on your frame or holes in your floorboard. The only way to fix this rust is by replacing the panels or welding new metal onto the frame, which is extremely costly.

How to repair minor vehicle rust on your own

Repairing minor rust on your vehicle is a relatively easy job that can be done in as little as an hour or two. It should only cost you between $20-$100 depending on what tools you need to buy. Here is a simple run down on how to fix surface rust.

  • Prep and clean the area you're going to be cleaning.
  • Sand with sandpaper or a grinder until you see metal without any rust.
  • Once you have removed the rust, seal it with a primer and paint base layer. Once dried, paint it to match your car.

Severe rust damage—better to repair or get a new car?

Rust can become expensive fast. Depending on the part of the car that is rusted out you could pay between $400-$2500. Sometimes fixing the rust could cost more than the car is worth. When deciding whether to get a new car or fix your old one you should take these things into account.

Repair

Pros:

  • Less expensive than buying a new car.
  • Can protect against future rust.

Cons:

  • Time consuming. This process can take hours
  • While it is less expensive than a new car, it can cost more than your car is worth

Buy a new car

Pros:

  • No worries about rust or imperfections
  • Quick and simple.

Cons:

  • New cars are expensive
  • This car can also eventually rust and break down.

Don't forget to insure your new ride

When it comes to car insurance, there are several factors to consider beyond monthly cost. A policy that covers you when you need it, has a low deductible, and offers several discounts can be hard to find - which is why we've done the work for you.

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