How to Remove Rust Spots from a Car Body

27 August 2015
 Categories: , Blog


If you have purchased an older car that has rusted spots near the door hinges, learn how to remove them with the following instructions. Add fresh paint that matches the original color when you have finished and the vehicle will have an attractive appearance and will look newer than it previously did. 


  • water hose
  • automotive detergent
  • bucket
  • sponge
  • scrub brush with soft bristles
  • towel
  • electric sander
  • fine- and low-grit sandpaper
  • emery cloth
  • tack cloth
  • painter's tape
  • tarp
  • dust mask
  • automotive spray primer
  • automotive spray paint
  • clear coat compound
  • buffing mitt
  • lint-free cloth

Remove Dirt and Loose Rust from the Car's Body

Add a small amount of automotive detergent to a bucket of warm water to make a cleaning solution. Apply the soapy water to the car's body with a sponge. Use a scrub brush with soft bristles to loosen dirt and rust spots that are flaking off. Press down on the brush as you move it over the car's body. Rinse the car off well with a water hose. Dry the car's body with a towel.

Sand the Rusted Portions

Attach a piece of low-grit sandpaper to an electric sander before removing the rust spots. Move the sander over each of them while pressing down on the back of the sander. Once the rust is no longer visible, attach a piece of paper with a fine grit to the tool and move it over the same areas on the car.

If there is any rust that is hard to reach because it is located near the edge of the door, open the car's door and remove them with an emery cloth. An emery cloth is a flexible sanding tool that has fabric on one side of it and sandpaper on the other side. It fits into small areas and works just as well as other sanding equipment. Move the cloth back and forth to remove the damaged sections. Once the rust has been eliminated, wipe the car's body off with a tack cloth to eliminate sanding dust that is on its surface.

Add Spray Primer and Paint

Cover up trim around the door's frame with a few pieces of painter's tape before closing the door. Lay a drop cloth or tarp underneath the door to catch excess primer and paint. If you are applying the primer and paint in a garage, cover your mouth with a dust mask so that you do not breathe in fumes from each product because they could irritate your throat. Apply an even coat of automotive primer to the sanded sections as you stand back a couple feet from the vehicle. If you are not too close to the vehicle, you will not have to worry about the primer dripping.

Wait a couple hours for the primer to dry. Add a coat of automotive paint that matches the original color of the car over the areas that had primer applied to them. Use the same steps that you used when applying the primer. Wait a few hours for the paint to dry. After this occurs, add a second coat of paint if the first coat isn't as dark as the rest of the car. Wait for the paint to dry completely before removing the painter's tape. 

Apply Clear Compound

Apply a small amount of clear compound to a buffing mitt. Put the mitt on and press it down on the repaired sections on the car's body as you move it around in small circles. The compound will blend the fresh paint so that it matches well with the rest of the car's body. After the compound has a foggy appearance, wipe it off with a lint free cloth. The car's body will look much better and nobody will be able to tell that damage occurred in the past. Remove surface dirt from the car's body several times a year to prevent new rust from forming.

For further help, find an auto body shop in your area.