The Detroit Post
Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

How Much To Fix Rust Holes

Earl Hamilton
• Thursday, 19 November, 2020
• 7 min read

Rust is caused when the metal that contains iron in your car is exposed to moisture and begins to oxidize. Salt also increases the chemical reaction that leads to oxidation so if you live in a part of the world where roads are salted during the winter months then the metal in your car is at greater risk of faster and more extensive rusting.

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Because keeping your car away from moisture is literally impossible, rust is often an unavoidable concern for drivers to have to deal with. The thing about rust repairs is that they can be unpredictable, and they are hard to categorize in terms of cost.

Your car could have one rust spot at the edge of a side panel or the entire frame could be corroding. Small spots of only a few inches in diameter can be repaired on your own if you feel comfortable doing the work.

You can buy a Bond repair kit at Autosome for only $20 that will allow you to patch a small rust hole. You’ll notice rust forms in flaky layers sometimes, almost like a pastry.

Likewise, if you have spots or holes caused by rust that span an area or are in a large grouping you’ll need a more in-depth solution. A Bond kit can work here but the more rust you have, the less sound your frame is going to be and also the uglier it’s going to look if you patch it extensively.

These larger spots increase the cost proportional to the size or number that you’re experiencing, so while a $20 kit may have fixed a small one, you may be looking at $60 or so for these larger patches, plus labor costs if you go to a mechanic. Major rust repair costs are going to be very high relative to those small ones you can fix yourself.

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Just buying red or black paint is not going to cut it if you want this to look good. You’ll want to sand a slightly larger area than the rust spot and using a finer grit to feather the edges.

The surface needs to be perfectly clean to apply the prep solvent before the paint. Sand the epoxy primer with 1,000 grit sandpaper then wash with water and dry.

Pain with lacquer filler primer, at least two or three coats allowing the recommended drying time between each. Sand the primer with a 300 to 320-grit sandpaper to get rid of any dried and uneven drips.

Spray the base coat of color slowly from left to right in even layers. This may be the hardest part because the clear coat is very thin and will run if you over spray.

This removes a lot of the guesswork and should help your confidence if you’re new to this kind of work. If any steps go wrong, especially that clear coat, this process can take up to three days to complete.

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This is the best way to save time and money on rust -related repairs down the road. Rust proofing is usually sprayed under the car to protect the bottom, which would naturally have the most exposure to water and salt as you drive.

If you’ve ever looked at the underside of a car, you’ll notice the steel components are painted black. 3M, for instance, makes a rubberized undercoat derived from asphalt that not only seals and rust -proofs the car, it also helps deaden road noise.

A second aspect of the permanent rust proofing that many cars will receive is a paraffin-based sealant such as Guard. It’s meant to not drip off the car to leave any streaks on your driveway, and it should be applied once a year.

Get your car waxed before winter arrives as an extra layer of protection. The cost of repairing rust damage can get fairly extensive if it’s been allowed to go for a considerable period of time, but with a little maintenance, it doesn't need to be so extreme.

The cost of repairing rust damage varies a great deal depending on the extent of it. In these cases, the materials needed to fix the spot can be purchased at an automotive supply store for around $30.

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A professional repair technician could charge an additional $20 to $30 for labor to remove this rust spot. Extensive rust damage often requires work to be done by a sheet metal professional who is also proficient at welding.

The cost of welding the new piece of metal into place can add $45 to $250 to the final bill. Consider adding a good coat of wax to your vehicle before winter to prevent this buildup from occurring.

A coat of wax can also be added to appliances, tools, and patio furniture to help protect them from rust damage. Inspect your metal items often, and remove any rust damage as soon as it is discovered in order to prevent it from becoming a major repair later.

Make sure you are getting a quality repair job in order to ensure the money you spend will be well invested. Rust, which is a form of corrosion in which oxygen combines with metal, ultimately causing it to turn into a reddish brown color, will eventually eat away at your car if you ignore it.

Use this estimate as an indicator “per” area. Major repairs, often larger than 12 inches in diameter, can be extremely deep and even through the metal, leaving hollow spots. Extensive damage may require more than just removal such as welding and/or replacing part sections.$200 to $2,000+, greatly depending on the amount of labor required and size of the job. A forum member on this forum thread said he took his car to a local shop and was quoted $300 to sand down the entire hood and repaint it.


The spot, when left alone, can get bigger as time goes on, continuing to spread until it’s successfully stopped. This type of repair is fairly straightforward and will require a sander and a metal conditioner.

For rust jobs that have been ignored for quite some time, then the parts affected will be inspected to determine the best course of action. If you’re looking for an effective long-term repair, then it’s often wise to replace the entire panel for structural and integrity purposes.

While this type of repair won’t be cheap, it can extend the life of your vehicle and can help the car hold its value. Plus, replacing the panel can often prevent the rust from reoccurring as many repairs won’t last a lifetime, especially if you continue to treat the car the same way you had before.

You can also remove rust with a sanding disk on an angle grinder, followed by fixing a body filler, such as Bond. My husband's car had developed a large rust hole in the fender under the gas cap.

It needed to be fixed before the winter, and my husband hadn't had the free time to repair it himself; and I didn't want to pay the $150-200 to have it done by a body shop. I found, under the outer layer of metal, what I thought were additional layers of rusted, chipping metal, was actually dense foam padding.

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On day 2, I again sanded around the area, removing paint around the hole to prepare it to be built up. For rust and paint removal, I used a 60 grit sandpaper.

At this point, I used a metal mesh body patch (bond brand) to fill the hole, replace the missing metal, and give the bond a place to adhere to. Using regular scissors, I cut the mesh to approximately the right shape, and then began fitting it into the hole between the metal and the foam.

Along the bottom, I had to loosen the foam from the metal a bit using a screwdriver. The body patch is self-adhesive, and has a removable backing.

But once I got it in and shaped, it wasn't coming back out, and I decided that I don't care if there's a plastic sticker bit in there. The next step was patching the hole with bond body filler.

It comes with two parts, the body filler putty (gray), and the hardener cream (red), which you mix together, and then apply. The instructions say to use a golf-ball sized amount of putty and an inch and a half of hardener.

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This made application and sanding a little tricky, but I'm pleased with the result. I allowed the patch to cure overnight before beginning the painting process.

Once I was done, I used a 600 grit sandpaper to soften the edge of the primer, and roughen the surrounding paint. Photo by my wonderful husband, who was not at all worried about his wife attempting auto body repair.

I picked up the next shade darker, and it matched when I placed the spray can cap against the bottom of the car, with no sunlight reflection to skew the color. The last step was to apply a clear lacquer coat over the color paint.

The slight buildup on reversing directions leads to drips that have to be sanded off and re-done. My husband's pretty pleased about my little present to him, and I'm proud of myself for figuring it out.

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