The Detroit Post
Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

How To Fix Rust Holes On A Car

James Smith
• Thursday, 17 December, 2020
• 7 min read

At the very least, it’s unsightly and reduces your car ’s value; if left unchecked a rust spot can quickly grow until it causes a structural problem. In many states a car with rust holes in the body won’t pass inspection, regardless where the spots are located or how serious they are.

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For these and other reasons, if your car has body rust it’s best to deal with the problem, because it’s certainly not going to go away on its own. While patching a hole caused by rust is not too difficult, it does take some patience, especially if you want to repaint the vehicle yourself.

If the hole caused by rust is not in a load-bearing area of the car, such as the chassis, it is possible to repair it with glass fiber or body filler. This will make your vehicle look whole again and prevent the rust damage from spreading.

With that in mind, here’s what you’ll need to do to remove a rust spot and patch it up nicely. Body filler kit Breathing mask Electric drill with wire brush or sanding disc attachment Goggles Hammer, ball peen Paint primer Paint Protective goggles Rust resistant primer Note : Chemical rust remove is not necessary, but can help ensure that you’ve gotten all the rust, which is absolutely necessary if you don’t want it to return.

It’s also possible to use this instead of a grinder, if your rust isn’t extensive; follow the manufacturer’s directions. Your parts store can help you find the right paint for your car.

You’ll need an appropriate space to do the work, which ideally means a garage or similar structure, as you won’t want to be outside once the painting begins. The garage should be well lit and well ventilated, and anything that can’t get dirty should be removed, as what’s coming is not a clean process.

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If you don’t own these tools, you can rent them at many large hardware stores. Be sure to get sanding discs (80-grit is best for metal, 120- or 150-grit for removing paint and shaping patches) and a grinding wheel too.

You’re going to be throwing sparks around with your grinder, and you must protect your eyes, so get some safety goggles. This repair involves a lot of airborne dust, which can do serious damage to your lungs.

Even better would be to buy or rent a respirator, because you’ll also be working with quite a few toxic chemicals. Other clothing : Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt are a good idea for this repair, even in hot weather.

You’ll want a good pair of work gloves, which will help you avoid cutting yourself on the sharp edges of the panel and will protect your skin from the not-so-nice chemicals you’ll be working with. If you’ll just be using primer, mask as much as possible, leaving only a few inches to each side of the rust spot.

Even if you’re not planning on priming, it’s best to mask nearby panels because flying sparks can damage your paint. Be sure to cover other parts of the car, including nearby tires, glass, and chrome.

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A heavy drop cloth will do; if all you have is newspaper, use many sheets to form a thick protective layer. Anywhere from 80 down to 150 grit sandpaper works fine for this, preferably with a sanding block or, of course, a mechanical sander.

Don’t stop until you’ve cleared the paint from the entire rust spot, and back far enough that you can be sure you haven’t missed anything. It is absolutely critical that you leave no rust, so don’t stop until you’re down to bare, shiny metal at every edge.

Don’t worry too much about breaking through, even if the rust spot wasn’t all the way through to begin with, as you’ll be fixing that with your patching kit. The protective coating seals the surface against any new moisture which helps prevent further rust.

Apply per the manufacturer's instructions and wait the recommended amount of time before moving on to the next step. If necessary, tap the edges of the hole inwards with a small ball-peen hammer down to the level of the body panel.

Body filler can be purchased as a kit at any auto supply store. Most kits contain a body filler paste, a hardener and a piece of expanded zinc metal, or fiberglass cloth which is used to support the filler while patching the hole.

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Use the plastic applicator that comes with the kit to apply the body filler to the hole. After the patch is dry, you’ll want to sand it down flat with the rest of the body panel.

Go slowly and carefully, as you don’t want to take off too much of the body panel. If you’re applying primer (and you should if you don’t want the rust to return), you’ll want a smooth surface, so use finer-grit sandpaper, down to 240- or so.

Clean the surface well (it must be free of dust), and apply the second layer of primer. After your final (second or third) coat of primer, you can call it quits or move on to the painting step.

Try to use long, even strokes, overlapping slightly but avoiding excessive thickness or drips. Clean and dry the repair and then repeat the process twice more (sanding in between), until you’ve done three coats.

This can be done using a tin snips or an electric drill with a wire brush, flap wheel or sanding disc attached. The protective coating seals the surface against any new moisture which helps prevent further rust.

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Apply per the manufacturer's instructions and wait the recommended amount of time before moving on to the next step. If necessary, tap the edges of the hole inwards with a small ball-peen hammer down to the level of the body panel.

Warning : Glass fiber can irritate the skin, so it is best to wear rubber gloves when using these kits. Use the plastic applicator that comes with the kit to apply the fiberglass resin to the matting.

However, if you deal with rust early, you can stop it from spreading and squeeze a few extra years out of your vehicle. Rust repair isn’t hard, but it is time-consuming (mostly waiting for primer and paint to dry between steps).

Plan to spend about $100 on supplies like sandpaper, primer, masking tape and poly sheeting, a tack rag, polishing compound and touch-up paint and clear coat. Buy automotive touch-up paint in pints and quarts to use in a spray gun, in aerosol cans, or in roller ball applicators.

Pro-tip: Even if you know how to use a spray gun, mixing automotive paint with a reducer to match the temperature and humidity conditions can be mighty tricky. Instead, buy aerosol cans for larger repairs and roller ball applicators to fix scratches.

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Buy 40-, 600- and 1,000-grit sandpaper, a sanding block, grease and wax remover, poly sheeting, painter's tape, a tack rag and a microfiber cloth. Tape the leading edge of poly sheeting a few feet away from the repair so you'll have room to blend the touch-up paint into the good areas.

If the rust has created pits in the metal, you can fill them now with body filler or wait until the epoxy primer dries and apply multiple coats of filler primer. Wipe the area with a lint-free cloth to remove any remaining dust or lint.

Spray the filler primer in heavier coats to cover the entire repair area. Move the can away from the surface slightly and blend it into the surrounding painted area.

Pro-tip: Self-etching epoxy primer provides a strong bond to bare metal, so use it as your first coat. Wait a full hour for the epoxy to dry to the touch (longer if it's humid outside).

Switch to wet 1,000-grit sandpaper to final-sand the entire repair, including the blended areas. Start at the bottom of the repair and apply the color coat in left-to-right rows, overlapping each pass by about one-third.

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Pro-tip: Don't sand the base coat (especially metallic colors) unless you've created sags. Gradually work the clear coat into the surrounding painted areas to achieve a smooth blend line.

Note: This is the hardest part because all clear coats run easily and that will ruin the look of your paint job. If you create a run in the clear coat, you'll have to let it dry for at least 48 hours before attempting to fix it with fine-grit sandpaper and polishing compound.

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