How to Fix Minor Rust Spots on Your Car

If you find a minor rust spot on your car, use this step-by-step guide to fix the small rust spots before they become a bigger problem.
Written by Brenna Swanston
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
If you find any rust spots on your car, make sure to take care of them quickly before the rust spreads too much or creates rust holes.
Rust is like one of those monsters in a horror movie—you think it's gone but then it comes back again ... and again ... and again! The best way to
deal with rust is prevention
. But, if rust has appeared on your car despite your best efforts, it is important to remove it quickly and completely. If left unchecked, small rust spots will turn into rust holes and have your car's exterior looking like Swiss cheese in no time.
Here's how to perform minor rust repair on your vehicle, presented by
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How to fix small rust spots on your car

1. Gather materials

Before tending to the repair area, gather these materials:
  • A sponge
  • Car wash detergent
  • 50-grit sandpaper
  • Rust inhibitor
  • Automobile primer
  • Car paint

2. Examine the rusting area

First, confirm that the rust damage is indeed minor. If the rust has eaten a hole (even a small one) through your car's exterior, there's a good chance it's also started to corrode the underlying structural components of your vehicle.
If the rust is more extensive than you anticipated, consider taking it to a professional so they can determine the extent of the damage and whether or not it constitutes a simple fix.

3. Wash

Use a sponge to clean the entire area with a mild detergent. Rinse with water and dry completely with a microfiber towel.

4. Sand

Apply painter's tape to frame the affected area. Use 50-grit sandpaper to sand off the rust (and paint) until the underlying bare metal is exposed. This step may require several strips of sandpaper.

5. Apply rust inhibitor

To prevent more rust from forming on your car's surface, spray the exposed metal surface with a rust inhibitor. Rust inhibitors can be found online or at your local hardware store. Once you’ve applied the rust inhibitor, let the area air dry.

6. Apply primer

Spray any brand of automobile-specific primer onto the affected area until it is evenly covered. Let it air dry for at least 30 minutes.

7. Apply paint

If you don’t know your vehicle's exact paint color, the paint color code is usually located inside the glove box on the driver’s side door jamb under the driver’s seat or under the hood. Once you've determined your car's color, you can order paint online or through your vehicle's manufacturer.
Spray the base coat on the repair area and then let it air dry for about an hour. Apply additional coats as-needed.

8. Apply the clear coat

Spray the clear coat around the area and let it air dry until the surface is shiny and smooth. Remove the painter’s tape—and voila!
Your car’s surface should look sparkling clean, with no signs of surface rust. Remember, avoid washing your car for a week to let your new paint job cure.
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