Stop the Rust- How to Fix Rust Spots on your Car

If you own anything made of metal there’s a chance you’re going to fight rust sometime in your life. If you own a car that’s more than a few years old there’s an even larger chance rust will creep into your life (there’s a pun there). I decided to break down some common misconceptions about rust and give you a broad overview on how to fix those small rust spots on your car.

Rust is essentially cancer for metal and slowly eats it away until there’s nothing life. Rust is a coating of Iron Oxide that forms on unprotected ferrous metals when it mixes with Oxygen. The presence of water or even worse, salt water or acid act as a catalyst and speeds up the process of rusting. Rust never sleeps and on a molecular level (even if you can’t see it), bare metal is rusting or corroding. Your job is to learn how to spot, treat and stop it!

Photo May 20, 8 01 40 AM

The first signs of rust you may see on your car are tiny rust spots or brown water stains (on lighter paint). It can form from something as simple as a small chip in the paint. A small paint chip may take a long time to become a major problem, but if left go it can spread throughout the panel and become a problem (especially in climates with harsh winters). I’d first check around the area that small rust spot is and see if the paint has begun to lift or if the rust has started to creep under the paint. You MUST completely remove or treat the rust to successfully correct the issue. The tiny rust spot you see may be just the tip of the iceberg and it could creep ad hide under the paint. If there seems to be loose paint around a rust spot this means the rust is creeping under the paint and you need to remove the paint in that area until you get to clean metal. Otherwise the rust will continue to spread under the paint even if you do treat just the obvious spots.

Photo May 20, 8 04 30 AM

Photo May 20, 8 04 00 AM

If the paint seems solid around the rust spot or you’ve cleaned off around the spot you can start by using painters tape to mask off around the area you’re treating. At the very least I’d suggest masking off a square about 4″-6″ in each direction to save any damage to the surrounding paint. From there you can use an abrasive of your choice to clean the metal. At the least I would suggest a wire brush or sandpaper to knock any loose rust off the surface. If you like investing in tools the Speed Blast Gravity Feed Blaster is pretty affordable and is great for small jobs like this.

If you still see any hint of rust or if the metal is pitted and there’s a small amount in any crevices I’d normally suggest starting with Rust Encapsulator to stop and seal the rust from spreading. From there you can apply primer or go right to color if you choose. Encapsulator works on both rusty and clean metal, as well as paint, so it’s very versatile and the best all-around rust treatment there is.

If you can get the metal perfectly clean with a blaster or sander you can skip right to applying an etch primer or an epoxy primer over the area. Small rust repairs like these are perfect for using our 2K Aerospray primer to get the quality and durability of a 2K product without the need for a paint gun (or having to clean one!).

Once you have the area cleaned and sealed in primer you can apply a touch up paint to match and to blend in the repair. Of course this method is only for small rust spots and not rust holes or heavily rotted areas. If the rusted area has holes or can be easily poked through with a screwdriver that means the rust has eaten too far into the metal and you really need to cut out the damaged metal and weld in new metal. This of course takes a lot more skill and time or can be taken to a repair shop to be completed.


  1. I have a rust spot on the rear hatch of my jeep cherokee that i would like to order the products needed to fix it

  2. I have grinded the rust off of the rear wheel wells, Bondo patched, used Rustoleum primer, but looks like there’s rust coming thru that?

  3. Hi Alice, it could be that all of the rust wasn’t removed before you added filler and primer. If 100% of the rust isn’t removed it can potentially come back through the repair.

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