Do It Yourself Car Body Repair

How to Repair Rust on Your Auto Body


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If you own a car, then there is a good chance that one day you will need to perform an auto body rust repair. Steel car bodies are susceptible to rust because of the extensive use of salt and sand on roads in areas of the country where it snows in the winter. Although the sand and salt is helpful in melting ice and snow, it can also wreck havoc on your car's metal. In addition, water can be a cause for rust as well if you live in an area with a large amount of precipitation.

If you suspect rust is on your auto body, inspect the area carefully to ascertain if the damage is just on the surface or if it's penetrated through the entire panel. If it is just surface rust, that can be cleaned up by sanding and an epoxy primer.

Tools you will need to sand off rust from your auto body include:

  • 80 to 100-grit Sandpaper
  • Wax Remover
  • Grease Remover
  • Epoxy Primer

Use the coarse sandpaper to scrape off the rust until you see bare metal or painted metal. Then apply a coat of epoxy primer. If the rust has corroded through the metal, then you probably will have to replace the panel.

Tools and other material you will need to perform a panel replacement include:

  • Replacement Panel
  • A Marker or Scribe
  • A Grinder
  • A Plasma Cutter, Die Grinder, Reciprocating Saw or Tin Snips
  • Clamps
  • Welder
  • Pneumatic Grinder
  • Wax Remover
  • Grease Remover
  • Epoxy Primer
  • Block Sander
  • Sealer
  • Top Coat

Fit the replacement panel in place over the original panel, then use the scribe or marker to trace the dimensions of the replacement panel over the original panel. Grind away the existing paint from the replacement panel. About 2-inches of bare metal should surround the area that will be welded. Use the plasma cutter, die grinder, reciprocating saw or tin snips to cut along the mark you made on the original panel.

Remove the damaged section from the original panel, set the replacement panel in its place and assure proper alignment. Clamp the replacement panel into its exact location and then weld the replacement panel to the original panel. Grind the welded area with the pneumatic grinder, clean the area with wax and grease remover, apply the epoxy primer and then finish the bodywork to the surrounding area. Apply primer and block sand then apply the sealer and top coat.

In addition, there are a number of products that can be used to remove or convert rust. The conversion products use a chemical reaction to convert the rust to a coating.

Rust remover products include:

  • PPG DX579, a multi-purpose phosphoric acid based cleaner and pre-paint conditioner.
  • PPG DX533, a phosphoric acid based cleaner, brightener and pre-paint conditioner which is commonly used on aluminum.

Rust conversion products include:

  • SEM Rust-Mort
  • Kleen-Strip Rust Converter
  • PPG Rust Converter
  • AMC 1001 Rust Converter for Aluminum Surfaces
  • AMC 1201 Rust Converter for aluminum and alloy surfaces
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