If you have an older car, you may have small spots on the body that have started to rust. Instead of having a professional remove it, you may decide you would like to try getting rid of the rust yourself. If so, use the following three-step guide.
Before You Begin
Before you begin your project, test the extent of rust on the car's body. If the oxidation has eaten away to the back of the metal, you will need to have an auto body repair specialist do the job for you. These steps will only work if you have a base on which to work.
To test the depth of the rust, you will need a small finishing nail. In the center of the rusted area, gently press the nail into the metal. If it goes straight through without a lot of pressure, the rust damage is extensive. If not, proceed with the first step.
Step 1: Remove The Paint
The first step involves removing the paint covering the rust, as well as two inches around the area. This will give you more area to work. Plus, it will make the application of the primer in step three more even.
To remove the paint, use 300-grit sandpaper. Fold it widthwise, then lengthwise, and use the solid edge to work on the paint. First, use circular motions to loosen it. Then, scrape up and down to remove it.
Use a damp, clean rag to wipe the surface as you work. Removing the dust will give you a better visualization of the area. After the final sanding, thoroughly wipe the area and proceed to step two.
Step 2: Smooth The Surface With Sandpaper
The next step is to use sandpaper to smooth the surface and remove any excess rust or paint. When selecting your sandpaper, choose a 150-grit grain.
Fold a sheet of sandpaper so that your four fingers are covered. Applying light pressure, manually sand the bare metal and rusty areas. Start at the center and use small, circular motions that overlap to ensure you cover the entire surface. When you reach the outer edges of your work area, try to feather them so they blend in with the surrounding paint.
While you can use an electric sander, you should only do so if you have experience with it. If you do not apply the proper amount of pressure, you could potentially wear through the rusted metal and make a hole that goes clear through your car's body.
Step 3: Apply Primer To The Area
After you have cleared away all of the paint and rust, it is time to prime the area. When choosing a primer, be sure to choose one that has a rust inhibitor. This will prevent any further oxidation from forming in the future.
For the easiest application, spray primer can be used. You will have better control than applying it with paint. Also, you will not have brush markings show after it dries.
Shake the primer can vigorously for a full minute before applying the first coat. Then, hold the can at least six inches away from the area and lightly cover it. Let it dry for a full hour.
Repeat the above to apply two more coats of primer. After the last coat has dried, lightly sand it with 1000-grit paper to smooth the surface
Once you have completed the above steps, you can either leave the spot the color of the primer or paint it. However, you may decide to have it professionally painted. If so, you may want to consult a representative at an auto body repair shop or site like http://autobodyomaha.com to discuss your options.