Get Rid of Rust – How to Properly Clean Your Automobile

We’ve all seen it, the vehicle sitting in the yard of someone forgetful. The car, with missing hubcaps and shattered windows, wasting away and acting as a pseudo-fertilizer for the grass that seems to be growing to engulf it. All of these vehicles, left to be taken by the wild, are likely to be covered in the brutal and brittle brown of rust. Shoot, even vehicles not left to the elements can be covered in rust. If you have a car pushing near its final age, it’s likely to have a bit of metal wear somewhere. So, how do you get rid of that pesky rust?

As a car-selling website that deals with both used and junk vehicles, we’ve seen our fair share of rusty endeavors. And, as many with a sponge and hope might know, it’s extremely difficult to get off. Unfortunately, a rag and soap will not pull the corroded metal from its surface. It takes both skill and effort to get rid of rust. So, if you have decided you want to clean your car of the brown gunk, you may need a bit of help.

Here are tips on how to get rid of rust on your automobile.

What Is Rust, Really?

Let’s get down to the science. What is rust and why is it so hard to clean?

At Sell My Car Colorado, we are no scientists. While we have worked with a plethora of rusty vehicles, we won’t try to break down the concept in terms only murmured by official labcoats. Let’s keep it colloquial.

Rust is the electrochemical breakdown of iron-based metals. Oxidation, for those with fancy degrees. Basically, the iron molecules of the car react with oxygen and water molecules and creates Fe2O3, otherwise known as iron. Leaving iron wet and in the fluctuating environment of outside weather speeds up the process. Unfortunately, car makers have moved toward steel alloy for most vehicles due to its flexibility, weight, and tensile strength. Steel can actually rust factor depending on outside variables.

Road salts and other containments (like the many used during Colorado winters) act as an electrolyte. Electrolytes speed up the chemical reaction process. Therefore, if your older metal is covered in moisture, dirt, and road salt, it’s likely to rust faster.

Simply put: rust is a chemical reaction between your vehicle’s metal, water, and the air around it. Leaving metal outside causes the process to happen faster due to the fluctuation in temperatures and the increase in moisture.

How to Prevent It

There are a plethora of different tactics for preventing rust buildup. Like all good problems, prevention is better than solution. We won’t break into detail about all the ways to prevent rust buildup (for that’s not the article), but here are a few tips.

  • Wash your car often – Getting rid of the dirt and grime can significantly reduce the speed of the rust-creating reaction.
  • In the winter, rinse your car off frequently – Though washing your car can be a pain during the frigid months (we discussed it here), it’s crucial to the prevention of rust. Remember what we said about road salt?
  • Keep it inside a garage – If the outside elements are the biggest causes of rust, then keeping it inside is an obvious answer. Unfortunately, not everyone has a garage. If you do, keep it inside during storms and snow, at least.
  • Keep an eye on the paint – Your clear coat is a prevention technique for rust. If you see that your paint or the clear coat is beginning to chip away, rust is sure to follow. Get it taken care of by an autobody shop.

Will It Affect Your Vehicle Sale?

At the end of the day, we deal with selling and buying used vehicles. So, if you are here, you are probably looking to get rid of rust on a car you are selling. Will that rust reduce your asking price?

It truly depends. Depending on the car’s popularity, running condition, and mileage, buyers may overlook a bit of wear and tear. After all, they are in the market of buying a used car, they can expect a bit of rust and grime. But, if the car is completely rusted or has a significant amount of rust under the hood, it may reduce your profit margin.

Ultimately, things that look more appealing sell better. That’s the simplistic nature of materialism. If you have a tiny amount of rust on your car and have the time to fix it, you should look into it. A fully-rusted exterior might not be worth the effort, but a spot or two should be.

Best Way to Get Rid of Rust

Before discussing what it takes to get rid of a spot of rust, we must note the extent of the removal effort. Because rust is a chemical reaction on the exterior itself, it can not be removed lightly. It’s not a matter of chipping or scrubbing. Removal will, by all means, take the paint and clear coat off of the spot. Therefore, painting and priming will be necessary after removal.

Remember: prevention is easier and better than solution.

1. Wash

All good things start with a car wash. Right?

Before doing anything to your vehicle’s exterior, it’s always important to wash it. If you are to leave dirt and grime on your car when dealing with rust, you are increasing the chances of it creeping back in and causing more rust. Make sure to dry the area before working, too. Moisture is bad for rust!

Afterward, tape off the area of rust with masking tape. This is crucial. You are going to be working with stripping chemicals and sandpaper. You don’t want to accidentally hurt an area that doesn’t have rust.

2. Use Removal Spray

There are plenty of rust removal sprays on the market. Fortunately, they are all pretty much the same. They all have different instructions, though, so make sure to read them carefully before applying. While this step will likely take off a good chunk of the rustic debris, it won’t do the whole job.

At this point, the process becomes that of repainting a car.

3. Sandpaper the Area

Start with 320-grit sandpaper and begin working on the area with straight strokes in the same direction. Feel free to move to coarser paper if this is not cutting it. Work until the rest of the rust is gone.

As noted, the initial spray or other chemicals should have done a majority of the work, the scrubbing is just to clean everything up. And, yes, this will be stripping your car’s paint. As we noted, that’s a necessary step. Unfortunately, rust doesn’t come off without damaging the metal and paint.

4. Wash Again!

Wash the area again with a degreasing or wax-stripping shampoo or automotive soap. This not only gets rid of all the chemicals and debris left by the sanding, but it gets your exterior ready for the painting and priming process. It’s always necessary to wash the area after you work on it. Don’t leave contaminants on the paint. That’s a quick way to re-rust your car.

5. Prime It

Now begins the painting process.

We aren’t going to go through the painting process, for that’s a whole other article. We will note that if you scraped off paint through this process, it’s crucial to prime it. Even if you don’t plan on repainting the vehicle or spot, you need to apply primer to keep the area safe from more damage.

If it’s bare metal, use a metal clear coat cover instead.

After you’ve gotten the rust and paint off and primed the area, now you need to paint it. If you paint it correctly, everything should be back to new.

If not…

If you want to sell your vehicle but don’t feel like fixing your rust, we’ll buy it for market price! We buy junk cars every day. Whether it’s running or not, we can handle it.

Sell My Car Colorado will buy your used or junk car immediately. One of our qualified dealers will give you an offer. If you accept, we will come to pick the vehicle up from you. Even if it is inoperable, we will tow it free of charge. You don’t have to leave your home or office.

Furthermore, we will offer you valid and fair prices for your vehicles. We also guarantee $100 more than the competition. Plus, we sell cars, too. Regardless of your windshield status, we will buy your vehicle!

Contact us today for a free quote!