What To Do About Rust Spots On Your Vehicle

What To Do About Rust Spots On Your Vehicle

Tuesday, 04 February 2020 12:42

No one wants to drive an old rust bucket around town - but these ominous stains are much more than cosmetic problems. Rust is like a cancer on your vehicle; it slowly and surely eats away at metalwork and, eventually, sends your car or truck to an early grave. It can impact essential systems, such as your brake lines, exhaust, etc., and render it unsafe to drive. Even if it’s not quite at that point, rust certainly impacts your resale or trade-in value - and it will only spread. The point is: rust is bad! 

What do you do if you notice rust spots on your vehicle? 

Today’s cars and trucks feature special alloys and coatings to curb rust, but metal is still metal. It’s susceptible to oxidation, which creates rust. Now, there is good news! Your vehicle isn’t doomed: you just need to take steps to treat rust as soon as possible - and, better yet, to prevent it from forming in the first place. Let’s start there.

You can avoid a lot of rust-related decay by simply washing your vehicle regularly. Clear away the dirt, grime, and salt that corrode the metal. Be sure to clean behind the tires and hit the lower door corners, which are especially vulnerable to rust.

Next, check the drain holes on the bottoms of the doors and rocker panels. These are designed to allow rainwater to flow out. If they get gunked up, water is trapped and starts to corrode the metal. Grab a pipe cleaner and get to work.

Nicks, Dings, Scratches, and Cracks

Even minor damage to your paint job can lead to major rust issues if left untreated. A scratch, for instance, exposes the steel and creates conditions for corrosion and surface rust. Structurally speaking, surface rust is not a safety problem - yet. Remember, rust can spread and penetrate deeper into the metalwork. Luckily, it is an easy fix at this stage. A trip to a qualified automotive collision and refinishing shop will fix you right up.


Say you have a scratch or dent that wasn’t treated. It can create a bubble on the surface, and rust just feeds on itself: it expands and starts to flake away. This exposes the base metal, which begins corroding. You’ll notice a pitted, rough texture. This is called “scale.” 

Scale is a bit more difficult to treat: you have to use a tool like a wire brush to get through the rust and then smooth out the surface with sandpaper. From there, it’s time to prime and paint. At this point, it’s still a relatively easy fix.

Penetrating Rust 

Houston, we have a problem. When rust is allowed to expand, it can flake away the base metal and leave holes. This is where you get into dangerous territory: a rusted frame means your car is unsafe. If you were in an accident, for instance, its integrity is questionable, to say the least. You need a qualified repair service to either replace the affected panel or cut out the rotted areas and weld replacement patch panels in place. 

It’s worth taking some time every week or so to wash down your vehicle and clean out the nooks and crannies. And when you notice dings, dents, scratches, and nicks that can lead to bigger problems, come and see us as soon as you can.