Cheap car! Expensive scrape?
October 31, 2013 3:21 PM   Subscribe

My no longer able to drive grandparents recently gave me a great deal on their low mileage car. However, they got into a few scrapes before parting with it...

They lived in Oregon, which didn't see a lot of salt in the winter, whereas I live in Minnesota, which sees more than a little. Also, they had a nice garage in which to keep it dry; again, I don't have that option.

This is the scrape it came with.

The $64k question (I hope not...) is: what is the cheapest way to keep the car from rusting/rusting more? I don't care about the aesthetics of the scrape, so I'd like to avoid full door and rear quarter panel replacement. I'm hoping there's... a sealant? Or something similar.
posted by heliostatic to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
Sand it down a bit, and paint it with primer and then some other color. Or take it to a body shop and have them do the same.

Honestly though - if you're diligent about washing it in the winter, it won't be that bad. I've driven cars for years in MN with far worse paint damage than that and the frame rusted out long before the damaged body panels did.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:45 PM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Using rubbing compound on the white parts if you want to get rid of that- that's actually mostly paint from the wall or other car that scraped it. Then yeah, sand, rust remover, primer, and paint. Spray paint should be fine.

I should actually add- I drive a car that had far more rust than that and I didn't actually bother to do the steps I described above. I was lazy and just did the rubbing compound for aesthetics, and then i just spray painted directly onto the rust, because I don't actually care about the car at all. So far it's actually doing ok!
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:48 PM on October 31, 2013

The white is primer under paint layer - don't get rid of it - its protecting the metal underneath! If you don't care what it looks like, covering any bits of bare metal with primer will do the trick - sand any rust off first.
posted by prentiz at 4:08 PM on October 31, 2013

I have bought primer/paint/clear coat from these guys to paint the bumper of an old Mercedes and touch up some scrapes on the hood. It matched as well as you could expect for a 10+ year old car. The specific paint color may be on the driver's door, or a local dealer may be able to tell you. It was a lot better than I expected for such cheap auto paint. I would probably use rubbing compound and lightly sand as described above, mask the door and quarter panel (or just the bottom half), then prime, paint and clear coat it.

If you are worried about the door and quarter panel being sealed from moisture getting in, it is probably too late to worry about this. However, a body shop may only charge you a few hours labor to "straighten" these out without having to smooth them, prep and paint. Probably not worth it.
posted by Yorrick at 4:22 PM on October 31, 2013

I have patched up paint on my car. It is extremely easy if you don't care what your car looks like.

Sand it, prime it, spray it. Viola! If you sand off the visible rust, it's not like there's extra lurking rust that you need to worry about.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 4:59 PM on October 31, 2013

The biggest, best way to prevent rust on any car in an area the uses salt is frequent washing, especially of the underside with a LOT of water every change you get until the streets clear and dry (usually as soon as the streets clear I would wash my car when I lived in snow country). Especially important to get that salt/road residue washed out of areas like under the trim and anywhere there is a crease or fold that transitions to another material (around the bumper say or under the trunk door gap). To do an adequate job you need to go to one of the DIY places where you get the wand out and hold it yourself. It will keep the rust monster at bay.

As for this? wash it good and scrub a little with a cloth and then spray with some clear coat sealer in spray can you get at any auto parts store. It won't look pretty but it will do a good job on stopping any rust. And if you decide to get it fixed later it won't make the job of the actual body repair any harder.
posted by bartonlong at 6:28 PM on October 31, 2013

In my town, I'd take it to Foggs, the local body shop that will do a cheap competent job of making it look better without replacing everything, and without spending a lot. Ideally, your town has a cheap competent body shop.
posted by theora55 at 7:18 PM on October 31, 2013

Cosmetic scrapes are cosmetic. I'd also make sure the engine maintenance has been taken care of even though its obvious. If you want to keep it for long.
posted by TheAdamist at 7:23 PM on October 31, 2013

Great feedback from everyone!

Automotive novice follow up question: for sanding, can I just use my woodshop mouse or orbital sander?
posted by heliostatic at 8:07 PM on October 31, 2013

Yes you can - or just a block of wood and elbow grease. Use increasingly fine paper to get it smooth.
posted by prentiz at 2:10 AM on November 1, 2013

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