Preventing rust on car
December 31, 2021 12:00 PM   Subscribe

How do I prevent more rust within the paint chips on old car?

I have a 2005 Toyota with around 20 paint chips smaller than an eraser head, some of which are starting to show rust underneath. How can I prevent these from rusting further, at least for a couple years?

The car is old and full of dings and scratches. I don't care how it looks so much as I want to do what I can to get a couple more years of life out of it while preventing as much major damage as possible. I'm googling around, but much of what I'm seeing is 'what do to to prevent rust from happening to begin with' or 'there is rust now, you need to spend $500 on exterior detailing to make your car shiny and new'.

I'm looking for the *cheapest* (possibly DIY?) solution out there. Or the magic words to get a cheap solution from a body shop/detail shop? I'm not super concerned with how it looks, I just want to make sure my car makes it through the next couple New York winters parked outside without it turning into a pile of dust. I don't have a garage or covered parking, so any DIY suggestions should be something I can take care of parked on a Brooklyn side street.

posted by greta simone to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
You honestly can’t permanently stop it. But, if you’re ok with temporary cosmetic fixes, get an applicator of touch-up pain in the appropriate color and apply it to the chipped area.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:16 PM on December 31, 2021

Get some Owatrol Oil. It will halt the process of rusting for several years. Apply it (by spray can or with a paint brush) anywhere where you see rust, or suspect the paint is damaged and lets water enter.
It's colorless, it penetrates rust, and it stops it from going further. Keep a cloth handy to wipe it off of the intact parts of the paint, if you care about that.
If you re-apply it every two years or so, it'll keep working.

I have seen it protect completely bare steel for years. This is the good stuff.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:53 PM on December 31, 2021 [7 favorites]

Oh, and if the areas you want to apply it to are very small, you can apply it with a Q-tip. It doesn't get much easier.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:50 PM on December 31, 2021

Oh yes, I have been here before - with an ancient $400 4-speed Toyota that was parked outside in Canadian winters! This requires a trip to the local hardware store - if you have a big-box one nearby with everything i.e., automotive, household etc etc, perfect.

First you need some fine grit sandpaper - just ask the folks at the store and tell them what you are doing; they will likely be happy to share their experience. Carefully sand out the rusty bits, then wipe them clean, let them dry, and paint on some rust stop stuff. [It has been 30+ years since I last did this, but again, rely on the people at the store to guide you regarding what products you need].

I then sprayed on some car-type paint (again, ask the store people) once the rust-stop layer was dry. It worked! Reader, it was Not Pretty, but this kept the rust in check and it was a fun tiny project. I kept driving the car (a 1978-ish Toyota Corolla 'Liftback') for several more years until the alternator failed.

Total cost at the time was probably under $40. Good luck and have fun!
posted by lulu68 at 4:29 PM on December 31, 2021

I have had good luck with the "rust converter" products where you knock off the flaky, loose rust, then brush this stuff on. The rusty spots turn black. I used it on the underside of an old truck to keep rust there from getting out of hand. It won't make for a pretty surface to paint over, though.
posted by coppertop at 5:15 PM on December 31, 2021

Seconding rust converter product. I have something similar to this and it works great on my car that has some exposed metal. You can apply it with a small paintbrush or q-tip to the spots on your car.
posted by Red Desk at 7:10 PM on December 31, 2021

I sanded down to clean metal (cutting through some existing paint and primer) and re-painted with auto paint from the hardware store, no primer. It's been good five years so far. Embrace the color mismatch.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:34 AM on January 1

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