Staving off rust on my truck (for now)
March 30, 2022 3:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm so mad at myself - I got my truck hung up on a concrete lamppost base this morning, and scraped up and dented the front left driver side quarter panel. It's not affecting the driveability, but my concern is rust. I absolutely cannot afford the hundreds of dollars in bodywork right now, so is there anything I can do to prevent rust until I can actually get this fixed?

If it matters, the vehicle is a 2014 Nissan X-terra. The scrape and dent is on the lower right part of the quarter panel near the edge of the wheel well, and also at the lower left part of the driver's side door. Door still open/closes fine and nothing hits the tire.

I'm concerned about rust as I live in Connecticut. I had this same damn thing happen to my last car and never fixed it, and it rusted, so I'm trying to learn what I can do in the meantime to prevent rust.

I have pics, but no way to show them (don't have google or imgur or any picture platforms).
posted by sundrop to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Remove any loose, flaking or cracked paint by scraping or sanding. Use a rattle-can primer and topcoat, mask off the undamaged areas you don't want painted with tape and newspaper.
It'll probably look worse but should do the trick. Do it ASAP.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 3:46 PM on March 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Ordinary hardware store spray paint is what my family did. Sand it first if you have time. Two or three coats can't hurt.
posted by eotvos at 3:46 PM on March 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: A layer of rust converting primer is probably not overkill, even on a fresh ding. Even if it’s been dry, even if you’re sanding it. There are a billion forums and blogs that go into how to do a “good” rattle-can paint job. Worth dipping into that world for a minute.

A friend did the same thing recently, and just did a rectangle swatch of the black and yellow caution chevron.
posted by furnace.heart at 5:00 PM on March 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I did this to a few scrapes and rust spots on my car. I cleaned and sanded down to bare metal, filled in with Bondo, and then did a mix of spray paint and touch-up with tape surrounding the area, like above. It looks like the world's okayest patch job, but it hasn't re-rusted in the seven or eight years since.
posted by jameaterblues at 8:01 PM on March 30, 2022

Best answer: Can you call a junkyard and see if you can source some "gently used" quarterpanel and door?

In the meanwhile, take off the panel and do the rattle-can treatment... properly.
posted by kschang at 8:48 PM on March 30, 2022

Best answer: Protecting the outside of the panels is straightforward, as others have shown. The bigger risk for rust is if the inside of the panels have been damaged, mostly because you won't see it until it's too late. If it's just a 'gentle' scrape of the panel, it's probably fine. If the panel is actually creased or torn at all, it may have flaked off the coating on the inside. This is only likely if there is a sharp crease or tear in the panel.

To the extent possible, try and see behind the panel (the extent will depend on your ability and willingness to remove things like door trims). It's probably fine anyway as cars are pretty well rust-proofed these days but, if you can, worth checking the inside of the panels.
posted by dg at 9:39 PM on March 30, 2022

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