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Discussion Starter #1
So I've got around 8 or so small rust spots on my car (most are no larger than a quarter). The winter where I live is brutal when it comes to salting, so it's no surprise really. One auto body shop near me has quoted me $2600 to repair them! Does that seem ridiculously high? What should I do? Continue shopping around, or try fixing them myself? I don't have the money to repaint the whole car so that's out of the picture.

I've attached a pic of each of them.
 

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Too bad about all the rust. We get a moderate of salt around here.....in a mild winter it seems like the road crews just dump their remaining salt at the end of the season, anywhere they can, just to get rid if it.

But I've had rust problems like you showed, on every car I owned that was 8+ years old. The one exception was an '86 Nissan P/U which I bought new and still have. When I got it, I spent two weeks doing rust-proofing and the thing is still basically rust-free. So with this Focus, I made an effort this time to attempt rust proofing of every likely spot I could.

The lower rear edge of the front fender looks like a rust-trap. Here's a few things I did to head off the rust. Since there seemed to be little interest in the subject I stopped posting some of the things I did. Thanks for the photos.......gives me some new ideas.

Tell you what.....when rust gets to the point that you have, getting a good permanent fix is almost impossible. Too bad....

Oh.....most of the rust areas you showed probably started rusting from the inside. What you see is the final result when the rust ate all the way through the metal. So if you just sand down the rust areas, fill in the holes and repaint......it'll start visibly rusting again in a year or so, because rust is still present on the inside around the area you fixed.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ugh, that's what I keep hearing - unless I get a complete repaint, I'm going to be battling it no matter what. I like your suggestion myothercarisafocus. I'm going to do some research on what kind of sandpaper, etc. to use and post my repair results here.

Any tips on color matching the paint? It's an '03 so the paint has definitely faded from its original color, making it hard to match with an off the shelf paint can.
 

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The problem trying to match colors.....Your car has probably faded to more than one color, depending on which areas got the most sun.

You could get photos of the various spots, adjust the color in photoshop so a print matches the color.....

Then take the prints to an automotive paint place....they scan the photo, and the computer will automatically mix a batch of paint to match.

Home Depot can do this for house paints.....Other places should be able also.
 

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Instead of sanding, use a small screwdriver to scrape the rust off. This way you will minimize damage to the surrounding paint. If there are deep pits, use the corner of the screwdriver to dig into them. Use some water and a sponge to loosen the rust also, it sounds funny but it works.

After you have most of the rust gone, use a cotton swab to brush on some rust remover. You can find some at any hardware or autoparts store. You usually let it sit for a while, then wash it off. After the rust treatment is good and dry, brush on some primer. Then finish with some touch up paint.

It is not that hard or expensive and you will be proud of the results, as long as you don't expect it to look perfect (it won't, unless you are standing 20 feet away) You may have to repeat this process in a year or two also, welcome to older cars in the rust belt.
 

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Go get a welding brush, they are made to take impurities off of metal, then once you get the rust off and surface clean go on ahead and prime it right away, if you dont want a show quality finish get some rust stop primer, then go to the store and get your paint.


The main thing to remember is not to let that fresh metal sit for longer than it needs too, I would mask the area off before I even strated de-rusting to contain damage(masking tape works wonders), then when im done getting the rust off I would be able to spray right away. If the pits in the metal are large you can also use bondo when you are done de-rusting and it will stop rust like primer and is made to fill in holes.
 

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Moved to "Exterior Body & Lighting Chat".

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this stuff yet.
It's an off-roaders' dream come true...

And, I've used with GREAT success:
POR-15
And, to improve adhesion:
METAL READY
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sorry about posting the thread in wrong area; thanks for moving it.

The second poster mentioned POR-15. Isn't it black though? Since my car is silver, does that just mean more top coats? Also, how do I avoid the brush texture when painting this stuff on? I thought using a spray can would give a more uniform, smooth look.

Unfortunately, I've already started sanding! But it seems to be working great so far, I'm lucky to just have a little surface rust. Should I continue with this, judging by the pictures? I did scratch the surrounding paint a bit on this spot, but it's hard not to when sanding aggressively. I'm using 80 grit to start. Any suggestions on protecting the surrounding paint?

The before pic is the first one in my second post.
 

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It looks good so far, just be careful not to scratch up neighboring panels. You can use 2" masking tape to protect the surrounding areas while sanding. Make sure to progress up to at least 400 grit sandpaper before you start painting. Once you have sanded, you will need to spray the paint on. Get a can of gray primer and a can of Dupli-Color touch up paint that matches your cars paint code. Any autoparts store should sell small cans of touch up paint. Practice spraying a little first on some other metal object, like a coffee can.

Wipe the whole area well to remove any dust. Then spray the primer just enough to cover the bare metal. You don't have to cover any of the old paint. You can sand the primer with a very fine Scothbrite pad to smooth it out if you want. An age old trick is to spray the primer and paint through a paper towel roll to reduce overspray. After the primer dries for at least an hour, spray 3-4 coats of paint. Wait about 5-10 minutes between coats and start very lightly. Fan it out enough to cover the scratches. It doesn't need to be very thick, just enough for an even color.

I wouldn't suggest any masking tape while primering or painting because it will leave a sharp line that will be very noticable. One exception is that you can mask along sharp body lines, like the top edge of the rocker panel. Mask along the line where the shadow is in the first picture and the shadow will help hide the paint edge. The shadow effect also makes any color differences difficult to notice.

It might help to spray a clear coat over the paint. Then after a week or so, you can polish it with white polishing compound. Or maybe the paint alone will look just fine, your call.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wow, thanks Maroon, that pretty much covers everything!! I'm going to pick up the materials tomorrow and give your instructions a go. I'll post pics when I'm done.

Edit: Do you recommend using a rust-inhibiting primer?
 

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The second poster mentioned POR-15. Isn't it black though? Since my car is silver, does that just mean more top coats? Also, how do I avoid the brush texture when painting this stuff on? I thought using a spray can would give a more uniform, smooth look.
Woops...I thought I read through all the posts before I mentioned the POR-15.

Yes, it is black, but it's very easy to paint, and should be painted anyway if it's in an area exposed to the sun.
You don't have to brush it on, it can be sprayed.
You can also sand it smooth so the top-coat will be glossy.

I will say, it's used more on underbody parts, but I've also seen it used with great success on rocker panels and quarter panels.
 

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Buy yourself a jug of TC-11. Fill up a spray bottle and spray down the undercarriage before and after winter. This stuff works pretty well. www.tc-11.com I like to spray it in all the water drain holes in the doors and hatch/trunk. Anything you spray this stuff on will stay rust free for a long time.
 

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Once you're done, protect your work by getting a set of mudflaps behind the front wheels. Most of the areas in your photos are basically taking abuse from the front wheel roadspray. Here in Buffalo (rust capitol of the universe) they are de rigueur. Check the hem welds on the bottom of the rear doors too. They also take a lot of abuse from the front wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Alright, so here's my first spot that was sanded, primed, painted, and clear coated. I wanted to get my practice on the spot that was the least exposed, and it turned out great. The before shot is the first pic in my second post. Unfortunately I didn't get one with the door open. Let me know what you guys think.

I have a hard time believing people that say this will "flake off in a year or so because rust never goes away." I did 3-4 coats at each level.
 

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Rust will never go away, and most treatments on the market don't last forever...IMHO, the only way to treat rust is to completely remove it, by either sanding and grinding it away, or if need be cutting the rusted piece out and patching it with new metal.
Also, Bondo is porous just as primer is, and will not hold back or prevent rust, just hide it until it gets really bad.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So how long do you think my solution will last given I sanded down to bare, smooth metal before doing anything?
 
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