How do you remove rust?

December 1, 2011 | By Richard Prince


I’m restoring a 1964 Falcon Sprint and am doing a complete teardown.

I have the car on stands on construction blocks for comfortable undercarriage work. My question relates to rust removal. What are your favorite products or methods for removing surface or scale rust underneath the car?

I’ve seen a lot of products from various companies such as “Rust Doctor,” “POR” and Eastwood, each of which has numerous products.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the most efficient workflow methods for doing a nasty part of a restoration.


The cleanest (at least as far as your workshop is concerned), quickest and most thorough way to remove all rust is by bringing the stripped-down car to a place that does electro-chemical immersion rust removal by immersing the entire car in a chemical bath. The downside includes the hassle of getting the car there and back and the cost, which is usually quite a bit higher than do-it-yourself methods. Also, since a commercial scale electrochemical rust removal process that’s done correctly removes every trace of everything on the metal’s surface, including not only rust but also paint, primer, oil, and rust preventative chemicals, the metal is very susceptible to quickly corroding. It can be challenging to get paint or another protective coating on all of the hidden and difficult-to-reach surfaces of your car’s body and chassis.

As far as do-it-yourself chemical rust removal, I don’t have enough personal experience with any particular product to comment one way or another. I normally employ mechanical methods—sanding, sand or other abrasive materials blasting, wire wheeling and, if appropriate, grinding—to remove rust that I can see and reach.

I have used POR 15 and Rust Bullet to try and protect rusty areas I couldn’t easily reach from further corrosion.

The key to using these or other similar products is good surface preparation. That means removing loose rust, paint, water, oils, waxes, dirt and all other contaminants to the extent feasible.

And whether you use a rust removal or rust inhibiting chemical, or go old school and blast, sand, wheel or grind rust off, it’s imperative that you take all of the proper safety precautions, including wearing safety goggles and a respirator that correlates to the material you’re using.