How Much Do Car Rust Repairs Cost?

Written by: Staff

Rust, which is a form of corrosion in which oxygen combines with metal, ultimately causing it to turn into a reddish brown color, will eventually eat away at your car if you ignore it.

While the deterioration process takes time, it can happen regardless of where you live.

Holiday Road by out of ideas, on Flickr
Holiday Road” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  out of ideas

How much does it cost to fix rust on a car?

The cost of fixing rust on a car will greatly depend on the professional you use, the car you drive and the amount of rust that needs to be fixed.  Smaller spots, no more than one to three inches in diameter, can cost as little as $50 to $100 to fix, whereas major repairs, larger than 12 inches in diameter, can cost upwards of $200 to more than $2,500.

Size of JobAverage Price
Minor rust damage, often as small as one to three inches in diameter.$60 to $150 per 1-3 inches
Intermediate repairs, often several layers deep, can be up to 12 inches in diameter.$150 to $350, depending on the number of rust spots and the size. Use this estimate as an indicator "per" area.
Major repairs, often larger than 12 inches in diameter, can be extremely deep and even through the metal, leaving hollow spots. Extensive damage may require more than just removal such as welding and/or replacing part sections.$200 to $2,000+, greatly depending on the amount of labor required and size of the job.

A forum member on this forum thread said he took his car to a local shop and was quoted $300 to sand down the entire hood and repaint it.  When painting is involved, which is often the solution when a panel, such as a car door or hood, has an excessive amount of rust, then it’s best to budget close to $500 per panel.

Fixing rust on a car

One of the simplest rust repairs is surface rust, which, as the name implies, begins at the surface once the paint and coat bond have been broken.  The spot, when left alone, can get bigger as time goes on, continuing to spread until it’s successfully stopped.  This type of repair is fairly straightforward and will require a sander and a metal conditioner.  Sandblasting, if the shop uses this method, can also be an alternative to the sanding and grinding process.  After the rust spot is removed and conditioned, a two-part epoxy primer will be used; however, if the spot is deeper than average, then a plastic filler will be used to fill the void.

For rust jobs that have been ignored for quite some time, then the parts affected will be inspected to determine the best course of action.  If the rust is severe and it affects the safety of the vehicle, then the shop will want to replace the entire panel and repaint it, but if the part can be salvaged, then the rust, similar to the prior method, will be grinded and filled with a filler.

Tips to know

If you’re looking for an effective long-term repair, then it’s often wise to replace the entire panel for structural and integrity purposes.  While this type of repair won’t be cheap, it can extend the life of your vehicle and can help the car hold its value.  Plus, replacing the panel can often prevent the rust from reoccurring as many repairs won’t last a lifetime, especially if you continue to treat the car the same way you had before.

How can I save money?

Smaller rust spots are very easy to fix at home.  Rust dissolver gel, for instance, simply brushes onto the rust spot and will wash out with a rag.  These smaller eight-ounce containers can cost less than $10 to $20.  If the rust spots are smaller than a quarter, then it may be wise to do it at home to save some money.  You can also remove rust with a sanding disk on an angle grinder, followed by fixing a body filler, such as Bondo.

Prevention is key, and even though it may be too late, it’s always wise to park your car indoors as much as possible to prevent it from the outdoors.  Also, if possible, adding a coat of wax before the winter season to prevent the rust from starting.

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Average Reported Cost: $3800

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Less Expensive $1 $1.5K $3K $5K $6.5K More Expensive $8k

How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. Bill (Iron Mountain,  Michigan) paid $3800 and said:

    $3800 for the whole truck to be disassembled, new rockers and cab corners put on and painted and put all back together. The whole body of the truck comes apart which is very labor intensive. Then they cut out the old rusty rockers and cab corners and welded them all back in which also takes lots of time to do. Then I’m sure they were trial fitting parts to make sure there were no problems. Then everything was cavity waxed. I am very happy with the quality of the job for the amount of money as every body shop around here(Upper Michigan)costs that. I got 100,000 out of my old rockers looking for about 125,000 for these ones with the cavity wax now being sprayed in there to help preserve it.

    Was it worth it? Yes

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