I have several developing rust spots on my car.

What's the best way to remove the rust / prep the surface?

I picked up a wire cup brush with a 1/4", but it's limited to 4,500 RPM. My tool options are a 1/8" collet Dremel (won't fit), 1/4" die grinder (20,000+ RPM), and a battery drill (600 RPM, and under-performing when I tried it).

  • Can I limit the die grinder's speed by limiting the air pressure and still have it be usable?
  • Do I just need to go buy something else entirely?

What should I do for the best chance at a good paint application?

I already have a can of color-matched paint in a rattle can.

  • Must I apply primer first? How many coats?
  • Is there a particular kind / concern about applying it?
  • Not relevant to this particular job, but is there a difference in the primer I'd use for metal vs. plastic?

2 Answers 2


A wire brush is the best option for removing surface rust, but I wouldn't try the brush you have in any of the tools you've got!

In terms of painting, you can just use normal primer, but I would go for a rust inhibiting one (e.g. those sold by Bilt Hamber, Hammerite and others) - If it has started rusting there, there is a reason for it (usually stonechips), so you might as well try and prevent it reoccurring. The particular primer should tell you how many coats to use, but I normally go for around three thin ones.

Metal primers are different to plastic ones, as they often incorporate a slight acid to bond better with the surface.


In addition to all the points made by @NickC - unless you have a huge expanse of rust, a handheld wire brush might be better than anything else.

I usually keep my cars for a very long time, and this being Scotland - they rust. A lot! So I just keep on top of the sills, arches etc with wire brushes - use them at the first sign of rust and expose the metal back a good inch all round the rust spot; prime it up and respray.

Always worth keeping an old tin of your car paint to help get matching colour next time.

  • what is it about Scotland that makes cars rust ? humidity ?
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 21:31
  • It rains here. Frequently. It's also a very small country surrounded by the sea, so there's also a lot of salt in the air.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 21:33
  • oh, i see. sort of like Florida
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 21:43
  • Hmmm - I would have classed it as entirely unlike Florida, actually. If you look on a map you can see why - latitude, prevailing westerlies etc
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 22:02
  • i meant that vehicles in FL are subject to similar environmental exposure and effects...
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 22:03

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