I have a 10 year old Honda Jazz (=Honda Fit in the US – I live in the UK).

I'd like to keep the car going for as long as reasonably possible: hoping for another 5-10 years?

It has a variety of problems with the paintwork. Rust is showing in some locations – pictures below.

I bought some Honda touch up paint (basecoat and clearcoat). But now I've investigated some more, it seems fixing paintwork issues is actually very difficult to do well, unless you have expertise and facilities (see eg @motosubatsu describing the environment and process). I've never painted a car before, so I'm starting to think it might be best just to leave these problems as-is.

How major are these paintwork & rust problems really? Are they ok to leave is-is?

Cosmetically, it doesn't look perfect. This doesn't bother me, but I do want to keep the car going.

If it is important to fix these problems, is there a simple method that is good enough? Eg just apply the paint and clearcoat as per the instructions, over the rust, and leave unpolished?

Any advice appreciated with thanks.

Whole car (the first two problems pictured below – front door scratch and rear door missing patch – are visible if you load full image and zoom in): Whole car

Scratch on front door: Scratch on door

Missing patch (showing primer?) at rear door: Missing patch at rear door

Missing patch (showing primer and rust?) above rear window: Missing patch above rear window

Chips showing rust, at front: Chips showing rust, at front

Scratches on front bumper, revealing black plastic?: Scratches on front bumper

Scratches on wing mirror, revealing white plastic?: Scratches on wing mirror

Small black spots at various locations including the roof. The picture here is of the rear side, showing spots on the panel and also on the (plastic) petrol cap cover. Answers here suggest this is tree sap. Small black spots

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    Welcome to the site! Excellently written question btw (and I'm not just saying that because you gave one of my answers a shout out!). Sep 12, 2019 at 13:54

3 Answers 3


If you're okay with the cosmetic affects of the rust then the only one there that I would even remotely consider an issue is the one above the rear window (pic #4).

  • Front & Rear door - there are on the skin of the door which is just a thin sheet of metal over the structural frame of the door - they aren't structural and aren't going to present any issues. The one on the rear might cause some issues with water ingress - but it's going to be a few years before it even gets in to that ball park. From a point of view of the car continuing to work and pass it's MOT they're a non-issue.

  • Above rear window - what potentially concerns me here is what might lie beneath the window lip itself, I suspect a poor quality repair here at some point in the car's life. If this is corrosion progresses you might find yourself in a position where the window is no longer effectively weather tight (I actually had similar happen on one of my cars after previous owner had a poor quality windscreen repair done - it leaked like a so-and-so), while again this isn't an MOT fail in it's own right it can be extremely inconvenient having a damp car interior for half the year and you might encounter other water-related issues over time. Is it worth getting it "fixed"? IMO no - a 10 year old Jazz that's already a bit scruffy around the edges isn't likely worth a lot (not trying to be insulting here) and it's likely not something you could sort at home, and it's going to cost a few hundred quid at least to sort. If it's not showing any sign of failing at this point (i.e. you aren't getting excessive condensation on the rear window or excess wind noise at speeds) then you've likely got a good few years left before it's a real issue anyway.

  • Chips showing rust, at front - honestly there's unlikely to be a car on the roads that's more than a few years old that doesn't have stone chips on the front somewhere. Honestly I wouldn't worry about these - they just stand out because of the light colour of the paint. While these are on the A-Pillar (which is structurally quite important) the rust looks superficial and is extremely unlikely to have affected the structure of the pillar at all.

  • "Scratches on front bumper, revealing black plastic?" - yep, that's the black plastic of the bumper. It might look bad but it's not having the slightest detriment to the bumper doing it's job and it's not going to get any worse.

  • "Scratches on wing mirror, revealing white plastic?" - yep, that's either white plastic or, more likely primer. Same as the bumper it's not attractive but it's not hurting anything and it's not going to get worse.

  • "Small black spots at various locations including the roof. The picture here is of the rear side, showing spots on the panel and also on the (plastic) petrol cap cover. Answers here suggest this is tree sap." - yep, it's either tree sap or tar. If you run a finger gently over them you should feel that they are ever-so-slightly raised, contrast that with the slight dip you'll feel on say the chips on the A-pillar. Tar remover and/or a good claying would get these off but tbh that's purely cosmetics, they aren't really hurting anything, and you'll pick up more.

Now.. I know this may appear to contradict my answer that the OP linked to but there is actually an argument to be made here that a bit of home touch-up work might be worth doing (bearing in mind you already have the paint) - not because it will come up looking seamless, or even particularly good (because it won't) but this is not the same goal as the OP in that thread (who wanted it to look "new" again).

The gains here would be protection, some of these marks (I'm particularly thinking of the Front door and A-pillar ones) would benefit from a touch up as it will prevent or at least slow the development of the rust - for relatively low effort.

Essentially you'd want to use something like this to gently remove as much rust as possible from the chip/scratch and then apply primer -> paint -> lacquer. This won't work quite as well on rear door and above the rear window as the rust isn't as well defined - but you'd still get some benefit from very lightly sanding the affected area and then painting on top.

I'll re-iterate though that this won't make it look pretty - nor is it strictly necessary as I discussed above I don't see any of these as critical to the continued use of the car.

  • Wouldn't you brush some rust converter onto the rust before painting over it? Sep 13, 2019 at 14:37
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    @R.., you can get most of the rust off with the sanding pencil, and a light pass with 150 grit sandpaper on the larger spots will help smooth out the flaky paint. Rust converter is more for large areas that can't be easily sanded or otherwise have the rust removed. This is small enough that simple sanding should take care of it. I agree that repainting isn't about looks, but rather protection. Best to catch it early, when it's this easy to fix. BTW, I've used WD-40 to remove tar & bug spots, and WD-40 is relatively easy to remove with just soap and water. Sep 13, 2019 at 16:46
  • @computercarguy: I figured the bare metal would rust almost immediately after sanding, and would need something to stop that anyway. Sep 13, 2019 at 16:48
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    @R.., that's what the primer is for. Rust won't immediately set in. I've had bare steel sit in water or outside in the rain for a couple days to weeks and it still didn't rust. I normally sand, air dust it off, wash the remaining dust off with water, dry it with a towel (paper or cloth), let it dry for a couple hours, then primer. Sometimes only 1 coat of primer is necessary, but usually 2-3 light coats works well, letting dry between coats. Let that dry for a couple hours, then 3-5 light coats of paint, letting dry, then 1 coat of clear. Let dry +24 hrs, then buff and/or wax. Sep 13, 2019 at 16:54
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    BTW, that assumes spraying, if it's brushing, then it's almost always 1 coat. I've had better luck blending new paint with old when not masking off the area, when spraying, just don't over-spray too much. Also, light sanding with 250+ sandpaper, when done between coats, will smooth out the new primer and paint pretty good, too. Sep 13, 2019 at 16:58

I think that the superficial body damages aren't the most important factors when you want to preserve the car for another 10 years.

I try to list the most common (in my opinion) factors that a car won't last.

  • Owner wants something better
  • Expensive engine issues
  • Rust/damage on the underside that compromises road safety (that is a check the MOT performs)
  • Legal changes (emission related driving bans)
  • Road accidents
  • Car got stolen or vandalized.

The state of the outer body is your least concern unless the sheet-metal is rusted through. So, if you want to know if your car is still fine you also need to observe other signs:

  • Heavy rust on the underside? You might need a mechanic to take a look and interpret the results. Generally, if flaking rust comes off on the underside of the car it is very bad. If suspension parts are rusted through you need them replaced.
  • Neglected maintenance? Check the service book, missing fluid changes or overdue belt replacements are a sure sign that maintenance got neglected. The results are mixed, but the car is on thin ice.
  • Unusual sounds while running?
  • A burning "Check-Engine-Light"? There are used car dealers out there who tell the customers to not worry about that light..

Despite the severity of invisible damages it is advisable to solve the body-damages where rust is visible, plastic cannot rust so it is of no concern. If you want a professional work you need to go to the body-shop. If you don't mind the look and just want to keep the car running you can do it yourself: You need fine sandpaper, dust protection and the touch-up bottle (that you already have). Just grind out all the brown pest and apply the touch-up (read instructions). Ideally you do it as long as the rust is small, larger patches need other solutions.

  • CEL can be a "don't worry about it" issue - often it's claiming O2 sensor is bad or the cat is not performing right (I'm not sure, but the cat ones might even be timebombs in the firmware, not related to any actual sensor reading). These CELs do not require action unless you have emissions inspections. (Note: even from a position of caring about environmental impact, replacement of the vehicle likely has worse impact than these issues) Sep 13, 2019 at 14:42

in 10 years this car will be pretty much vintage! in my opinion you shouldnt worry about the pain condition and if you do simply send it down with paper down to bare metal (toremove all corrosion/rust) and spray it with primer in can that should do the trick and to keep your paint in top shape simply wax your car every season of years that is 4 times a year spend 20 minutes waxing it and car will look and feel like brand new for decades

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