Picture of repairing a rust hole in a car
My husband's car had developed a large rust hole in the fender under the gas cap. 

It needed to be fixed before the winter, and my husband hadn't had the free time to repair it himself; and I didn't want to pay the $150-200 to have it done by a body shop.

So I figured I'd do it myself and surprise him.
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Step 1: Scrape and sand

Picture of scrape and sand
The first step was to scrape off the loose paint surrounding the rust spot, and to sand off most of the rust.

I found, under the outer layer of metal, what I thought were additional layers of rusted, chipping metal, was actually dense foam padding. I scraped the rest of the metal chips off of the foam. I then taped off the area, and sprayed it with a rust treatment.

Following the directions on the can, I allowed the rust treatment to remain on overnight before I continued. (Rust treatment goes on clear, dries black.)

 On day 2, I again sanded around the area, removing paint around the hole to prepare it to be built up. For rust and paint removal, I used a 60 grit sandpaper.
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Squash2 years ago
Wow. Well, that's a little more than I would've tackled...before seeing your project! That's pretty cool and for a first-timer, great job! I need to do some body work on my car but it's fiberglass parts. I wouldn't mind doing it myself to keep from paying uber amounts just for looks. Maybe I will try it thanks to you. :)

cal_gecko - the site has a "...'be nice' comment policy. Please be positive and constructive with your comments or risk being banned from our site. " I don't believe your post was any of these...
KittyJ (author)  Squash2 years ago
Another commenter suggested a product called Kitty Hair for fiberglass. He says it works better than bondo, even on metal. You might want to check that out or mssg him. It looks neat!
Squash KittyJ2 years ago
I will check on that! Thanks. You wouldn't want a fiberglass-fix practice car would you? Lol.
KittyJ (author)  Squash2 years ago
Ah, for lack of free time.... ; )
CEDRICWARD2 years ago
Great work. Very well written and done.
You SHOULD be proud.
How many husbands have such a smart and capable wife?
More women should be willing to know how to fix things.
You can't always be sure there is a man around to do it for you.
And of course, the 'retail' market for fixing things (if you can even find anyone to really fix something) is absurdly costly.
We are a throw away society and will soon drown in our own junk.
Good for you on this well done instructable.
Let's hope it encourages more women to follow suit.
KittyJ (author)  CEDRICWARD2 years ago
Thank you, CedricWard!
cwickenkamp2 years ago
Not only is this lady's initiative, native good sense and intelligence commendable, but she did a good job with what she had to work with ... an older car.

Also, this instructable was very well written, she should be writing manuals! Excellent job.

One comment .. I think she underestimated the cost of a "professional" job by a factor of 3 to 5, depending on how "professional" the professional is. It costs soooo much money to get body work done.

ps. My husband and I owned an auto repair shop for over 20 years, and we made a lot of money fixing the repairs done by "professionals".
KittyJ (author)  cwickenkamp2 years ago
thank you so much, cwickenkamp!
that means a lot coming from someone with 20 years of experience!!
You are welcome. It's only the truth. :-)
sdereis2 years ago
It is refreshing to see how some people, like yourself takes the initiative to learn and prosper from "first time" experiences. I grew up doing what you did, trying and learning from successes and mistakes. And it has done me good for my building, repairs, jerry-rigging projects. Kudo's to you. Well done! You saved some $ and learned something that you can teach others and improve with each time you need to do it again!
KittyJ (author)  sdereis2 years ago
Thanks, sdereis. There are a lot of things a person can learn just by trying it a few times. I'm quite accomplished at painting rooms in my house now. I'm great at canning pickles. They're projects I've done dozens of times. I bet the next time I refinish a hardwood floor or a staircase, it will be faster and easier than it was the first time. The next time my husband builds a shed, it will be even better than the one we built last year. And maybe, if this car lives long enough for that patch to fail, I'll try some of the great tips people on here have offered me, and it will be even better and last longer.

But if you never try, then you never learn anything!
Larrym32 months ago

Nice post, it looks like its been a long while so how is it holding up? Super cool thing you did for your hubby! If times ever get hard maybe you could do a little patching for extra cash!

MaxineLaRue4 months ago

Your Instructable was very excellent (for me)! I'm definitely going to try it out when it warms up here a bit. Looks 'almost' fun- haha! I've got a few little spots on my beloved '99 CR-V that just keep getting bigger as the years go by. Thank you so much. Keep rockin' it, girl! Now I have some real confidence in my project.

KittyJ (author)  MaxineLaRue4 months ago
Go for it MaxineLaRue!

Great job! Can I pay you to fix mine?

This gives me inspiration to maybe try fixing my '99 Honda CRV myself, instead of worrying about cosmetics and spending over $1000 to the body shop. It would definitely be interesting! I've done plenty of crafts in my time--doesn't seem like it would be that much different.

khakidin5 months ago

Thanks for making it easy!

skupadupe5 months ago

This might be in the comment thread somewhere, but what supplies did you use, if you remember, of course. Or where did you find the supplies, if you don't remember exactly what you used.

altomic6 months ago

awesome. great job.

Jesusfreak!7 months ago

Straight-up G. You nailed it!

DB287049 months ago

Bravo KittyJ! I have seen individuals getting PAID to do this, not do as well. Very well done.

patch is still on there.

jimmygman1 year ago
you are the world's best wife ever!!! Ya gotta sister??? lol
Awesome job! I'll have to try it now that I know it can be done! Haha
davjon1 year ago
You.Are.Amazing. Tell your husband he better not let you go! Wow.
Great job, especially for a first attempt. There seems to be a lot of people say you didn't do it right, but hey... if it looks good and fixed the rust (even temporarily), why worry about it being professional? That patch will probably last longer than the car.
Fantastic job especially to have done it in a parking lot!
dderolph1 year ago
Well, I admire your courage to delve into this project. However, your use of the mesh backing was not the way it should have been used. The mesh is sticky on one side, the side with the paper backing. The reason for that is that the mesh is normally applied on the outside of the area being repaired, not manipulated to the inside in the manner you did. So, you would sand and remove all rust, sanding 1/2 to 1 inch beyond the edge of the hole. Then, you would cut a piece of backing to cover the hole, remove the paper backing from it, and press it onto the clean, bare metal around the hole. The sticking side of the mesh holds it in place so that you can then mix your filler and not have to hold the backing in place while applying filler. When using mesh backing and filler in this manner, spreading some filler on some wax paper and then laying the wax paper over the backing, especially for all the area of the hole, is a good way to control the thickness of the filler you apply. If you simply spread filler over the mesh with a blade-type applicator, you may press an excessive amount of filler right through the holes in the mesh.
vanwazltoff2 years ago
wish my rust cancer spots were this easy but they are quite a bit more difficult because of the positions they are i have 6 of them DX
mattxcox2 years ago
Goodness... where does one find such a sweet woman as you! lol. he reapir looks solid for a first time, im very impressed :D
Lowriderpr2 years ago
Nice Job!
mrlunna132 years ago
What a Lady!! Great Job!! On the car, and also for looking up for your husband!
I bet he is very proud. I know I would be.
Jesse M.
KittyJ (author)  mrlunna132 years ago
Thank you, Jesse!!
halamka2 years ago
I cut pieces from a water heater and weld them on. The entire left side might fall off. I drill holes and break the piece out. The door hinge is the most difficult. I use brown paper for a pattern. I dumped oil on 3 cars that are not registered. I put oil on everything that has rust.
doublejosh2 years ago
Be advised that Bondo doesn't last forever and is kinda the quick/cheap way to patch this type of thing. That said, it certainly looks better.
restorator2 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
KittyJ (author)  restorator2 years ago
Certainly, restorator, no one who does something for themselves with little or no experience is going to be able to replicate the quality of a professional job. That goes for just about any project.

If I had the $200 to take it to a body shop, I would. Unfortunately, a cosmetic problem on my old, scratched up car has been at the bottom of a list of things to pay for ever since the hole you see was just some bubbled paint and light rust. That's about 3 years. We have a family of five budgeted to the hilt and making do on a single income. So the choice wasn't body shop or me. The choice was me or nothing. And I don't figure another winter of snow and ice and road salt getting into that hole was going to be much better than fixing it myself.

This is instructables. If people have the money to pay someone to put in their patio, or build them a chicken coop, or retile their bathroom, there's a good chance they'd write a check and be done with it. And the quality would be better. And it would be worth the money.

But $60 and 4 or 5 hours of my time was worth it.

Try not to be so harsh on the do-it-yourselfers on a DIY website.
sksr1008 KittyJ2 years ago
aprt from the money that one saves by DIY, the satisfaction that one gets on doing a good job...nothing like it. as many of the readers have already said... you have done a great job indeed. and your step-by-step instructions along with illustrations are very easy to follow. great job!

You are handling the creepy dudes and mansplainers better than most would.

Way to be.
$150-200 sounds a bit too optimistic, doesn't it? I was quoted $1200 in DC area for fixing the dented fender (nothing serious at all) but OK, this was a body shop associated with the insurance company and they had their interest so I just took the money. However, another quote of $1500 for fixing large dents on two doors was made by some semi-official shop not interested in overpricing and I don't think I could get it done for less than $1000.
I guess, the body shop would charge the author for each position in a long itemized list, like "unmounting the gas tank filling neck" (and then "mounting the gas tank filling neck"), "applying a layer of anti-corrosive mixture", and so on. Plus, I doubt that they would paint just the spot. Most probably, they would paint the whole panel= primer+2-3 layers of paint + 2-3 layers of clear coat, and the price would be closer to $400 (I know that one can re-paint the car for $300 but this is a discount price for ~1.5 layer painting and nothing else).
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