Stopping Rust on a Rambler

How to Stop Rust on a Car


I’m trying to revive a 1971 Rambler Rogue. This car was sprayed twice and every time the rust pulls through the paintwork. I started to do it myself and removed all the paint and took the car down to metal. I’ve used acids to remove the rust but it just comes back again, because I leave the car for a while to attend to other things. This job is time consuming but I want to do it properly.


Thanks for the question, although it left me a little confused! When I first read your question it caught my attention … the last year AMC built the Rambler was in 1969, and the Rouge was only built from 1966-69. In 1969 a high-performance version of the Rouge was offered under the name of SC/Rambler.

It was common for U.S. auto manufacturers to sell their tooling in foreign countries where they continued production, but my records indicate that Mexico stopped manufacturing Ramblers in 1970. Perhaps you can give me a little more insight into your unique ride?

Let’s move to the meat of your question. It’s important to realize that as soon as you strip steel bare, it begins to rust. How fast it rusts depends on the conditions around it. High humidity, salts left by human touch, residue left by paint strippers, all can hasten the rusting process. Personally I do not like the use of acids to remove rust as the fumes are dangerous, it can harden the metal making it more brittle, and great care must be taken to ensure all residual acid is removed and neutralized.

My preferred method of rust removal is mechanical in the use of blasting media or abrasive wheels. One of my favorites is the 3M Paint and Rust removal disc, which is available at many auto parts or home improvement stores. It cleans up rust quickly, removes paint and leaves the surface ready to be primed.

Having stripped many cars down to bare steel, I can tell you, there are two options. Either finish stripping the car quickly or take steps to protect the metal that is exposed. When I have a car that will remain in bare metal for an extended time, I wipe down the entire bare metal surface with a rag soaked in WD40 or ATF. The oil will prevent the metal from rusting, and when you are ready to resume work on the car simply remove the oil residue with a quick wipe of mineral spirits.

When it comes time to primer, simply clean off the oils, give the body a quick once over with the paint and rust removal disc, clean the surface again and prime.

Wrench Safe,


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8 Responses to “Stopping Rust on a Rambler”
  1. John

    Another option is to use PlanetSafe AIM especially if you are using an oil based paint. AIM will take off the rust and corrosion but unlike the acid products you do not have to completely remove it. Once the rust is gone just wipe off the carrier and you can paint right over top of AIM. The active component in AIM forms an ionic bond to metal and will continue to arrest rust providing much longer lasting protection. If you do want to wash it completely off before painting just use a phosphate based soap…usually dish detergent will easily clean AIM off of any surface. It is non-toxic and non-hazardous with virtually no smell. Check out this video from Gulf Copper. They used AIM to strip rust off of hardened ship building steel plates.

  2. phillip timpson
    phillip timpson

    after you sand down and put aside … prime the spots with PPG . DP PRIMER ….you can leave the car outside for a year and it should not ever rust …if you just use regular prime your wasting your tim and money

  3. randy

    Hi! I like the idea of using automatic transmission fluid to prevent rust on sheet metal! I have used a solvent sprayer with a compressor to put a mix of diesel and ATF on the chassis of a stored vehicle and it stopped the rusting process from destroying good metal on the bottom of the car. The diesel creeps into very small crevices and stops the rust. As for the WD 40 tip to prevent rust… obviously the person recommending this as a rust preventer between bodywork sessions has NOT painted a vehicle. The WD 40 contains silicones which are difficult to clean from a car body surface, and if you don’t know what fisheyes are, you will when you start painting or priming!!!!!! Randy

  4. Ryan Mifflin
    Ryan Mifflin

    One thing I don’t hear much about is metal prep – I’m talking about a chemical treatment between dissolving rust and spraying primer. I’ve seen chemicals that can dissolve rust, and they do indeed work, but according to the directions you’re supposed to rinse off the metal with water. That leaves an obvious connundrum. What at lot of those products don’t have is a secondary treatment, which is very necessary. The only manufacturer that offers the secondary treatment is Blue Lightning. They have a chemical rust dissolver which is really effective, but you NEED to buy the ‘Metal Prep’ solution – it stops the flash rusting immediately. DuPont also offers a terrific chemical called ‘Kwik Prep 244S’. I think that what you’re experiencing are chemicals that are leeching through paint, developing small bubbles of chemicals trapped underneath, like a pimple, which is happening when the dissolving chemicals seep into microscopic pores and pin holes in the metal, but are not rinsed away or neutralized with water.

  5. harold

    I presume you mean surface rust on the exterior or is the rust coming back in the same place each time if so its probably coming from the inside through some pin holes that you cant see. On the outside if its surface rust from sitting each time it should not be to hard to clean off if you have a compressor you can get a hand held spot sand blaster that recycles its sand and next to no dust. Use a rust stabilizer on it where required (read the instructions and follow them) Make your first coat of primer a zinc chromate type, you don’t sand that you prime over it. If its going to be exposed for a while you can get zinc based primer in a spray can and just wash the area off with some wax and grease remover you can get from your local jobber and spray the a bit on each spot as you finish working on it. Hope this is of some help good luck.

  6. Jeff

    There is also a metal prep called Pickle-X 20 (not an acid) that you can use after stripping/grinding to address any residual rust left in hard to reach areas or pits before priming. It’s not cheap but has won several green awards and has been featured on the TRUCKS! cable show. It will provide long lasting rust protection, but the car, panels, etc. have to be inside. The company claims zero paint failures if applied exactly as directed.

  7. Sherril Stolworthy
    Sherril Stolworthy

    Buy some POR15 it works great but you must follow the directions, it comes in different sizes so get enough the first time.