What is the estimated cost of car rust repair?

Car rust repair cost estimate

Published on Friday, 27 August 2021 at 00:00

What is the estimated cost of car rust repair?

Matilda Douglas-Henry


Although car rust is typically caused by a barrage of moisture—from, say, prolonged exposure to snow or rain—even Australia’s driest and hottest climates can cause your vehicle to rust. High temperatures lead to higher rates of corrosion, and natural wear and tear/the age and stage of the car will create problems with rust down the road. When your car is an older model, it’s all the more important to have it serviced for rust repairs as soon as possible. In this article we will talk about the estimated cost of car rust repair, covering:

  1. What causes car rust, and when to know whether it needs repairs
  2. The different types of car rust repairs
  3. The estimated cost of car rust repair
  4. How to save costs on car rust repair


Why is my car rusting?

Most modern vehicles are fitted with complex and sturdy anti-rust measures, like clear-coat finishes that protect the paint job as well as the panels, but there are still a variety of circumstances that could cause your car to rust. 

As mentioned in the introduction, exposure to extreme elements, the age of the vehicle, and natural wear and tear are significant contributing factors to car rust. Driving style may also play a role: if you spend a lot of time off-road—especially going through puddles—there is greater corrosion risk[1].

There are a few warning signs to look out for that can tell you whether or not your car has issues with rust. Bubbles under the paint are red flags that the paint and panel have split from water getting in between them. Puddles in/around the carpet or boot suggests the metal underneath has rusted. Irregular paint work might mean that prior rust repairs have been done in the past that were not properly sealed.

Small rust spots are common on used vehicles, and they might seem relatively insignificant upon initial inspection. Pieces of debris—like gravel and other common road obstructions—and minor scratches can all chip a car’s paint and create rust once exposed to the elements. When these are left unattended, however, the rusting process will aggressively continue, which can create holes in car parts and, in the most extreme cases, cause entire panels to collapse.

Considering how inexpensive those smaller rust spots are to repair, DingGo recommends having any potential sign of rust assessed by a technician at first notice. Not only are harsher rust issues much more costly to repair; the serious structural damage to the vehicle compromises you and your passengers’ safety[2].


What are the different types of car rust repairs?  

There are three different types of rust. Depending on which one your vehicle has, the repairs will vary greatly in terms of complexity and cost.

Surface rust affects the top layer of your car, i.e. a small rust spot caused by a dent or scratch. Catching rust damage at this stage is ideal, as it’s highly unlikely that it’s spread beyond that point. Repairing surface rust is much like paint repair. (Refer to our “Car paint repair cost” article for more details on this.) Sandpaper or a wire wheel or brush will be used to cut through the paint and corrosion, and application of a rust converter will shut down the oxidation process.

Scale rust occurs when surface rust is left unattended, causing the panels to start corroding. Certain driving conditions, particularly salty ones, can accelerate the corrosion process. In Australia we would rarely, if ever, have to deal with driving on salt-covered roads because of ice, but salty ocean air can create similar issues. Penetrating rust is the most damaging form of rust that can affect your car. As its name suggests, this is when the rust has spread, impacting internal structures.

If your car has either scale or penetrating rust, more serious repairs will need to be carried out. The affected area will be cut out from the vehicle, rust treated, and then new metal will be welded in place. Other parts of the car might need to be removed too—say, the windscreen—depending on the location/severity of the rusted area.


What is the estimated cost of car rust repair?

The estimated cost of car rust repair plays out similarly to paint repair: the cost will vary depending on the scale, location, and severity of the damage. However, unlike paint repair, rust repairs are generally quite an involved process, so the base level cost is higher than that of paint repair.

Surface rust repairs might cost a few hundred dollars—the higher range is an estimated $650—but full rust removal can cost thousands, $3,000 on average. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to replace instead of repair the vehicle, especially because rust often affects older cars at a higher rate[3].


How can I save costs on car rust repair?

Unfortunately, if your car needs rust repairs there is not much you can do to cut costs. It’s crucial to pay up to ensure your vehicle has been thoroughly expunged of its rust and prevent it happening in the future.

So the best way to save costs on car rust repair is to prevent rust from ever damaging your car in the first place! There are actually a ton of preventative measures you can put in place to protect your vehicle from rust. These include waxing and washing your car regularly—especially if you anticipate driving in extreme weather conditions—using anti-rust spray, and keeping your car’s interior dry[4].



While car rust is a daunting and, quite frankly, scary thing to encounter on your vehicle, we’re here to help. Use DingGo today to find the best technician near you.


[1] https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/how-to/car-rust-guide-how-to-remove-and-prevent-it/

[2] https://www.carfax.com/blog/inspecting-rusted-cars

[3] https://www.autoguru.com.au/repairs/rust-repair

[4] https://www.motorbiscuit.com/top-tips-to-protect-your-car-from-rusting/

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