Rust is unquestionably one of the biggest rivals to your car’s exterior — especially if you own an older car. Because of that, we’ve researched to find you the best rust converters that money can buy. Rust can simply come with time or as an unwanted side effect when damage to a car’s exterior is left untreated. Whenever there’s exposed metal on a vehicle, that metal will eventually rust.
Whether you’re restoring a vintage car or wanting to prevent the spread of rust and corrosion on your current vehicle, a rust converter will save you both time and money. Best of all, using a rust converter is not a difficult process if you acquire one of the best rust converters on the market and know the methods for proper application.
Types Of Rust Converters
Rust converter comes in three forms — liquid, spray, and gel. By a long-shot, liquid rust converter is the most common. Depending on the brand and consistency of the liquid, the application process will vary. Typically, you’ll either paint, rub, submerge, or spray the liquid.
Rust converters also come in spray form in an aerosol can. Overall, an aerosol rust converter is best for smaller projects. Finally, rust converter can come in gel form. Usually, the gel is painted onto the rusted surface. It is important to note that gel rust converters cannot be used in spray guns because of the thickness of the formulas.
Across all types of rust converters, it is common for some of the best rust converts to also include a dual-purpose metal primer. With that, after properly applying the converter/primer combination, you’ll have prepped the surface to paint.
The 10 Best Rust Converters On The Market Today
Here at AutoWise, we’ve scoured the web to find you the best rust converters out there. In addition, we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions surrounding rust converters. It’s important to note that these highlighted items are rust converters and not rust removers.
While there are numerous options, we hope this guide will help you find the product needed for your DIY project. Using the best rust converters and correct application technique, your car will be restored in no time.
Best Overall Choice
1. Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter & Metal Primer
The Corroseal Rust Converter is a water-based liquid that also acts as a metal primer. Notably, it is non-flammable, non-hazardous, and does not have any unpleasant odors. You can easily apply this to your vehicle using a brush, roller, or your own spray bottle. When you finish applying the product on the rust, it’s an easy clean-up with just soap and water.
Along with automotive use, you can also use this converter and primer on boats, household items, and industrial items. Depending on the scale of your project, you can purchase Corroseal in quantities ranging from one quart to five gallons. Be sure to remove large pieces of rust, oil, and dirt using sandpaper or a wire brush prior to use. Once the Corroseal dries on your vehicle, the area is primed and ready to be painted.
When it comes to the best rust converters that are also extremely user-friendly, Rust-Oleum has got you covered. The Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer is an aerosol spray that quickly converts rust to a paintable surface. It is important to note that this rust converter has a flat-black color. With the spray canister, you can angle it onto nearly any surface for easy application.
Along with being a rust converter, this spray also protects your vehicle from future rust. Be sure to remove excess rust using sandpaper or a wire brush before you spray this on the affected area. Rust-Oleum recommends spraying in a back and forth motion, covering the entire area. After 24 hours of drying, you can paint on top of this coat to fully protect your car from future damage due to rust.
Reviewers recommended spraying an additional primer over the converter prior to painting the area. It’s important to note that this is spray not heat-resistant. Since it is an aerosol spray, we recommend using protective goggles and a mask when applying it.
You can use this liquid rust converter on any kind of metal. The MRO Chem Black Star converts rust into a corrosion-resistant polymer resin coating, protecting and sealing the area so that it doesn’t re-oxidize. In addition to serving as a converter, this product also serves as a metal primer. With that, 24 hours after application, you can apply a top coat of paint right onto the area.
In addition to using this rust converter on a car, you can also use it on other metal objects prone to rusting such as fences, trailers, and even roofing. All you have to do is spray, roll, or brush this product onto the affected area. Once the rust becomes black, you know this converter has worked its magic. If you don’t plan on repainting the surface, there’s no need to clean the area. If you do plan on applying paint, use soap and water to wash the surface off before applying a topcoat.
The VHT Rust Converter uniquely sprays on clear for an easy application. Once it comes in contact with rusting metal, it turns to black. This black coating converts the current rust into a black protective coating while also preventing future rust from forming. VHT advertises this product as being the best possible product for rocker panels and paint blisters. With that being said, it is compatible with all metal surfaces.
Once you spray the converter, you can sand it smooth and apply a topcoat after 24 hours. You can either opt to purchase this by the single can or in a pack of six depending on the size of your project. Because this is an aerosol spray, it is important to wear protective clothing including gloves, long clothing, eye gear, and a mask while spraying the converter. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area and try not to spray with the area in direct sunlight.
Recently, rust converter in a gel-form has become more common. Because of its consistency, a gel rust converter is easy to apply and won’t spread onto surfaces where it is not wanted. The Jenolite Rust Converter comes in multiple sizes — eight ounces, one pint, one quart, and one gallon. We recommend using sandpaper or a wire brush to remove large pieces of rust before applying the gel. Once applied, the color will change from clear to a dark gray color.
When you use this converter, there is no need to follow it up with a primer. This formula is fast-acting, able to convert rust in less than fifteen minutes. Once the metal surface is ready to be painted, use either a water-based or oil-based paint. Unlike most rust converters that require 24 hours of dry time prior to painting, this one only requires three hours.
And while this factual tidbit does not make or break our recommendation of this product, we think it’s pretty fascinating that Jenolite has been used on Big Ben in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Coming in a one-gallon container, the FDC Rust Converter Ultra requires no dilution and comes ready to use. One gallon covers around 500 square-feet. FDC even says that with this formula, there’s no need to prep the area through sandblasting, grinding, or scraping prior to use. With that, it is still recommended to remove large rust particles with a wire brush.
This rust converter is a water-based treatment that is non-toxic, scent-free, and non-flammable. In addition to converting rust into a sealed, paintable area, this product also forms a protective barrier to prevent future rust and corrosion. FDC recommends applying two coats with a roller, pump sprayer, or a brush. After that, it is recommended to wait 48 hours before applying an oil-based paint on top of the area.
AdCoat is a professional strength, water-based liquid rust converter that is non-flammable, non-corrosive, and eco-friendly. With just one-gallon of the converter, you can use a paintbrush to paint 200 square feet. In addition to automotive restoration, you can also achieve great results using this rust converter and primer for construction, household, or farming projects.
Once applied, AdCoat converts rust into a primed and paintable surface. When applying this converter, it will be white. After it’s done the job, the converter dries black. After 24 hours, you can go ahead and add a top coat to have a brand new looking ride. To see AdCoat’s recommended application process, you can view a user-friendly video on the process.
Coming in a convenient spray bottle, this rust converter from Rust Kutter couldn’t be easier to apply. First, scrape loose paint and large pieces of the rust off of the surface with a wire brush. Then, shake the bottle and spray on the Rust Kutter. After that, you just have to let it dry on its own for 24 hours and rinse the area with water.
Because this product does not contain metal primer, you may want to apply primer before applying the main coat of paint. Rust Kutter is suitable for exterior or interior surfaces beyond just the exterior of your car. It is very important (as always) to wear protective gloves along with other protective gear when using this spray bottle.
When using this rust converter from Gempler’s, there’s no need to pull out the heavy machinery. Simply remove large rust pieces with a wire brush and then apply this liquid rust converter with a paintbrush or sponge. After 48 hours, you can paint right over the top of this converter-primer combo using oil-based paint.
Because this product is non-flammable and eco-friendly, it is very easy to clean up and apply. The product comes in a one-quart size that can cover up to 125 square feet of smooth surfaces. Notably, this rust converter is best served for use with steel or iron surfaces.
The Xion Lab 2-In-1 Rust Converter & Primer is the real deal. Coming in either a gallon or a pint, you can dilute this product with up to 20% water. It is a water-based liquid formula that can be applied to either dry or damp surfaces. Xion Lab recommends applying this product with a spray gun.
While most rust converters require an oil-based topcoat, this product can accept all types of topcoats including water-based, oil-based, and enamels. Once the converter dries for 24 hours, remove any remaining residue with water and then apply your topcoat. If for any reason you aren’t fully satisfied, Xion Lab will give you a full refund with no questions asked.
Features To Look For To Find The Best Rust Converters
When looking for the best rust converter to fit your project, there are several factors to consider. First, you’ll want to note the drying time. While it is usually recommended to let the converter dry for 24 to 48 hours, some rust converters only require a few hours before you can apply a metal primer or topcoat to the area. Next, consider the ingredients and flammability. Some rust converters are eco-friendly and non-toxic while others use phosphoric acid. Depending on the ingredients and flammability, you will want to take extra precautions throughout the prep, application, and clean-up.
Some rust converters will have added protection and additional metal primer in the formula. Depending on your project, you may or may not want those additions. Along with these factors, you’ll want to consider the ease of application. This includes the items required to apply the converter and the size of the affected area. With that being said, pay attention to the amount of rust converter you purchase. You will want to have enough product to cover the entire corroded area.
Practice Preventative Measures To Avoid Rust
The best way to avoid rust on your vehicle is by doing what you can to prevent and reduce the spread of rust. Of course, that is not always possible due to many circumstances. One way you can prevent rust is to take care of scratches on your car right when you see them. By using car scratch remover for shallower scratches or touching up car paint for deeper scratches, you can prevent any further corrosion and fully remove surface scratches before they turn into anything larger or more serious.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I remove rust with a rust converter?
The application process using the best rust converters will vary depending on the type of rust converter (spray, gel, or liquid) and where you are applying it.
Regardless of the size of the project, you should wear gloves no matter what. Some rust converters use phosphoric acid which is a hazardous substance. Aerosols can also be dangerous if inhaled. With that, you should wear a mask and protective goggles when working with spray.
To use a rust converter, begin by removing loose debris from the affected area. This can be achieved with either a wire brush or varying grit of sandpaper. The prep work will highly depend on the severity and volume of the rust.
Once the area is prepped, apply the rust converter. You may use a paintbrush, a roller, or a sprayer depending on the type of rust converter you are using.
Generally, the converter will take around 24 hours to dry once applied. When the treatment is done, you can usually clean up the area using soap and water. Then, you may continue the restoration by using a metal primer or topcoat. Sometimes, rust converters also act as metal primers, so the primer step is not always needed.
Read the specific directions for use on the rust converter you purchase. Be aware of the ingredients and flammability of the product.
How does rust converter work?
Rust converters have an active ingredient that causes a chemical reaction with the rust. It first reacts with rust to convert it to a darker, more stable material. Then, additional active ingredients in the formula serve as a protectant against future corrosion.
Can I paint over rust converter?
Yes, you can! Because of the chemical reaction that occurs as a result of using a rust converter, you can then paint over the affected area. This conceals the area and further protects the vehicle from any more rust.
What is the difference between a rust converter and a rust remover?
Rust removers will fully remove rust and are much more abrasive. Rust converters, however, actually chemically change the red rust into a substance that can then be easily painted over. Rust converters leave a barrier layer behind that also prevents future corrosion.
Is rust converter non-toxic?
Rust converter is not always non-toxic. Often, it contains phosphoric acid. To be certain you are purchasing a non-toxic rust converter, check the FDC ratings, and see if the rust converter is advertised as being eco-friendly.
Regardless, you should work in a ventilated space, avoiding getting the rust converter anywhere except for the desired area on the car, and wear protective clothing such as gloves, long clothing, protective eyewear, and a mask.
Aside from cars, what else can I use rust converter on?
Rust converters can essentially be used on any metal item affected by rust. For instance, you can use it to convert rust on antiques, farm equipment, and other metal items. With that, be sure to read all of the directions and warnings on the particular rust converter you purchase. And test the converter on a small surface before treating the entire affected area.
Joybeth Sullivan is an accomplished content creator. She does it all as a writer, photographer, and videographer. Her work has been published in local and international outlets. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a dual-degree in English & Film. Today, she is based out of Denver, CO. When she isn't writing, you can find her on long drives in the mountains with her husky, Newman, riding shotgun.