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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, all mechanicals/electicals sorted on my latest Spider. Now onto tackling some minor bodywork (nose ding, ugly hood paint). There's one rust spot on the Spider and I've looked at several ways of approaching it.

1) Repair it myself for $75. Research it well (use some POR 15), end up stopping the rust, some filler, matching the paint as best I can - having the spot visible from closer than 5 feet at best.

2) Have a pro fix it, reshoot that rear section about a 4x2 section to the seams (and the hood while they're at it). Spend what, $500-1000? Any ideas on cost?

3) Have a pro cut out and reweld that entire section, repaint. $1500? Or repaint entire car for $5000 altogether (thus exceeding the car's value).

So, those are the options as I see it. How have you all addressed these problems in the past? I'm keeping in mind here the current value of the car, the value of the car with pro repairs vs. my own repairs, etc. This car has 110K miles. I bought it well, and plan to keep it a while as a driver that I don't mind putting miles on.

There's also a pretty ugly spare tire well to deal with, a small rust hole in it. Overall, this is a clean southern car, but not without needs. Also, I want to touch up some oxidation under the car (pic attached) - just along some seams. So I assume I'll be tackling at least part of this problem myself - which is how I like it.

Any advice on the above (particularly the rust spot), and all opinions welcome.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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My experience is that a body shop won't even pick up a paint gun for less than $500.

If it were *me* and that rust is actually as minor as it looks, I'd fix it myself and suffer a crappy paint job in that little area, then put the money in the bank for when I want to repaint the whole car in a few years.

You should pull off the taillight to get a better idea of what you're dealing with before deciding, though.
 

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Sometimes on Craigslist there are people who do this on the side for reasonable cost, worth checking. I would do #1 and look for someone at a later date if you are not happy with your work.

Kevin
 

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Check this you tube out. Do not try and put all the primer and paint on it one coat. Use 3 or 4 coats of top coat. Trash bags make good tire covers. Go back to part 2 and see how he preps. There was no rust through on the rear fender.
 

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What I would do...

I would get an estimate of best case and worst case rust repair from a body shop with a good reputation that will tackle rust (most shops won't touch rust repair) Surface rust is an indication of worse rust underneath...sometimes a lot worse. Also, your rust is in a difficult area to repair because of the shape.
Bottom line is you won't know what damage you have until you sand down to the metal. Repairing with anything other than metal, the rust will most likely return soon.
Good luck,
 

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Just keep in mind that POR15 can be tricky to paint over if you are considering this for rear valance section that will need a top coat.
 

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For that small spot, definitely do it yourself.

I suggest:
1. Remove as much trim, taillamp, etc from the area.
2. Remove rust and perimeter paint with a wire wheel in a drill or grinder.
3. Clean well with lacquer thinner & let dry
4. Spray 2x thin coats of Eastwood's "Rust Encapsulator" paint. Pricey, but great stuff. So much better, IMHO, than POR 15 for this application.
5. If necessary, fill with thin Bondo, sand, prime...repeat until super smooth.
6. Final prime with topcoat compliant primer
7. Buy & spray color coat (at least you won't have trouble matching black!)
8. Build up topcoat with 3-5 coats of clear. This may seem excessive but....
9. Wait a few weeks to allow for topcoats to fully cure.
10. Using 800 grit auto grade wet sanding paper & a sanding block, sand the topcoat until it is uniformly smooth (matte).
11. Empty & refill water bowl. Resand with wet sandpaper 1000 grit and then to 1500.
12. Buff out with auto buffing compound (I like Mequires) and a soft cloth.

If you follow these step, Murphy excepted, the rust will not return and you won't see the repair. Better yet, you'll only have perhaps $100 in the repair.

Good luck! Dickson
 

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Admitting that it's a bit hackneyed, and assuming that the car will eventually need a repaint - at which time you would do a permanent metal replacement - I have had very good experience with applying marine grade epoxy putty after step #4 above. It dries rock hard, but can be sanded. If you've removed the visible rust to just metal, encapsulated that previously rusted metal from air and water, and then added the epoxy putty, you will almost never see it return.

The other option is to place a small metal patch - adhered by panel glue - on the backside of the repair (painted well afterward, of course) to provide support for epoxy or filler.

It's not better than a full metal replacement, and is not "show quality" but for a small rust repair this has worked well for me. I used to restore 60's era Ford Mustangs, which are super rust prone, so I have tackled some rust before! :D Dickson
 

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I have used this on just about everything and it is the strongest most durable stuff out there. It can even be machined, multiply JB x 100 and this is what you get. I don't normally rave about products but this stuff is the real deal.
ITW Devcon | Maintenance & Repair | Metal Repair
 

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Agreed. I had good luck with an aluminum filler / putty called Metal2Metal.

Unlike Bondo, it does not absorb water, and with the high metal content expands and contracts at a closer rate to the surrounding steel.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Wow, thanks everyone for the responses. Love the do-it-yourself attitude. I've never dealt with rust on an S4 I've owned, but alas these cars are 21 years old and the occasional rust spot now seems par for the course.

Lots of info to digest here. I think I will go with option 1 for now - the spot is very small and I think that it might only take a few hours of work over several days to do it. I have all the stuff to do it, besides the special rust products and Bondo, etc. I'll need to do some reading up. Really, the paint on this car is pretty good (could use a good buff) so I would like the results to be pretty nice, or at least not noticeable.

Dickson - thanks much for your detailed list. That seems like sound information - is 1500 grit high enough? Even with 2000 grit I feel like I don't get the gloss I'm looking for.

My talents, I must admit, are not in finishing and buffing. It's a fine art in some ways, and I've just never had much luck or patience with it. But I'm always willing to give it a shot. My hood needs a good buff. I've sanded it down to 2000 grit, but I think I need to get through several grades of compound, swirl remover, fine cleaner, and wax to get the gloss to match up with the rest of the paint.

Anyway - keep the replies coming. Meanwhile I'll start a plan of attack and start assembling products - I'll look at all the ones suggested. I will post back on progress. I've got a rusty spare tire well to deal with too. And the seams under the car - I'd like those to look a little nicer.
 

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From the pic you showed, I'd say that rust spot is just the tip of the iceberg. There's rarely such a thing as a "little rust spot". By the time it has shown up as a bubble through the paint, it's much more widespread especially where there are joints and seams. My advice would be to try the home fix for the short term. However, I suspect if/when a competent body shop examines the car it will be a significant rust repair job.
 

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2000 wet/dry should buff out perfectly smooth with some good polishing compound and a buffing wheel.
and X a million on the rust you see just being the tip of the iceberg. I'd stay away from bondo on a repair like that. Fix the smallest area possible so you don't end up having to deal with the rest of the iceberg and treat what you don't fix with a good rust treatment such as Eastwood rust encapsulator. Good luck, nice car!
 

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If this repair was in the middle of the hood, I'd say to sand as high at 2000 grit...but as it's on a curved panel, I think that you can get away with 1500...but hey, it won't hurt to go to 2000 if you want! Good luck! Dickson
 

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after you finish the repair, sand it down, and paint it you can get a great shine with a dremmel buffer and some compound.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Gigem/Dickson - thanks much - I'll hit it with some 2000 grit wet sandpaper when all is done. Need an excuse to break out the new Dremel too.

As far as how deep the rust is, I've seen the inside trunk panels - looks stellar. However, I don't know about that one back panel. I'll be in rust denial until I see it, but yes, rust on the surface is usually a sign of deeper issues. I figure at worst I get a new rear panel down the road - might be five years or more before a repaint is needed.

Anyway, I'll really be honing my detailing skillz here pretty soon. It's amazing how many products out there just make it hard to get down to the facts. Just looking around at waxes, the marketing is so crazy you don't know what to make of it. I just wish there was one brand, with 5 different levels of gloss, like sandpaper. But no, they have to claim that heavy duty polishing compound "brings out a rich, lustrous finish". Egads. If you're polishing a scale encrusted, tarnished aluminum john boat, sure.

So I do appreciate hearing about products that work, and how others have had success. Ok so:

1) Eastwood Rust Encapsulator

What else is tried and proven? People are saying boo to Bondo - so then what do I use? Realistically?
 

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People are saying boo to Bondo - so then what do I use? Realistically?
Bondo is used on white Spiders not Black Spiders but there's is a couple of guys in Kentucky that sware by the stuff both own slow white Spiders. :D
 
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