Ridding the Jeep Wrangler of RustOctober 6th, 2010 by Erin
We all know what can happen when water meets metal: rust. Living in the extremely wet climate of Seattle, my 1992 Jeep Wrangler has its fair share, inside and out. Getting rid of rust on the inside of your vehicle is a relatively simple project that doesn’t require any particular technical skill or know-how. With the right tools and a helping hand, it can probably be completed in a single weekend.
I first tackled the tub – specifically, the rear passenger/cargo area. First, I took out the rear passenger seat and the corresponding brackets that were bolted to the tub. Removing the carpet was the quickest and easiest part of the whole process, as the carpeting was not attached beyond Velcro tack strips in various places. I used a small amount of acetone to remove the adhesive from the Velcro strips that were stuck to the metal itself. Under the carpet was the original factory paint and what looked like a poorly applied bed liner that was peeling and flaking. I used a stiff wire brush to remove the worst of the blistered paint, rust, and flaking bed liner. In some of the smaller, strangely angled areas I had to sand down the rust by hand, but for the vast majority of the project I used an electric sander with 60- or 80-grit sandpaper. A few areas of the tub were badly pitted by the rust and required an angle grinder. I made sure to remove all of the rust I found, so as not to have this same problem again in the future.
If your vehicle has extensive rust and is badly decayed, you may need to use a body filler (like Bondo) to repair deeply pitted and rotted areas of metal, which once dry can be sanded and smoothed to shape and then treated the same way as the non-corroded metal surrounding. Thankfully, nothing in the tub of my Wrangler was extensively rotted, so simple sanding and grinding took care of it.
Once I had removed most of the paint and gotten down to bare metal, I used some finer grit sandpaper (100 to 120) and went over the whole area, just to smooth things out and make sure I had removed the worst of the flaking paint and bed liner. After the final sanding, I gave the tub a quick wipe down with more acetone and checked the area again for rust spots I may have missed. I did not deem it necessary to completely strip all of the paint from the cargo area of the Wrangler, as I plan on eventually covering the entire tub with a Durabak polyurethane truck bed liner. Instead, I lightly sanded and scuffed up the surface of the factory paint in the rust-free areas so the primer would have a nice surface to adhere to.
Masking off the areas I did not want to paint was probably the most tedious and time-consuming part of the whole project. If you are impatient like me, you may be tempted to rush this job, but the end result is worth putting in the time and effort.
I applied several thin coats of Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Primer in flat black until the bed was fully covered and no metal or factory paint showed through. I let the paint sit and dry overnight, and the next day I took on the front area of the tub.
The process was nearly identical to the back. First, I removed the seats and seat brackets, then the carpet, and finally all of the drain plugs, random bolts, and other components. Road dust, sand, silt, and other grit covered the front of the tub. Before sanding, I had to scrub out the interior and wait for the newly clean metal to dry. The rust in the front area was nowhere near as invasive as it was in the rear, so the sanding job went quickly and no grinder was needed. Masking off the front was a bit more difficult than masking the back, but with help I was able to get it done fairly quickly. Again, I applied several thin coats of the spray rust primer and then let the whole thing sit overnight.
About the Author: Erin
My name is Erin Taylor and I'm a 29-and-14-month-old chick who lives in Seattle. For my birthday last year I bought a 1992 Jeep Wrangler Islander and I love her! She is my daily driver, so the updates and mods I install can't be too crazy. I do the basic maintenance myself along with simple repairs. I'm currently working on removing the rust from the tub and then I plan on using HERCULINER or DuraCoat to protect from the elements (and my dog). The 4 Wheel Parts store in Lynnwood, Washington is my savior. I spend a lot of time (and money!) up there, and the guys are so helpful. One day a few months ago, I was shopping around for some new seat covers. The store was super busy, so my sales guy asked one of the techs in the back to give me a hand. I'd never seen him before, but he recognized me! "You really love your Jeep, don't you?" he asked me. "Um, yeah…how can you tell?" "Oh, you're just in here all the time!"