Ridding the Jeep Wrangler of Rust

October 6th, 2010 by admin

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.

Grinding away the worst areas of rust and decay took a delicate touch- don't get too overzealous with the grinder!

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.

The rear of the jeep, all sanded smooth and rust-free. This is the final product after several coats of flat black primer.

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.


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