LAST UPDATED: May 10, 2019
Best Rust Converters & Removers: Options for Corrosion Protection
Keep your vehicle corrosion-free with these top rust converters and removers
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON May 10, 2019
Over time, everything will deteriorate in one form or another. When it comes to your car, corrosion is your worst enemy. Luckily, there are products to protect and remove rust from your car’s vulnerable pieces. Each project is unique, so making an informed decision about what product you need is crucial. Here's our guide to help you find the best rust converter & remover.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Rust Converter & Remover
- Save time. If you're doing bodywork or trying to salvage a corroded car part, your alternative to chemical removal is usually grinding the rust off. This is not only a more time-consuming process, but you also risk damaging the original piece.
- Built-in primer. Rust converters also double as a metal primer for the metal parts you're restoring. This means that applying the converter will save your materials from spreading corrosion and any further damage it could cause.
- Save money. If your parts or tools are saved from future corrosion, then they'll have a longer life span. This not only keeps your pieces in good working condition but will ultimately save you in replacement costs.
- Restoration. Restoring antique cars is one of the best do-it-yourself projects. When you’re dealing with old parts, you're almost guaranteed to find rust and corrosion. Showcasing the rust converter before and after pictures can be a great addition to show off your restoration work.
Types of Rust Converter & Remover
The most common type of rust converter and rust remover is liquid. While the individual products will have varying thicknesses, the application process is generally the same. After some prep work, the chemical can be painted on, submerged, or sprayed on with your own spray gun. The best and easiest method is going to depend on your specific project.
Rust converter also comes in a gel form. These products are thicker than the liquid removers, so they cannot be used with sprayers. One benefit they have over liquid is that you don’t have to worry about the product dripping if applied heavily. The gel can be painted or rolled onto the metal surface and allowed to dry for best results.
While some of the liquid removers can be used with a spray gun, some rust removing products come as an aerosol spray. Typically, this can be a faster application process. However, be aware that it might be hard to use a spray can for extensive restoration projects due to their smaller quantities.
Evapo-Rust is a chemical company headquartered in Arizona. It has a whole line of metal restoration products. This line includes the original Rust Remover and a GEL Rust Remover. The company is also notable for its customer-friendly website featuring user testimonials and how-to videos.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable names in corrosion protection, Rust-Oleum was founded in 1921. Its founder was a boat captain who merely wanted to keep his ship running and noticed fish oil stopped the rust from spreading. He then went on to produce this solution for consumers and growing the company by developing the Automotive 248658 10.25-Ounce Rust Reformer Spray.
VHT is a Sherwin-Williams brand of high-performance paints and treatments. While the parent company was founded in Cleveland in 1866, VHT is a spinoff of the paint division Dupli-Color, which was started in 1938. It makes a very popular aerosol rust converter with its VHT SP229.
Rust Converter & Remover Pricing
- Under $15: The least expensive option is usually rust remover sprays. These are typically between 10 and 32 ounces and useful for small areas of corrosion and surface rust.
- $15 to $30: At this price point, there are two different types of products you'll see. The first is full gallons of rust remover. The second is smaller containers and spray bottles of rust converter.
- Over $30: At the highest prices, you’ll generally find full gallons of rust converter products. Rust converter is typically more expensive; only larger quantities should cost over $30.
Ease of Use
Your average rust treatment can be applied by brushing or spraying it onto the affected metal surface. It’s best to consider the application methods that a product requires and which approach will help you complete your project. The amount of rust, whether or not the corroded piece can be easily removed, and how large the affected area is will help determine the best application method for you.
The corrosion of metals is a chemical reaction; often another chemical reaction is required to convert rust. While each brand has its own way of formulating a good rust treatment, this also means each one comes with its own potentially volatile compounds, like phosphoric acid. It’s important to know whether or not a rust converter is safe to touch so you can keep yourself safe while using it. It’s also vital to understand how to dispose of and clean up these chemicals.
Whether you're brushing on liquid rust converter or using an aerosol can to get rid of corrosion, it all can make a mess. Before you use any corrosion removing products, you'll want to know what to expect in terms of keeping your workspace clean. Some of the best chemical rust removers will only require soap and water to clean up.
- Future Protection: The last thing you want to deal with after riding a part of rust is having it corrode again. Luckily, a lot of great rust converters add a protective layer to keep the part from further corrosion. If you plan on painting or priming the piece, then the added protection may not be necessary. Be aware of what the best plan of attack is for your metal pieces.
- Drying Time: Depending on your project, the amount of time a rust converter takes to give you the best results may be a determining factor. On average, rust removal products will suggest a day or two in order to free your part from corrosion completely. Some advertise that they only require a couple of hours to cure before you can sand or paint over them.
- Flammability: Keep in mind the environment you’ll keep the rust remover in, both for storage and during application. With aerosol cans and some liquid rust converters, keeping them in a warm storage space is a fire hazard. Also, if you're removing rust from a part of your vehicle where you need to weld, make sure you're using a non-flammable solution.
Best Rust Converter & Remover Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Corroseal is widely regarded as the best rust converter paint and metal primer available today. Corroseal is easy to apply with a one-step process of using a paintbrush or a roller. Though it doesn't come in a spray bottle, if you have your own, it is thin enough to use as a spray.
Corroseal's superior performance is most noticeable when it comes to the number of coats needed. While most rust converters need at least two coats, Corroseal can usually finish a job with just one. This also means you need less product per job, so one gallon should last longer than the competitors.
An additional highlight with this product is that it has a water-based formula. This helps make it incredibly safe for use, Corroseal also guarantees that it's non-flammable and non-corrosive. While still being an industrial strength product, it is easy to clean up with just soap and water.
Although Corroseal is one of the best rust neutralizers, it is not perfect. To achieve the best results, this product does require sanding where some products don't require prep work at all. Corroseal is also a bit more expensive than other options.
Spray this rust remover on any rusty surface and it instantly bonds with the scales to weaken them and make it easier to brush them off. It also stops the rust from spreading to other uncontaminated parts. Just as with most rust treatment formulations, this also forms a protective primer layer that can be painted over.
It comes in an aerosol bottle featuring any-angle spray technology, which lets you spray it in a back and forth motion, with overlapping strokes, or while the bottle is upside down. It dries in about 40 minutes and you can paint over the treated surface after 24 hours.
While it may be fairly easy to use, you need to constantly shake the bottle for the formula to spray out evenly and work properly. Additionally, you need more than a 10-ounce bottle for a full bodywork.
This honorable mention for corrosion removal is made by VHT. VHT's rust converter is very user-friendly: The spray can is used to apply the product, only needing to cover the corroded areas. The solution sprays on clear, then turns black once dried.
The spray is formulated to protect areas from further corrosion. Once dried, this rust converter can be sanded and painted over. This makes it ideal for autobody use, especially when repairing problem spots like wheel wells and truck beds.
The product is very versatile in terms of the materials it is compatible with. It can be applied like a metal primer, fiberglass, and body filler. VHT is also relatively budget-friendly. Even though it's a rust converter, it's roughly the same price as most rust removers, while still retaining the benefits of being a converter.
Though very easy to use, this product only comes in a spray can. So, if you're looking for a liquid rust converter, this isn't your best option. Also, compared to the other products on this list, VHT is a more aggressive and toxic substance.
For customers who want a non-toxic and eco-friendly product, Evapo-Rust is the best rust removal product. While this product is a rust remover and not a rust converter, it has many unique qualities that make it an excellent option for certain customers.
The safety of this product cannot be overstated. While a lot of removers use phosphoric acid, this water-based formula allows it to be non-toxic, non-flammable, eco-friendly, and completely biodegradable. Users can apply Evapo-Rust to cookware, utensils, and grill grates without worrying about harmful effects later on.
Even more impressive is that this safe formula will not warp or damage any plastic, rubber, or painted parts. This is useful when it comes to storing for later use. While most rust converters will only activate once (when being applied), this formula can be used repeatedly.
Along with all of its positive attributes, Evapo-Rust comes with some negatives. While you don't need to scrub the metal surface to take off the rust, this remover does require prep work to the corroded substrate. The rust remover does not protect parts from future corrosion, meaning that piece will rust again if not protected. Also, this remover works best when the rusted item can be submerged in the formula, making it less than ideal for larger projects.
FDC offers one of the best formulas for eliminating recurring rust on iron surfaces. It comes ready to use and one gallon is enough to cover about 500 square feet of a non-porous, rusted surface. It dries after only 20 minutes and converts rust into an inert polymer coating with a black finish. This layer seals out moisture and prevents further rusting.
Once fully cured, it leaves a primer coating that can be used as a base for high-quality oil-based paint. When used as a primer, the painted surface will be more resistant to the harsh effects of rain, sun, and salt spray. The product is recommended for automobiles, machinery, railings, and other rusty surfaces.
Though it’s easy to use, surface preparation can be quite tedious before you can apply the rust converter— it only works well on a thin layer of rust. First, you need to thoroughly clean dirt and grease from the surface and use a wire brush to get rid of the large rust deposits before you can apply the converter.
Designed for steel surfaces, the MRO Chem converts rust into an inactive polymer resin coating. The coating is corrosion-resistant and seals out moisture to ensure that the metal doesn’t re-oxidize to form rust.
Not only does it remove dust, but it also acts as a paint primer, which sets a good base for painting on the metal to achieve a solid, smooth color. The formula can be used on automotive, farm, and marine equipment.
However, you should cover other surrounding areas without rust since it can stain them. Another drawback is that your package may arrive with a leaking bottle. Also, it has a short shelf life and the performance may gradually decline while it’s in storage.
The Loctite Naval Jelly is a pocket-friendly rust remover that effectively removes rust and scales from metal surfaces. You simply need to clean the surface to get rid of dirt, oil, and grease, then work in the formula with a sandpaper or wire brush for about 15 minutes. It works by dissolving the rust and you can easily rinse away the solution with water. It also removes bluing from steel.
The product is fairly easy to use and is recommended for all automobiles, farm equipment, and antiques. You can follow up the treatment with a primer or a topcoat to prevent moisture from further corroding the metal.
While it may be an affordable rust remover, you still have to buy more than a 16-ounce bottle to treat a heavily corroded surface. Another thing to note is that you shouldn’t exceed five minutes when using it on chrome or plated surface since it can chip away the coating.
The Rust Kutter is formulated to eliminate rust and corrosion from any metal surface by converting it into a phosphate coating. The coating then latches onto the metal to keep out moisture and oxygen to prevent further corrosion.
The formula also works to prime the metal to ready it for a fresh coat of paint. It takes about 24 hours to dry, after which you need to rinse it away and leave the treated metal to dry. Apart from automotive detailing, you can also use it for home applications on any surface that tends to rust. It comes with a sprayer for easier application and better coverage.
However, it can destroy clothes and fabrics, so be sure to wear protective clothing and cover any non-metal surface while using it. Also, one bottle may not be enough to remove heavy rust buildup.
Instead of sandblasting or scrapping, you can use the TotalBoat metal treatment to remove rust from the surface before painting it. It’s a phosphoric acid rust converter that’s formulated to remove rust by converting it into an inactive substance. It also acts as a primer and leaves the surface ready for the paint.
The fluid is a water-thin formula that can effectively spread out on the applied surface for better coverage—one gallon can cover 500 square feet. The formula is safe for iron, steel, and stainless steel, and can be used on motor vehicles, bikes, trucks, trailers, and RVs.
However, depending on the quantity you use, it may leave a white residue on the metal frame. It’s also not very effective at removing rust in cracks or crevices, and you may have to sandblast them out if not using a stronger rust remover.
- For best results, you will want to remove rust debris from the metal surface of your project. Depending on the state of corrosion, you may need to scrape off larger pieces, which can be done with abrasive sandpaper or a wire brush.
- Not all rust treatments are made to be used on bare metal. When working with bare metal or painted parts, make sure your rust removal product is compatible.
- Keep in mind the severity of your rust problem and how strong your removal product is. These will be the determining factors when it comes to prep work, sanding, and grinding.
- Be aware of your disposal method. As discussed above, different removers and converters have their own VOCs and toxicity levels. This could change your choice based on what your disposal options are.
- While converters add a protective layer to affected areas in order to keep them from further corrosion, it does not save unaffected areas. Using metal primers and paints are the best ways to protect your parts from further corrosion.
Q: What’s the difference between a rust converter and a rust remover?
A: Rust removers are used to completely remove rust from the metal surface of a corroded part. Rust converters chemically bond to the rust, which stops the corrosion from spreading and also conceals the existing rust altogether.
Q: What materials can I use rust converter on?
A: Rust converters can be used on multiple different metals. They work best with iron and steel, making them perfect for frames and other structural pieces. They are less effective on aluminum, which is becoming a more popular automotive material, so be aware of what your vehicle is made of.
Q: How does rust converter work?
A: Rust converters use phosphoric acids and polymers to create a chemical reaction with the rust. In doing so, it converts rust and changes the properties, making it an inert substance.
Q: Should I wear protective clothing when applying rust converter?
A: While the toxicity of your chosen remover is the real indicator, it’s always smart to wear some form of protection, since harsh chemicals are often used to convert rust. For liquid removers and converters, gloves should be enough, while aerosol sprays should only be used with eye protection and a paint mask.
Q: Is rust remover non-toxic?
A: Not all rust removers and converters are non-toxic. Be aware of products that use phosphoric acid and look out for FDC ratings. Using non-toxic chemicals to remove rust is safer for you and eco-friendly.
For customers looking to save their vehicle from corrosion, Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter makes the best rust primer for cars.
A more budget-friendly option is the Rust-Oleum Automotive 10.25-Ounce Rust Reformer Spray.