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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 09-21-2016, 07:47 PM   #1
Nolan_R
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Rust repair worries

Hi everyone, my jet black e46 coupe had a bit of rust on it when I bought it, and I'd really like to fix it before winter so it doesn't get any worse.
I've been looking into it and I think that I might have had some misconceptions about rust repair. I was planning on sanding down the rusted areas, filling holes with Bondo, and painting over it. I'm aware that it'll come back and the color won't be a perfect match. However, I've heard of people spending hundreds to get a microscopic rust bubble taken out. Would anyone suggest using the method above to fix larger rust spots like mine? I have links to the two major rust spots below. Any response is apreciated. Thanks!
http://i.imgur.com/nDGqHEm.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/eFaD1So.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/wqhNRif.jpg
(Pictures are pretty bad. I can take better ones if it helps)
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Old 09-21-2016, 08:03 PM   #2
lozonr
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Hey, well I had a rust issue on one wheel well that I had to fix, what did it for me was a good good sanding and buying the direct paint used on the car and touching it up. Then I took clear coat and coated it. Hasn't came back yet. Been a year.
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Old 09-21-2016, 08:51 PM   #3
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Ouch! Hate to say it but that's pretty serious rust going on there. That rust around the wheel well is coming through from the back side now and will only get worse. Sanding and painting as you described will be a very temporary fix. The only real way to fix at this point is cutting out and replacing the rusted sections.


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Old 09-21-2016, 09:05 PM   #4
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Hate to be the one to say it but that's a lot of rust before thinking about getting another E46 such as a 330i
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Old 09-21-2016, 09:22 PM   #5
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Well thanks for all the replies. I know that the rust is bad, but considering that the car is 12 years old, I'd rather put my money elsewhere (like another e46). How temporary of a fix is bondo? If it'll last a couple years then I'd be perfectly happy. I'd really hate to see it begin to rot holes in my fender.
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Old 09-21-2016, 09:22 PM   #6
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Hey, well I had a rust issue on one wheel well that I had to fix, what did it for me was a good good sanding and buying the direct paint used on the car and touching it up. Then I took clear coat and coated it. Hasn't came back yet. Been a year.
Thanks for responding. Do you have any pictures of your repair? Was it quite as severe as the rust on my car?
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Old 09-21-2016, 09:30 PM   #7
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That car is far too gone now, anything you do to it now (short of cutting off bodywork and welding in new metal) is going to be a temporary fix at best.

The time to take action against rust is when you see the first hint of a bubble, when it's still treatable. Yours is full on malignant right now.
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Old 09-21-2016, 10:46 PM   #8
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My car had very similar rust that I had to repair. This was only a few months ago so I can't tell you how it holds up for a long period of time but what I did was use an angle grinder, first with a metal grinding wheel, then with a sanding flap disc. Once I had all the rust cleaned up, I found it wasn't all that deep so I was able to do a few coats of automotive primer (not regular primer, you need something that can fill the pits), then sand that down by hand. Then I did 3 coats of paint and 2 coats of clear coat. I was very pleased with the result. For paint, I got a spray can of paint from Bavarian Autosport that was color matched very well and was reasonably priced. I doubt that what I did will be a permanent fix, but I expect it to last a few years and it only cost me about $100 and a Saturday, so I'm happy with it overall.
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Old 09-21-2016, 10:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Nolan_R View Post
Well thanks for all the replies. I know that the rust is bad, but considering that the car is 12 years old, I'd rather put my money elsewhere (like another e46). How temporary of a fix is bondo? If it'll last a couple years then I'd be perfectly happy. I'd really hate to see it begin to rot holes in my fender.
Don't blame the age. Blame the previous owners' lack of care.
My car is 16 years old and it doesn't have a speck of rust.

That said, I am echoing what pretty much every poster here has said: the car is too far gone.

I've done the whole grind / sand / bondo / primer procedure on the hood of my winter beater. Even had it professionally painted. The bubbles started to come back 3 months later, right before I sold it.
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Old 09-21-2016, 11:21 PM   #10
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I'd spend the money on a proper repair if it was me, car deserves it. Excise the cancerous tissue and graft in healthy steel. Don't be such a cheapskate. Shop around and you might find it more affordable than you originally thought. Then keep the car clean so it doesn't rust. Not hard.
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Old 09-21-2016, 11:30 PM   #11
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I'd spend the money on a proper repair if it was me, car deserves it. Excise the cancerous tissue and graft in healthy steel. Don't be such a cheapskate. Shop around and you might find it more affordable than you originally thought. Then keep the car clean so it doesn't rust. Not hard.
If that's how the exterior of the car looks, the rest of the car has long had malignant rust cancer.

You'd be putting lipstick on a pig. Waste of money.
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Old 09-22-2016, 01:04 AM   #12
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If that's how the exterior of the car looks, the rest of the car has long had malignant rust cancer.

You'd be putting lipstick on a pig. Waste of money.
Agreed, the undercarriage probably looks like a moonscape. Turn it into a winter beater and invest in a really nice E46. Just my opinion...
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Old 09-22-2016, 06:05 AM   #13
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If you can weld I'd say find a junkyard e46 cut out what you need from it and welds it in. And then go with the bondo, sand, paint routine. Maybe pay someone to paint after? That's full on bodywork though. Might not be worth it...depends on the person
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Old 09-22-2016, 06:56 AM   #14
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If you want to know how bad the rust is, take a grinder or a poker hammer to it. It's going to be worse than what you think it is. If you still have some metal left, you can bondo it, but it's not going to be easy to make those areas look right. Especially the wheel well. That's a huge repair area. There's also no way to tell how long the "repair" will hold up.


Personally, I wouldn't dick around with it.
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Old 09-22-2016, 08:10 AM   #15
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If you just grind and paint the rust will come back within a year.

After you grind and sand off the rust you need to treat it chemically to stop the rusting. There are various chemicals for this. If you go to a pro paint shop they can hook you up. Usually it is a clear fluid that you brush on. It creates a reaction with the invisible rust that remains after sanding and turns the rust into an inert oxide that can't rust anymore. It will look like teflon.

Then you prime and paint. The rust won't come back for years with some luck.

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Old 09-22-2016, 08:36 AM   #16
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If you just grind and paint the rust will come back within a year.

After you grind and sand off the rust you need to treat it chemically to stop the rusting. There are various chemicals for this. If you go to a pro paint shop they can hook you up. Usually it is a clear fluid that you brush on. It creates a reaction with the invisible rust that remains after sanding and turns the rust into an inert oxide that can't rust anymore. It will look like teflon.

Then you prime and paint. The rust won't come back for years with some luck.
Thanks, I think that's what I'll do. It isn't as if I can make things much worse. I guess I didn't know quite how bad the rust was. On the bright side, I am in the market for another e46. One without rust!
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Old 09-22-2016, 11:24 AM   #17
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If that's how the exterior of the car looks, the rest of the car has long had malignant rust cancer.



You'd be putting lipstick on a pig. Waste of money.

LOL you're probably right. I always want to rescue stuff. It's my nature. Rust is like an iceberg, you only see the tip.

My policy is to never consider a car that has any rust on it period, and to search like crazy for it during the pre-purchase inspection. Keeps me free of dilemmas like this.
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Old 09-22-2016, 01:26 PM   #18
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GhostFlame, how do you keep your car rust free in Toronto? Every winter we get a metric ****tonne of salt on the roads, it gets so fine that on the coldest and driest of winter days you can see clouds of it floating above our roads.

For this winter i'm thinking of buying a car wash pass at Esso, unlimited car washes for 3 months for what I think it was around $200. And then I plan to wash it every day, but it is still always parked outside tho.
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Old 09-22-2016, 02:02 PM   #19
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Easy. I rustproof my car yearly. I also keep my car reasonably clean.

The family usually gets the same car wash pass (1 wash per day for 90 days) with Petro Canada.
So I used that every couple of days in the winter.

Spraying Krown lubricant in the hood / trunk / door hinges & edges, etc. also goes a long way.
I do that once every few gas fill-ups in the winter.

A lot of people also see a bit of rust, and don't do anything to nip it in the bud. I do.
Not even my winter beaters had any sort of visible rust. (and I owned a POS Chrysler Neon at one point)
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Old 09-22-2016, 02:47 PM   #20
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^ is right, it's possible to beat the rust with a technique called "taking care of your car". Old Indian trick. If you drive the car in the salt that's one thing- if you drive it and not wash it you are asking for trouble.
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