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Paint Over Rust On White 1998 Toyota Camry?

Medium story short, I have a dent on the passenger side of my 1998 Toyota Camry. There is some rust that’s been there basically since the dent was made a few years ago, but hasn’t spread much at all.

Is it possible for me to paint over this rust? My vehicle is white.

If possible, how would I go about doing this? What are the best supplies and paint to use? Any help would be greatly appreciated - thank you!

Just like you can’t weld on rust, you can’t paint on rust.

The rust must be removed.



Figured. Any suggestions on what I can spray/put on the rust that will remove it enough for paint to be applied later?


Rust never sleeps.

It’s like a cancer.

It must be removed mechanically. (sanding to bare metal)


Even the paint that claims to cover rust and bind it up says to remove the rust before you paint over it. For a 98, use a wire brush to get all the rust off, paint it with the miracle paint that turns rust to something less of a problem then paint over it with white paint. If you could live with the dent/rust for a few years, you will be able to live with the results of this.

Thank you! Yes, I’m not expecting a perfect look. Just an upgrade from the rust.

a picture posted would help a lot, otherwise you get “shot in the dark” suggestions

if it is small in size, potentially you could try “rust convertors/inhibitors” to form a temporary basis for temporary repair, but it is hard to tell without looking

I tend to agree with the rest of advise here that likely you would need to attack it mechanically, then likely you would need to repaint with all proper set of primer / base / clear coats

your car is not new, so you might save by doing work yourself. I had a good experience with to get your OEM color base/clear, they do have primers and other supplies too. their “paint in a rattle-can” option is decent quality if you do not expect a show-room result

Good advice above to try to remove all the rust by wire-brushing etc before painting. There’s no rule that says you can’t use an electric motor to power the wire brush, you don’t have to do it all by hand if that’s your concern. Painting on a little rust converter on spots where removing all the rust isn’t practical is much better than doing nothing at all. The problem you’d have if you just painted over the rust as-is, the paint job would look great for a while, then little blisters would start forming in the paint, and in 2-3 years it would look worse than if you didn’t paint at all.

If you haven’t got the “hints” … It is not a good idea to paint over rust. The rust will fall off, taking the paint with it and back you go to repainting the spot. Given that the car is white, that makes it very easy to blend the repair so it can’t be seen very well. Be sure and get the matching shade of white. And Yes, there are a ton of shades of white! Ask any fashionable woman about “white.”

Clean the rust off as best you can with a wire brush and/or sandpaper, use rust convertor on anything left, fill any low pots with filler, same smooth - very smooth - prime and paint.

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When you sand the area, be sure to remove the paint closest to the rust spot too. Odds are the rust crept under the paint and will bubble up as it grows. After removing the rust completely, wipe the area down with alcohol or acetone to make sure it is bare metal with no contamination. A contaminated surface will not hold paint well. Then put masking tape around the area you want to paint. This will limit overspray. You might want to extend the paint block with newspaper under the outer edge of the masking tape. Next spray a primer on the area. You want to spray with a sweeping motion and apply only a little paint at a time. Spray just enough primer to cover the spot. It is meant to bind better to the metal and hold the paint better than metal alone. After a couple of hours, spray over the spot with your top coat of white using the same sweeping motion. I did this on a car a number of years ago and it actually helped sell the car. It was very clean inside and out, and the neat paint touch up while obvious, got a compliment from the future owner.

I agree, sand down to bare metal, extending a bit into the unrusted area.

I had good luck with rustoleum metal primer, then some touch up paint.

I had tiny rust spots all over the hood of my 98 black camry.
Had success with sanding down all the rust until i saw shiny metal, then sprayed using rusty metal primer, followed by high gloss enamel spray paint, Been 2 yrs and no rust!

There are products that allow you to paint directly over the rust. POR-15 is one of, if not the, best products out there for this purpose.

The drawback is that any paint applied to only a small section of a panel will always be visible. And this paint is TOUGH. Once applied, it would have to be sanded/ground off completely if you ever wanted to fix the panel to like new. If all you want is something to stop the rust from progressing and look decent from a couple feet away, then this will do the job.

Buy a pint of this-
Have your top coat paint ready when you do the job as timing is somewhat critical to getting the top coat to stick. If you let this paint dry entirely, nothing will stick to it afterward.

You can buy small aerosol cans of matching paint at most auto stores or walmart.

Remove anything loose, you can leave any surface rust alone. The paint prefers that surface rust for best adhesion. Paint the area and wait for it to dry enough to get a light finger drag. Time will vary based on temp and humidity. Then top coat. Simple.

BTW, I actually done it to a door panel on my truck as an experiment having used these products in numerous full restorations/restifications/repairs. It works as advertised.

Thanks everyone! For reference, here are some photos of the damage/rust. I live in Minnesota fyi.


But does it allow the rust to continue to advance towards the inside? I would think it does…

1998 vehicle with that much damage, just drive on and run it in the ground. The rust has a head start and that much body work is going to most likely exceed the value of the vehicle.

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I agree. That quarter panel is shot anyway so what difference does it make if the rust is stopped or not. It will never be fixed without replacing it. Like I think I said before, rust converters simply do not work very well and I’ve tried most of them. If you don’t get all the rust out, it will continue to rust. POR 15 is like a ceramic coating and is really the best I’ve used. Even if the rust continues underneath, you still have the hard shell of the coating. It is pretty expensive though.

Not sure what you mean.
It completely seals off any oxygen getting to the metal so as long as you paint up to the solid, existing paint, it will stop rusting. I’ve never had a panel rust through or even undermine this stuff once applied. 20+ years experience using it…

Seeing the pics now, I would just slap it on the exposed rust, as far under the bumper cover as reachable and call it a day. That car will be in the junk heap for other reasons before the POR-15 comes off.

I see. No O2, no rust.

Thanks everyone. I think I’ll try the POR-15.

The only thing I’ll say in my car’s defense is that this Camry has already outlasted numerous early 2000-era Fords various friends have owned.