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How to Paint Rust On An RC Car Body

If you have an RC car that the body is starting to look a little rough on then you have probably thought about painting it to try and make it look like new again. But what do you do if instead of making it look like new you want to make an RC car body look old? 

Since most RC car bodies are made of plastic they won’t rust on their own so if you want that classic rust color look then you have to actually paint it on the RC body. In this article we will cover how to do exactly that. 

Painting rust on your RC car body is not as simple as just painting it with a hint of red. There are a few different steps involved that you need to follow. They are: 

  • Apply the base rust color
  • Apply a primer
  • Apply the final color
  • Chip and sand (if you want to create a chipped paint look)
  • Touch up the rust
  • Paint with wash

Obviously it is a much more involved process than simply putting a coat of paint on the body but if this is the look that you are going for then the work is definitely worth it. 

There are of course many ways to do this so be sure and check out the video below if you want to learn a different way. 

Prep for painting your RC body

Your final look will only look wonderful when you prepare the basics of the car body properly. There are a few steps that you need to particularly pay attention to before starting to paint it. 

The first thing that you need to do is wash the car body properly by using dish soap so that the particles of dust, fingerprints and other foreign items that are not wanted will wash off along with the soap. This is a very important step as any fingerprints can easily be seen under the newly painted body even after several coats. The dust particles may also cause problems in the paint not sticking to the body or in the final look of it. 

The next thing that you need to do is use a 1500-grit sandpaper and then rinse after sanding the body of the car. This step will remove the unwanted seams or molds on your car’s body. Make sure that you rinse after sanding through so that there is no dust or dirt left behind. 

Applying the paint

Here are the basic initial steps described briefly that will help you in painting rust on the RC car body.

Step 1: Apply the base coat of rust

This is the initial step that will help you give the final look in the last step. You first need to paint your car’s body with a rust red color. Apply the paint all over the car and make sure that it is not applied evenly. It should have uneven layers and spots to give it a pure rust look.

Step 2: Application of primer

This is the second step and a very important one at that. Whether it is a normal car body or a RC car body you need to apply a layer of primer before you start to paint. Since you have applied an uneven layer of rust paint in the initial step, the primer will also be uneven and that is exactly what we want. If you see a glimpse of rust peeking from underneath the primer, that is completely okay or it can be said that it is desired. The layer of primer should be thin in certain places and thicker in other areas.

Step 3: Application of the final color

This step is the most interesting step of all the steps. People and teenagers usually dream of painting either a wall or a car in their life and painting a car just like you want to might be a dream come true. This is the actual stage where your RC car will transform fully. 

You can either paint by hand or choose to spray all over the car’s body. Once you choose, and then choose the color to paint then you can start painting. You can leave some of the areas where the white color of the primer is peeking out. When you are satisfied by what you have painted, you need to leave the car to dry in the sun or indoors is fine as well (but it will take longer to dry). 

All the steps that are to be taken after this one need the paint of the body to be completely dry and for that you need to leave it for plenty of time. I normally prefer to leave it a day or two to make sure that the paint is fully cured. 

Step 4: Chip and sand

If you want your car to have a chipped paint look, you actually need to chip the paint off the body. There is no other way that will give you a more appropriate look than this one. You can use a trowel or even a butter knife for chipping off the paint. The edges of the car, if chipped will give an amazing effect. You can start with the trowel or even a screwdriver  and a little amount of pressure if you are a beginner. 

Start applying and increasing the pressure and continue doing it until you get that look which you wanted to see on your RC car. If you want your car to show some parts of rust, you can use the sand-paper you used in the initial steps. Rub the sand-paper till you see the satisfactory amount of the rust paint layer. If you want to show some damage to the car, use a wire brush to scratch the paint off from some places. Select the areas that are a little raised because those areas are prone to get damaged very easily from tree branches and other materials.

Step 5: Touch up the rust

When you are done with chipping and scraping off the paint, now is the time to touch up the rust. Take a foam brush and dip it in the red rust color that you used to paint the car in step 1. It would be better if you are able to arrange a little darker color than that red. Dip the foam brush in the paint and touch the areas that you have scraped off. The areas that have the white paint revealed are suggested to be touched up first and then the edges. It is advised to use a brown color or mix a little brown in deep red color to give it a rusted effect.

Step 6: Paint it with wash

Wash is very different from what might have come to your mind. Wash is a thin paint that is used to enhance the features of the car. Take a brush and apply wash on the required places that need detailing. The rust and chipped areas will stand out as soon as you are done with the wash. For the final touch, you can take a dull gold powder and touch it on the edges to give it an old and rusty look. The silver powder will help you in enhancing the metal areas near the wheels. 

Be sure and seal all of these effects with clear matte paint that is available in any hardware shop. 


These were all the steps described briefly about how to paint your RC car and give it a rusty and old look. Go ahead and create many exciting and amazing cars with this newfound skill! 

Collect and save them for future generations and for your memory collection box or simply have fun creating amazing looks over and over again. 

There are tons of videos on Youtube that will give your their spin on creating a rust look so be sure and check each of those out and see which one looks the easiest for you to try.