What are rust encapsulators?
Rust encapsulators work by sealing off existing rust, denying it the oxygen it needs to grow. Some common brand name rust encapsulators are: POR-15, Chassis-Saver, Zero Rust, Rust Bullet, and Eastwood Rust Encapsulator.
 Three distinct perspectives on rust encapsulators
The use of rust encapsulators in hotrodding is controversial. Hotrodders typically divide into 3 distinct camps over the use of rust encapsulation products on vehicles:
- Won't use rust encapsulation products at all.
- Will use rust encapsulation products, but not on body panels.
- Will use rust encapsulation products on a variety of parts, including body panels.
It's hard to pinpoint a definitive black-and-white viewpoint as to whether professionals do/don't use rust encapsulators. However, it does indeed seem reasonable to say: "Rust encapsulators are generally thought to be an acceptable solution for hobbyists, but are relied upon less frequently by professionals."
 Arguments for using rust encapsulators
- They're a relatively inexpensive solution for hobbyists.
- Professionals frequently work on new (or nearly new) vehicles, and body shops/insurance companies won't waste time on cars that don't have sufficient useful life remaining. However, hotrodders will often start with rust buckets, where the only viable option for a hobbyist is to replace the worst rust, grind off what can be ground off, and chemically encapsulate the remainer. In such a situation, rust encapsulation products provide a reasonable compromise.
 Arguments against using rust encapsulators
- Though many rust encapsulation products carry a "lifetime warranty", such guarantees don't involve labor costs, losses, or other related costs.
- For hobbyists, it's often best to stick with a single line of paint/finish products, from bare metal to clearcoat. Using most rust products means that you're outside of the product line for the rest of the finish. So, it may be physically incompatible (resulting in a poor paint job), or it may void the product warranty.
- They're expensive.
- The major paint manufacturers like Sherwin Williams, PPG, and DuPont don't produce a rust encapsulation product. This is thought to be because they couldn't possibly warranty such a product.
- Notably, OEM manufacturers don't use rust encapsulation products.
- Many rust encapsulators require the surface to be lightly rusted first for the product to properly adhere. "Inducing" rust seems wrong to people.
- Rust prevention products are primarily advertised in hobbyist mags, not in periodicals read by professionals in the paint and body industry.
- The thought that the rust still lurks beneath the encapsulator, and hasn't been completely eliminated, is troubling.
- The cultural or conceptual notion that the rust hasn't been removed, just covered by "that black stuff".
- The notion that, after you "encapsulate" rust, it still "lives underneath", is generally correct. There is mobile oxygen in the metal, living beneath the surface, causing more rust.
Rust encapsulation products are hard to remove from skin. Try soaking in vegetable oil for 30 minutes, or see if there is a specific solvent for the product you're using.
 Choosing a specific rust encapsulator
When selecting a rust encapsulator, you will need to consider:
- Product compatibility.
- What can it be thinned with, and how?
- How long does it take to dry/cure?
- Will it fade in direct sunlight? Is there a UV topcoat available?
- What colors are available?
 Rust encapsulation products
- Eastwood Rust Encapsulator Manufacturer description: encapsulates rust and primes in one step. Can be used under or over body fillers. Compatible with most topcoats. $100/gallon.
- Zero Rust
- Rust Bullet
- Hotrodders forum thread POR15 vs. Zero Rust