Today I’m showing you how to rust your Hot Wheels Diecast Cars and give them that aged barn-find look.

Before we begin I warn you that this is the most indepth article/how to guide you are likely to find and as such is not one for the faint hearted. Within this article you will find 4 different methods to rust your diecast cars as well as 3 videos and a whole heap of hints, tips and rust related information. So without further ado, let’s dive into

My Rust’em Hotwheels

Now there are a few different methods that I have discovered, through both trial and error as well as through contributions from fellow customisers on the Facebook Group (thanks guys!) and I will be discussing them all in detail. I have also prepared a 3 part video (my first of many How To Videos!) so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel while you’re watching 🙂

How To Rust Hot Wheels & Diecast Car – Method 1.

The first method of rusting your hotwheels is what I call the ‘A-La-Naturale‘ method, also known as the ‘holy-shit-that’s-a-long-winded-process‘ method. Basically what it involves is placing your chosen diecast vehicle onto something that is as rusty as #$%! and leaving it outside in the elements for, oh I dunno – 4 or 5 months 😀

Just for the fun of it, and because I had the time I decided to place a Wellys diecast chevy casting onto a rusty saw that I had lying around my garden (as one does) and so I placed a chevy that I had roughed up where I wanted extra rust [on its side] on the saw in a place where the ground naturally concaved around it and as such allowed water to pool up around the saw and accompanying vehicle.

I then left it for 2 months – watering it liberally and this is the result:

how to naturally rust your hot wheels diecast cars

The top image shows the side that was not resting on the saw and is quite the contrast to the affected side (shown in more detail below)

how to naturally rust your hot wheels diecast cars

I then turned it over onto its other side (left side) and let it rest for a further 3 months (I forgot about it to be honest!) and this is the final result:

how to naturally rust your hot wheels diecast cars


OK so this method is actually more #ShitsandGiggles than a serious way of rusting your Hotwheels but then again, considering the only real effort here is time then it’s actually a kick ass method that produces some pretty realistic results. Annnnnnnnnyway. Moving on…

How To Rust Hotwheels & Diecast Cars – Method 2

This next method comes courtesy of Sean Oberti, a talented customiser and active member of the My Custom Hotwheels Facebook Group – and I have to admit it seems to be a rather clever method indeed.

This method of rusting your custom diecast car involves STEEL WOOL and SALT and goes a little something like this:

  • “Let the the steel wool sit in water until water goes all rusty then tip out the water and steel wool and at the bottom of the tub is a rusty paste.
  •  Get a paint brush dip it in paste and apply on car to get above effect.
  •  I found with a tiny bit of acid in the water while rusting you can get the diecast to actually rust away.”

The results of this method:

how to rust hotwheels using salt and water

how to rust hotwheels using salt and water


How To Rust Hotwheels & Diecast Cars – Method 3

The next method is one that I discovered through Sharon Tarshish, our inaugural Customiser Spotlightee – and it appears that this method is perhaps the most efficient and easiest to apply.

Basically he used a product called Weathering Powder (pictured below from Humbrol Brand) and applies it to the vehicle where he wants the rust to appear. He claims the rust will start to form within 5 minutes and I for one will be purchasing some – not just because it is clearly more efficient, but also because it is a great addition to the next method I will be discussing and will provide the ability to add extra detailed (and slightly different coloured) rust to certain areas of the vehicle.

how to rust hotwheels and diecast cars in 5 minutes

The results from applying Weathering Powder to your vehicle:

how to rust hotwheels in 5 minutes with weathering powder

Rusting Your Hotwheels with Weathering Powder – Pros and Cons

As I mentioned above, the advantages to a product like this is the ease with which it can be applied, the speed at which it works, and most importantly – the detail it allows you to apply.

The disadvantages to using a product like this is that you are limited to only rusting certain areas, and even then it will never appear totally rusted or neglected on the level you might be hoping to achieve. That being said, I think it is something that should be used in conjunction with the most popular method – and one that gives the most consistent and realistic rust results out of the bunch…

How To Rust Hot-Wheels & Diecast Cars – Method 4 

OK This is the main show – the attraction everyone came to see – and it even has video (ooooh) So let’s get into it.

Creating Rust – What You’ll Need

You are going to need the following items:
[Coarse Grade Steel Wool, a baking tray or similar, a pyrate or glass container, heavy duty (powder free) gloves, White Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide (available from any good Chemist/Pharmacy/Drug Store)]

how to rust a hotwheels diecast car - what you need

Now Let’s Rust Up Our Custom HotWheels

I will post up the video here and then after go through the process in more detail.

How To Rust Diecast Cars – Preparing the Solution

  • Take your White Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide solution and pour them into your mixing container or jug at a ratio of 60:40 – with the greater ratio belonging to the [active ingredient] Hydrogen Peroxide.
    *I mention in the video a ratio of 50:50 but found I needed  to add more HP during the process. As such I recommend 60:40
  • Take a large wad of Steel wool and place it into the solution so that it is completely immersed – but big enough to fill at least 2/3rds of the container.
  • Over the  course of the next 15 – 30 minutes stir the solution liberally and often.
  • You will notice the solution turning brown almost immediately and as time goes by this colour gets more intense – as does the bubbling, hissing and heating of the vinegar and hyrogen peroxide mix.
  • After a good 30 minutes the solution is well and truly ready in that the chemical mix has extracted as much of the iron oxide (that’s rust folks) from the steel wool – and you are now ready to start rusting your hotwheels custom-to-be

How To Rust Diecast Cars – First Application

  • The solution you are working with is very (very) runny and although this may at first appear a hinderance it is infact the complete opposite, with the viscosity allowing us to apply the rust in multiple coats resulting in a genuine rusted-barn-find appearance.
  • Making sure you are wearing gloves, remove the steel wool from the solution and use it to ‘paint the car’
    You can only do one surface at a time but for this initial application I recommend just going a bit overboard and just letting the solution cover every surface.

how to rust hot wheels diecast cars - first stages 1

  • I even reverted to pouring the solution over the top, causing it to pool up around the vehicles (as shown above)
  • Once the solution is sitting in an almost bubble on the roof and bonnet (for example) I walk away and have a coffee or something.

how to rust hot wheels diecast cars - first stages

  • After 5 or so minutes I return and pick the car up so all the excessive ‘rust juice’ pours off. This leaves unnatural marks of brown all over the top as well as down the sides where it has dripped and pooled up

how to rust hot wheels diecast cars - applying the rust

  • I repeat this process over and over again, each time adding the thick layer of ‘rust juice’ to different sections of the vehicles. The image above shows how the rust is starting to build up in certain areas AND leave unnatural (natural) marks down the sides.

How To Rust Diecast Cars – Second Application

The How To Rust Part 2 Video goes through the process once you have been working at your rust for 30 – 40 minutes and is “where the magic happens”

  • The solution you are working with should have thickened up somewhat by now and should be easier to apply to the vehicle – but in case it is still too runny (like I found in the videos) then add a touch more Hydogen peroxide, and if necessary add more steel wool.
  • The process for the second application is similar in that you have to repeat the application to each panel over and over, but now it’s time to employ a small paint brush.

how to rust hotwheels and diecast cars - middle stages 1

How To Rust Diecast Cars – Third Application

  • It has now been over an hour since you first started applying the rust solution to your cars and the solution is half in the container and half in and on the cars themselves.
  • You should notice at this point that the solution pooled up in the baking tray has turned sludgy and gammy as $#%!  – Now we’re cooking with gas.
  • You should also have cars that are completely covered in the rust (if you have chosen to cover the whole thing that is) and now require that extra layer in places where rust would naturally appear.

How To Rust Diecast Cars - Second Application

  • Using my brush I simply dip it into the gammy solution lying in the tray and paint around the door frames, dripping from the door handles, wheel arches, and anywhere else rust might appear.

How To Rust Diecast Cars - Second Application

Our rust application is now complete and the vehicles should look a little something like this:

how to rust hot wheels - the final product 2 how to rust hot wheels - the final product 2 how to rust hot wheels - the final product 2

  • We are now left with a completely rusted vehicle and one might be happy to call it a day. But one is a lonely number – and it can get stuffed, because there is one final bonus that even the video fails to mention. Namely because it was something I discovered the following day.

How To Rust Diecast Cars – The Morning After

When I woke up the following morning I discovered that the pool of solution in the tray had all but dissapeared leaving the mankiest, sludgiest goo in the bottom. The contents of the container, which was less than 1cm deep had also turned sludgy.

What I found was that the viscosity of the solution was now perfect for adding even more details and fine tuning the look of the rust on each panel. I also realised I could paint a few extra cars – or sections of cars, and I could do so relatively quickly.


how to rust hot wheels - the final product 2 how to rust hot wheels - the next day 4 -feature image original

This Datsun wagon was painted, left to dry for 5 minutes and painted again. The door on the rod-to-be was also given the same treatment. I then used a cotton bud (Q-Tip) to brush away and soften the marks left by the thick ‘rust juice’ (thus accentuating the areas where rust formed)

how to rust hot wheels - the next day bonus 2

how to rust hot wheels - the next day 5

How To Seal The Rust and Finish the Job

Now that you are done there is one final step to ensure that our rust stays in place and our custom creation forever looks dilapidated.

This final step involves spraying a layer of lacquer or clear coat over the whole thing. Keep in mind that this does change the hue of the final product slightly, but to be honest I reckon it makes it more on par with the colour of rust and helps add that final touch.

Something else I do BEFORE applying the clear coat is to use a Q-Tip to brush away the rust (which comes off like a powder) in various places like the centre of panels. I also use the same Q-Tip to smooth out areas that don’t look natural and basically give the whole vehicle a once over.

The images below show both the initial application of the clear coat (semi gloss in my case but I would have preferred a matte version) as well as how it looks when *almost dry. *I say almost because I was too impatient to wait longer than 5 minutes before taking pic – I wanted to add this section quick since I published without it initially :p

how to seal the rust and finish the job 1 how to seal the rust and finish the job 1

You be the judge, but personally I reckon this final sealing of the rust is what sets it off 😉


How To Rust Hotwheels & Diecast Cars – Bonus Method

Just quickly wanted to share another method that involves no chemicals what-so-ever.

  • Basically what you do is paint your diecast car in a brick red or rusty orange colour and then spray it with clear coat (spray lacquer)
  • Now paint the vehicle in whatever colour you want it to be.
  • Once the paint has dried take a mix of steel wool and acetone (nail polish remover) and start attacking the areas where you want the rust to appear

This method is an effective way of controlling the colour of your rust as well as the placement, and with practice can result in some very realistic looking rust effect. I have not tried this method myself (yet) so cannot show you an example. I know it works though. Trust me – would I like to you :p

Thanks for reading and watching, I hope it was as good for you as it was for me 😀

Allow me to leave you with some photos I took of the rusted up 53 chevy.

rusted 53 chevy pickup 1b

rusted 53 chevy pickup 10edited

rusted 53 chevy pickup 9b

rusted 53 chevy pickup 2

rusted 53 chevy pickup 3

rusted 53 chevy pickup 4

rusted 53 chevy pickup 6

rusted 53 chevy pickup 8

rusted 53 chevy pickup 11

rusted 53 chevy pickup collage 1




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