How to Prevent and Remove Rust on Motorcycle Exhausts?

This article will discuss the best ways to tackle a rusty motorcycle exhaust. 

Rust is the bane of every motorcycle enthusiast’s existence. If your motorcycle exhaust is showing signs of rust, you can do a couple of things to remove it. Additionally, if the thought of your motorcycle getting rusty keeps you up at night, there are some preventative measures you can take.

We have been working on motorcycles for more than a decade and riding even longer. No matter the problem, we can help you figure out a solution. 

Read on for some quick tips on removing and preventing rust on a motorcycle exhaust. 

Why is a Rusty Exhaust Bad?

Rust on a motorcycle exhaust, or any part of the bike, is bad for quite a few reasons. The biggest problem is that rust tends to spread. So the tiny patch you see today could take over a larger portion of the exhaust in a matter of weeks! 

Rust in large quantities makes the metal less resilient to damage. In extreme cases, it can significantly reduce the lifespan of metal parts. Some rusted motorcycle parts may even be beyond saving and require replacement. 

Furthermore, the rust looks awful. No one wants a bike with ugly rust covering the once shiny metal parts. Plus, rust is a sign of a bike that is neglected. It just makes a bike look old and poorly maintained. 

Why Do Motorcycle Exhausts Develop Rust?

Rust is a pretty common issue for all vehicles, not just motorcycles. When it comes to exhausts, they usually rust because they have been exposed to moisture for long periods. Furthermore, dirt and mud from riding can become embedded in the exposed metal of an exhaust and cause corrosion. 

Rusting is also more common in regions of the world with higher salt content in the air. So if you live near the sea or recently went on a coastal highway ride, you might experience a rusty motorcycle exhaust. 

How to Remove Rust From A Motorcycle Exhaust

1. Use aluminum foil

Aluminum foil works wonders for removing rust from a motorcycle exhaust. Without getting too technical, this method works thanks to a chemical reaction between the aluminum and the metal surface of the exhaust. 

Start by taking a bit of aluminum foil and crumpling it up into a ball. Lightly wet the ball and rub it back and forth on the areas affected by rust. Apply light to medium pressure and avoid using circular motions. As for how much aluminum foil you need, feel free to use a few inches or the entire roll! 

Keep rubbing the rust back and forth, and once you feel it start to smoothen out, most of the rust should be gone. 

2. Rust Remover Spray

Another effective way to remove rust from a motorcycle exhaust is by using a rust removal spray. This unique formulation targets rust and helps clear metal surfaces of oxidation. We recommend the Rust Bullet Spray Rust Remover. It is one of the most effective sprays we have tested and works on most metals. 

It’s also insanely easy to use. Just spray a small amount of the cleaner on the rust and leave it for a few minutes. Once you start seeing the rust dissolve, simply wipe or rinse the excess product off. Multiple passes might be required, but it works. 

Just be careful not to get too much of the spray on painted body parts. It could leave splotches on some paint types. 


3. Use WD-40

Finally, we have the classic ‘do-it-all’ product. WD-40 works surprisingly well for removing rust from a motorcycle exhaust. If there is more rust, you will need to use a fairly large amount of WD-40, so keep that in mind when you go down to the store. 

Like any spray-style rust cleaner, apply the WD-40 liberally on the affected areas. Make sure to soak the entire surface and then wait for a few minutes. The WD-40 is fast-acting and breaks down the bond that lets the rust adhere to the metal. 

After a while, use a clean rag to wipe away the rust and repeat as necessary. 

How to Prevent a Motorcycle Exhaust from Rusting

When it comes to rust, the best thing you can do for your motorcycle’s exhaust is not to let it happen in the first place. Here are a couple of things you can do to launch a preemptive strike against rust. 

  1. Keep it clean

The Number 1 reason motorcycle exhausts rust over time is that they are not cleaned and maintained correctly. When dirt, grime, and, most concerningly, moisture are left unattended on the exhaust for long periods, they can cause the exhaust to rust and corrode. 

Keeping your motorcycle’s exhaust clean and regularly maintaining it is easy. Check out our handy guide on how to clean a motorcycle exhaust here. 

  1. Powder coat the exhaust 

Another quick preventative measure against rust is powder coating. You know what powder coating is if you have ever seen a matte black finish on some engine parts and exhausts on motorcycles. 

The powder coat acts as a physical barrier between the exhaust and the environment. It reduces the chances of the metal oxidizing over time, thus preventing rust and corrosion. Not to mention, powder coats look fantastic! 

You can get your motorcycle exhaust powder coated pretty easily. However, be sure to get it done correctly, as even the most minor gaps in the coating could let moisture under the surface. 

Alternatively, you can also get your motorcycle exhaust painted for added protection from rust. 

  1. Use WD-40’s Specialist Corrosion Inhibitor

It seems WD-40 works for basically anything! The Specialist Corrosion Inhibitor is a unique formulation that prevents rust from setting into your motorcycle. The way it works is by forming a protective layer over metal surfaces. This protective layer holds up well to rust and corrosion. 

WD-40 claims that this spray can keep rust at bay for up to 2 years! Our testing found that it does an excellent job of sealing the metal and not letting moisture or air penetrate it. That said, you may require multiple applications for prolonged rust protection. 


Rust on a motorcycle exhaust is just plain awful. It reduces the lifespan of metal parts and decreases performance. Even a little bit of rust can spread and become a bigger problem. Not to mention, it just looks so bad on an otherwise spic and span motorcycle. 

Thankfully, you can do quite a few things to remove and prevent rust. Hopefully, our guide helped you clear away any rust on your motorcycle exhaust or prevent it from rusting in the future.

Hugo Alais

Hi, I'm Hugo, I'm a motorcycle enthusiast who’s been riding for the last 10 years. I'm passionate about all things motorcycles and started Bikes Future to help other riders make the right motorcycle moves. I ride a white Kawasaki Ninja 400. You can find out more about me and my experience with motorcycling here.