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Fixing this rust before it's a problem

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Yeah, that's 100% clean solid metal underneath. What you have is literally the epitome of "Surface rust"

 

A wire brush, wire wheel, media blasting, or even some 80 grit sand paper (gradually working up to a 180ish grit before prime), will all clean the area nicely.

 

Prime the area, and any other rusty areas, once cleaned. 

 

Definitely get it in primer at least, especially if, like you said, you won't be painting for a while.

 

Looks like you're working with some SOLID bones though. Nice floors.

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That's nothin!

 

If it were mine, Id prep the metal(probably strip the old tar out too) with POR 15 marine cleaner, wash it good!, and hit the whole area with either a self etching primer or POR15 primer. Regular primer probably wont cut it for very long. Im not a body guy, but as I understand it you need something thats gonna neutralize the rust, bond to bare metal, and seal it up. With good floors it would be worth the time to do it that way and its not gonna cost you more than $100 to do it and be done.

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That's nothin!

 

If it were mine, Id prep the metal(probably strip the old tar out too) with POR 15 marine cleaner, wash it good!, and hit the whole area with either a self etching primer or POR15 primer. Regular primer probably wont cut it for very long. Im not a body guy, but as I understand it you need something thats gonna neutralize the rust, bond to bare metal, and seal it up. With good floors it would be worth the time to do it that way and its not gonna cost you more than $100 to do it and be done.

 

I second this.  That tar in there is also one of the sources of "old car smell".  Since you already have it exposed yank that stuff and "repaint" the floors with a POR15 type coating.  You may actually find more rust under the tar so its a good idea to check the whole area.

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Leave it alone and keep driving!  It will take 40 years to have a problem with that as a starting point.  Very jealous.

 

Ha, thanks. I don't know if I'll have this car in 40 years, but I went through enough rusted out shells before happening upon it that I'll at least try to contain the damage when I can, just for the next person. I figure if I keep putting it off, it will just end up like the other rusted out ones.

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Just sand as much as you can off, treat the areas that were rusted with Ospho or something similar, and paint it really well. I'm in the process of doing that to my floors now. I just used dry ice to get out the old tar, and am using a dremel multimax to get out the old seam sealer. I actually took some exterior metal behind the door down to bare metal, wiped it with Ospho. It sat about 2 weeks before I did the welding in that area and went through at least 2 rain storms. It only had a few dots of surface rust coming back. I am a believer it that stuff now.

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