One of the most frustrating things in this world is spending a ton of money on something and it starts to fall apart. Oversized, expensive items such as trailers that sit outside most of the time in the elements can rust if not treated and maintained appropriately. You will want to keep a trailer from rusting with these options.
Here are four tips to keep your trailer from rusting:
- Paint the metal
- Keep the trailer adequately cleaned and stored
- Galvanize the metal
- Use a rust preventative product
These four methods will keep the rust off your trailer and leave it looking newer for longer. Read on to see how you can implement these tips to increase the longevity of your trailer.
Why Is Your Trailer Rusting?
First of all, I want to explain what rust is, how it’s formed, and the different ways it manifests —understanding how rust forms is essential when identifying and treating a contaminated trailer.
Rust is the result of oxidized metal. When water and electrolytes like road salts or acid rain make contact with oxygen, iron oxide is formed, which corrodes and weakens metal over time.
There are four different types of rust: yellow, red, brown, and black.
You will find yellow rust on metal sitting in stagnant water for a prolonged time. Black rust is less common and occurs when oxygen does not come in contact with metal. Since these are less common, and you will not be storing your trailer in a pond, we’ll leave these out.
Types of rust that form vary on the oxygen and water levels that come in contact with the metal. Typically we see red rust in areas with high moisture content, while brown rust occurs in areas with high levels of oxygen and low moisture.
Additionally, there are two subcategories of rust: ingoing rust and outgoing rust.
Ingoing rust starts from the outside and works toward the seams, gradually weakening the metallic structure. Outgoing rust is harder to recognize as it begins in the metal seams and migrates to the outer layer.
4 Tips on How to Keep Your Trailer From Rusting
Here are some of the ways you can keep your trailer from rusting.
1. Paint the Metal
Painting is probably the most common method for preventing rust. You’ll first remove rust (if any) by scraping, meaning your trailer will need a repaint after the intervention.
Painting the metal is most people’s go-to. The paint creates a barrier between the oxygen (and moisture in the air) and the metal itself, preventing the formation of iron oxide. After it’s painted, a few touch-ups will cost much less in the long run than paying for rust repair.
This method is not a fool-proof plan. You may be required to repaint your trailer as the weather and other elements chip away at the paint. However, you can make the method effective by investing in oil-based paint, which provides extra protection to your trailer’s metallic surface.
2. Keep the Trailer Adequately Cleaned and Stored
If you decide against any other option, it is vital that you properly store your trailer in a cool, dry, and covered space. Since rust results from the mixture of oxygen and acidic elements (even water), you need to keep the metal away from contact with water when not in use.
After driving the trailer, mainly if mud or other road dirt collects on it, clean and dry thoroughly. Park the trailer in a storage unit or a covered and protected garage. This step will minimize the chances of rust. Storing your trailer can be relatively inexpensive if you have covered parking available to you or live in a dry climate.
There is nothing you can do to protect the trailer against the elements while driving. Unfortunately, that is a natural hazard that you cannot avoid. Also, storage spaces can be expensive. Some storage companies limit the time of day you can access your unit.
3. Galvanize the Metal
Galvanizing is the process of applying a layer of zinc to the metal to prevent moisture and oxygen from creating rust. The galvanizing of a trailer includes “hot dipping” the metal into a galvanized liquid to create an even coated barrier.
Many metals already come galvanized and if you have not purchased your trailer yet, look for one with galvanized metal. There are many benefits to galvanizing your metals, including lower cost, low maintenance, and increased longevity of the metal.
The zinc in the galvanizing liquid will show rust before the oxidation reaches the metal layer allowing you to recognize and correct the issue before it becomes costly.
Initially, galvanized metal is more expensive, and if you bought your trailer without it, you risk paying even more to coat the metal.
Galvanizing is not a process you will want to take on in your backyard as it requires heavy machinery. Therefore, it is highly advisable to invest in a galvanized trailer if you want to reduce the risks of rust over time.
For more tips on how to prevent rust from forming on metal, check this article.
4. Use a Rust Prevention Product
When I say “use a rust prevention product,” you might be thinking, “isn’t that what all of these options are?” And you are correct – to a degree. With a product like Fluid Film from Amazon, you can protect the metal of your trailer while it is still in pristine condition.
Eureka Chemical Company designed Fluid Film to coat the metal surface to prevent corrosion. This product is less expensive than other options and is a one-time fix. When used with an air-pressured sprayer, it provides a quick coating that helps prevent rusting. Using a product like Fluid Film is one of the least expensive methods to keep your trailer from rusting.
Some consumer reviews state the paste smells pretty rank, so you may choose to wear a mask while applying it to your trailer. Also, you might want to outsource to experts if you’re not big on applying the chemical as a DIY project. Finally, depending on how large your trailer is, you may need more Fluid Film than is provided in one 5-gallon bucket.
It’s also worth noting that Fluid Film will not reverse rust that has already occurred but will preserve the metal in its current state.
When buying a trailer or trying to keep your current trailer in good condition, there are a few options to consider to prevent rust.
- Paint the trailer’s metal to create a barrier between the oxygen/moisture content in the air and the metal.
- Keep the trailer adequately stored in a cool, dry, covered space to keep it out of inclement weather.
- Galvanize the metal with the “hot-dip” method, which applies a thin layer of zinc that will rust before the metal.
- Use a rust preventative product and spray your vehicle as-is to lock in the current condition of the metal.