Friday, June 2, 2023


Rust: How to prevent it from damaging your RV

Left unchecked, rust can quickly ruin more than just your RV’s look. You want to do everything you can to prevent rust on your RV. It has the potential to make your rig unsafe as well. Here’s why: 

  • Driving over roads treated with salt or other chemicals can leave salt deposits all over the underside of your RV. Left unattended, this can lead to corrosion. This corrosion can quickly form rust on the rig’s frame and joints, potentially compromising the integrity of the coach.
  • Similarly, rust will form if your RV is exposed to sea salt (even from the air). 
  • If you pick up a rock or otherwise scratch the protective coating on your RV’s exterior and do not address it, you may find yourself facing potential damage from rust.
  • Rust can also compromise the interior of your rig. Excess humidity inside your RV can lead to rust around windows, door frames, appliances and more. If you live or spend time in a humid place, you know how quickly this can happen. 

As with most trouble, prevention is the key to ending the nightmare of rust. To prevent rust on their RV, owners should:

  • Rinse the RV’s undercarriage regularly, especially if it’s been exposed to road salt or other corrosive chemicals. If your RV is regularly exposed to sea salt, it’s a good idea to rinse the underside of the rig once a month. Experts recommend adding baking soda to your rinse water to help neutralize salt’s corrosive effect.
  • Keep your RV’s exterior clean. Make frequent checks to look for bubbles and small scratches that may indicate potential rust damage.
  • Regulate the inside humidity of your rig. You can run the air conditioner to remove excess humidity, or run a fan to increase airflow. An open ceiling vent will help the humidity escape more readily. A dehumidifier can also help.

If you discover rust anywhere on your RV, you can:

  • Remove small areas of rust with a wire brush or a small piece of sandpaper. Then touch up the cleaned area with a rust-inhibiting paint.
  • Ask a professional to check any large areas of rust you find, especially if it’s on the frame of your rig. Rust can weaken the integrity of your RV and render it unsafe to drive. Have it checked out before you hit the road again.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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Neal Davis
13 days ago

Thank you, Gail!

JL Simpson
17 days ago

How do you add baking soda to rinse water? Even using a pump sprayer would be difficult as baking soda is hard to keep in solution without constant agitation.

Stacey Stone
18 days ago

Rust also forms on metal that was poorly painted. Case in point is our Forest River (Flagstaff) camper frame. The manufacturers apply the cheapest coating to get it out the door and it may look good for a year or so, but degrades pretty fast after that. Our camper is 4-1/2 years old and the frame and rear bumper were looking poor. I used a 3 step “paint over rust” system from KBS Coatings to clean, neutralize the rust and paint, also with a top coat of a UV stable paint. It looks great now and hopefully for the life of the camper.

Tom E
18 days ago
Reply to  Stacey Stone

Couple years back we bought a used Coachmen Chaparral (also Forest River) from a Michigan owner who swears he never towed it in snow & salt. The entire frame had surface rust. For all I know it arrived new at the dealers completely rusted. So I took a similar four part rust removal, rust reduction, rust prevention primer, and finished black coating. Forest River uses Lippert pre-manufactured (single layer e-coated) frames to build on. I’m not sure if Forest River is at fault by specifying the frame coating or if it’s left up to Lippert. One thing is for sure. The complete rusty condition of a 4 year old frame speaks volumes to what Forest River considers a “throw-away” product. My HD Ram truck is the same age as the 5th wheel – not a spot of rust anywhere on its frame. And I’d pay the same for a new Ram truck as I would a new 5th wheel. Lippert has metal anodizing capability. So why not use it on Camper Trailer frames?

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