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How To Get Rid Of Rust On Your RV

rusted travel trailer parked on pavement with blue sky behind it - feature image for how to get rid of rust
Learn how to get rid of rust on your RV to keep it looking as good as new. Photo: Shutterstock

How Do You Keep Your RV Rust-Free?

It’s a good idea to inspect your RV for surface rust at least once a year, especially if you frequently park it near the ocean or drive down gravel or sand roads.

Surface rust often occurs on the frame of the RV and on the steps of the RV. If you find any surface rust during your inspection, it’s best to fix it as soon as possible. This is because rust tends to get worse as it oxidizes metal. 

Fortunately, surface rust is very easy to fix. You don’t need to be an RV technician to learn how to get rid of rust on your RV. In this article, I’ll walk you through the best way to fix surface rust on your RV so it will never come back. 

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What you’ll need to get rid of rust on your RV

Ridding your RV of rust requires a few items, some of which you may already have.

  1. Protective gloves and eye protection
  2. A wire or stiff nylon brush 
  3. Rust converter
  4. A small plastic container (a yogurt container works well for this)
  5. Tremclad or other metal paint
  6. Two good quality nylon bristle paint brushes (use appropriately sized brushes for your job)
  7. A damp rag 

Getting rid of surface rust on your RV

Now that you’ve assembled your tools, you can get to work. Before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to wear protective glasses and gloves. After you get your personal protective equipment on, here is what you’ll need to do to permanently get rid of rust on your RV.  

Step 1: Get rid of any loose material and dirt

Use a wire or stiff nylon brush to loosen and remove dirt and loose rust, and get rid of paint that looks like it’s starting to bubble because of rust beneath it. 

Step 2: Clean the previously rusty area thoroughly

Get all the dust and loose bits off the surface by wiping it with a damp cloth. Allow the area to thoroughly dry before proceeding with the next step.

Step 3: Apply rust converter

Rust converter is really neat stuff. It’s a synthetic polymer that converts existing rust into a black, paintable surface. Then it completely prevents the previously rusted metal from further rusting. Rust converter works best when the surface still has some rust on it, so you won’t need to sand the surface. Just make sure there are no large flakes of rust.  

Pour a little rust converter into your plastic container. Once it’s poured, you can’t reuse it, so start with a small amount. Dip your brush in and paint the affected surface with a generous coat.

Rust converter goes on with a bluish hue. When it dries, it turns jet black. For best results, you’ll need to apply two or three coats. Waiting 20-60 minutes between coats will allow the rust converter to thoroughly dry.

After the rust converter is cured, painting with metal paint (like Tremclad) is optional because the hardened rust converter will be black and protect the metal underneath it. 

Step 4: Paint with metal paint (optional)

Now you can go ahead and paint the previously rusty metal with metal paint that matches your paint. Allow to cure for six hours after applying. 

Track your RV maintenance

You should check your RV’s frame and steps for rust on a regular basis. If you find any rust in your inspection, it pays to deal with it quickly before it can spread further through the metal. 

If rust gets beneath the surface of the metal, you’ll have big problems that are much harder to deal with. Now that you know how to permanently get rid of rust on your RV, you’ll be able to avoid major problems.

Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.

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