RV Exterior Upkeep: Preventing Rust and Corrosion

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Owning an RV is like having a home on wheels, ready for adventure at any turn. But just like your house, it needs care to stay in good shape. The outside of your camper can face rust and corrosion if not looked after properly.

This wears down its strength and can lead to costly repairs over time.

Did you know that something as simple as washing your RV regularly can fight off rust? It’s true! Dirt and grime hold moisture against the metal, which leads to rust. By keeping it clean, you are one step ahead in the battle against corrosion.

Our blog will guide you on how to keep your RV exterior robust and reliable through proactive maintenance strategies.

Discover tips on using sandpaper and wire brushes correctly, when to apply protective coatings, and why greasing certain parts is crucial. Keep reading for practical solutions that promise peace of mind along with a shiny facade – because who doesn’t love their RV looking as great as it runs? Let’s get started on protecting your mobile haven!

Key Takeaways

  • Wash your RV often to stop rust from starting. Check it closely for any rusty spots and fix them right away.
  • Use special paints and coatings on your RV to make a shield against water and salt, which can cause rust.
  • If you camp by the ocean, take extra steps like using wax or sealant to protect your RV from salty air.

Understanding Rust and Corrosion in RVs

An old rusty RV parked in a damp environment.

Rust and corrosion pose real threats to the integrity of your recreational vehicle; they not only degrade its aesthetic appeal but can significantly shorten its lifespan. It’s critical for RV owners to grasp how these processes occur and their potential impact, as this knowledge is foundational in maintaining a sturdy and reliable home-on-wheels.

The Impact on Your RV’s Longevity

Keeping your RV free from rust and corrosion is key to making it last longer. If rust takes over, the metal parts of your RV can become weak. They might even break down. This could make your RV unsafe for driving.

Rust can also hurt how much money you get if you sell your motorhome.

To keep your camper in good shape, pay attention to any signs of rust or corroded spots. These problems tell you that your RV might be getting old and needs care right away. Fixing rusty parts fast means you can enjoy safe RVing adventures for many years to come.

Remember, a well-kept RV has more value and keeps everyone safe on the road!

Proactive Measures to Prevent Rust

A well-maintained RV parked under a protective canopy in a shaded area.

To safeguard your RV from the relentless onslaught of rust, engaging in proactive maintenance is a definitive step toward preserving its aesthetic appeal and structural integrity—stay tuned for effective strategies.

Regular Cleaning and Inspection

Keep your RV looking great and free from rust by cleaning it often. Dirt and grime can hide spots where rust starts, so washing your RV will help you see any trouble areas. Use soap made for vehicles, and pay extra attention to the underside and wheel wells where road salt or dirt might stick around.

Check over your RV regularly to catch rust before it spreads. Look at the roof, underbelly, and all corners closely. If you find rust, deal with it quickly. Sanding down the area to remove rust then covering it with primer helps a lot.

After that, apply a coat of paint matched to your RV’s color followed by a clear coat sealant for extra protection. Keep an eye on screws and other metal parts too because they can also get rusty.

Doing these things helps ensure your camper stays in top shape for many fun trips ahead!

Applying Protective Coatings

Covering your RV with a protective layer keeps it safe from rust. You can use special paints that stop rust before it starts. These are called rust-inhibiting paints or coatings, and they add an extra shield against water and dirt.

Think about undercoating in a can for the bottom parts of your RV that touch the ground. This helps a lot in keeping rust away.

Protective coverings work like magic shields on metals like iron or steel. They block bad stuff from touching the metal so it doesn’t start to corrode. If you go to places near the ocean, think about adding even tougher coatings because sea salt makes rusting happen faster.

Fiberglass on RVs

Fiberglass RVs require different care than metal-sided RVs. While many of the same rules apply, caring for the fiberglass panels requires slightly different instructions.

Cleaning Fiberglass RVs

You should never paint a fiberglass RV. Fiberglass has a special coating that is not suitable for painting. Instead, start with a cleaner such as Simple Green to remove dark spots. Scrub and rinse. If the spots remain, use a Magic Eraser to remove the spots. Do not press too hard or you will take off the protective coating from the fiberglass and expose it to breakdown. Also be careful not to damage your fiberglass RV panels with a pressure washer. A small electric pressure washer is best suited for cleaning RV sides. A gas-powered pressure washer can have too much pressure and if you get too close can cut right through the side of the RV.

Protecting Fiberglass RVs

After you’ve cleaned your fiberglass, you should apply a protective coating. Buy special fiberglass RV wax (boat wax works well too). This will protect any spots where the protective coating might have been scrubbed away, and also help protect it from UV rays of the sun.

Special Considerations for Coastal RVing

Living near the coast presents unique challenges for RV maintenance, but with our tailored strategies, you can guard your vehicle against the harsh effects of salty air and enjoy a lasting, corrosion-free adventure.

Additional Protective Measures Against Salty Air

Salt air can be tough on your RV, causing rust and corrosion. To protect your home on wheels, follow these tips:

  • Wash your RV often. Use fresh water to clean away salt buildup that can eat away at the metal.
  • Apply a rust inhibitor. This special spray or paint stops rust from starting or getting worse.
  • Use a protective coating. Put on wax or sealant to create a barrier against salty air.
  • Cover exposed metal. If you see any bare spots, cover them with the right paint or a zinc coating.
  • Check seals and joints. Make sure there are no gaps where salt air can sneak in and start causing trouble.
  • Keep an eye on the underside. This part of your RV gets hit with salty spray from the road; treat it with an undercoating product to keep it safe.
  • Protect your electronics. Use sprays that shield wires and connections from salty air damage.
  • Choose stainless steel hardware when possible. It stands up better to rust and salt damage than other types of metal.

Maintaining a Quiet and Vibration-free Experience in Your RV

Foam stripping is great for stopping windows in your RV from making noise. Put the strips around the window edges to keep them quiet. This helps because it stops air and small bits from moving, which often cause rattling sounds.

Taking care of your RV well means you won’t have as much trouble with noises or shakes. Check things like fasteners and rear suspension parts regularly. If they’re loose, tighten them up.

Keeping these parts in good shape will help stop vibrations and make your rides smooth and peaceful.


Keeping your RV free from rust and corrosion means you get to enjoy it for many more trips. Clean the outside often and look for scratches or bubbles that might lead to rust. Remember, things like salt air near the ocean can make rust problems worse, so give your RV extra care if you camp by the sea.

Wax sprays and undercoats are great ways to protect against rust. And don’t forget about moving parts – oil them regularly to keep everything smooth and quiet. Take good care of your RV’s exterior; it will thank you with years of adventure and fun!

For more detailed strategies on maintaining a quiet and vibration-free RV experience, check out our guide “Minimizing Noise and Vibration in Your RV.”


1. How do I stop my RV from getting rust?

To prevent your RV from rusting, use rust inhibitors and keep it painted. Also, check for any signs of corrosion and treat them with coarse grit sandpaper plus paint.

2. What is galvanic corrosion on campers?

Galvanic corrosion happens when different metals touch in the presence of an electrolyte like water, which causes one metal to corrode quicker than the other.

3. Can sacrificial anodes help protect my motorhome?

Yes, adding a sacrificial anode onto your RV will act as cathodic protection because it gets rusty first before other parts of your vehicle.

4. Is it important to use galvanized steel on my camper’s exterior?

Yes! It is very helpful because galvanized steel has zinc that protects against electrochemical reactions that make things rust.

5. Should I paint my fiberglass RV?

You should never use paint on the exterior of a fiberglass RV. The fiberglass panels are protected with a special coating that makes it difficult for the paint to stick. Instead, you should wash and wax the fiberglass to restore it to its original condition.

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