Rust is a major threat to optimum motorhome health – but it’s a threat that’s often overlooked.
Steel oxidation triggered by exposure to air moisture or water causes rust, and serious rust means serious repair bills.
If your motorhome hasn’t had a rust-proofing treatment, it’s likely that rust is already starting to creep in, even if it’s a relatively new vehicle.
The UK is notoriously cold and wet, especially during winter, making it hard to avoid damp conditions that hasten the spread of rust.
There’s no reason why your mobile home shouldn’t enjoy a long, happy life, but taking protective measures is necessary.
While the majority of house trailers come treated with basic rust-proofing, upgrading your vehicle’s rust-busting armour is a sure-fire way to improve its longevity – and preserve more of its value.
Motorhome Protect knows a thing or two about mobile homes. We specialise in arranging specialist motorhome insurance, giving you peace of mind your investment is protected by reliable cover.
We’ve got decades of experience and expertise – you’ll be in safe hands with us.
Take a look at our top rust-proofing tips and increase your mobile home’s lifespan today.
What’s the fuss about rust?
Many of us are guilty of forgetting certain practicalities.
When enjoying your motorhome, rust-proofing is unlikely to be your first concern, but it’s worth bearing in mind: extensive bodywork rust is one of the priciest items to repair, regardless of vehicle, make or model.
As we know, water can have an incredibly destructive effect on motorhome health, and is a key cause of rust.
Whether it’s moisture in the air, rain, ice or snow, if vulnerable sections of your vehicle are exposed to such elements – where water is present – the metal oxidises and rust will start to appear.
Water has an irritating ability to seep under paint and panels, causing corrosion in steel panels, as well as paint bubbling.
It expands upon freezing, which can cause even more damage to your recreational vehicle.
As rust is triggered by water, motorhome owners must take measures to block water ingress at all costs.
Metals can be categorised by their level of nobility – the ability to resist corrosion.
Platinum is at the top of the scale, but it’s unlikely you’ll be purchasing a platinum motorhome!
A recreational trailer is made up of various nuts, bolts and parts, incorporating different types of metal.
In dry conditions, two different kinds of metal coming into direct physical contact shouldn’t cause a problem, but when water – an electrolyte – is involved, rust can occur, causing major problems.
An electrolyte can be water in any form – even mist – and can cause an electrochemical reaction to occur, resulting in one of the two metals corroding.
One metal will cannibalise the other and, potentially, this could mean costly repairs.
For example, if a nut and a bolt are made from two differing metals and they come into contact with water, their threads can become irreversibly welded together by rust, requiring complete removal.
Stainless steel possesses greater rust resistance than mild steel and aluminium, so find out more about the materials used in the construction of your desired model before you commit, and learn how to protect it.
Most motorhomes travel around 10,000 miles a year at most, so the expected lifespan is generous – there are plenty of 20-year-old house trailers on the roads.
Rust-proofing is a simple yet effective way of boosting a vehicle’s lifespan even further. Combine this with quality motorhome insurance and you’ll be one savvy motorhome owner.
Road debris, condensation and salt
Rust’s best friend? Stone chips.
These are a key cause of paintwork wear and tear, filing away at a motorhome’s outer coating and creating the perfect weak spots for rust to take hold.
Stone chips are so effective at erosion that they can even erode the tough zinc coating on galvanised panels, making way for road debris and water ingress.
The areas of your recreational vehicle most vulnerable to rust tend to be the frame, joints and undercarriage, due to their proximity to the road.
Don’t make the mistake of believing your house trailer’s interior is invulnerable to rust, though.
Window frames, appliances and furniture can also start to corrode, due to the build-up of condensation inside your motorhome.
During wintertime in the UK, road salt is widely used as a safety measure, fighting ice on the roads.
While this is all well and good, the combination of melted ice and salt causes electro-chemical reactions to occur, ramping up the pace of oxidation.
Avoid lengthy periods of time camping or travelling in coastal areas, as there is an increased level of salt present, hastening corrosion.
Base vehicle rust-proofing treatments are improving, but they’re unlikely to go the extra mile when it comes to protecting your recreational vehicle.
Whether or not your motorhome comes with a basic level of rust-proofing, don’t make the mistake of overlooking the threat rust poses.
Whatever age your house trailer is, it’s likely rust is already starting to appear, so extra protection is a must, alongside quality motorhome insurance.
Many motorhome owners don’t think to check underneath their vehicles, and ignore little patches of surface rusting around joints and seams.
Act now and take care of your investment.
Is it worth doing yourself?
While a professional rust-proofing treatment is the gold standard, not everyone’s budget can stretch to it.
Worry not, as there are plenty of DIY kits on the market, such as Dinitrol and Waxoyl.
Rust-proofing solvents are a popular choice, as they enable better dispersal of the rust-proofing solution.
You can focus on areas most heavily exposed to water and road debris – for example, underneath the wheel arches – directly spraying and covering them in a thick layer of product to give maximum protection.
Spray thinner layers into any accessible body cavities, as well.
Realistically, you can only get so far with DIY rust-proofing, as you won’t have the specialist tools the pros use.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to reach and fully coat all cavities, even when using the best DIY solvents.
While you can purchase rust-proofing products which come with hand-pressurised pumps, these can only perform so well.
Heating the solvent before use will increase its flow, but its reach will still be limited – for example, DIY products can’t cover the entirety of lengthy chassis rails.
DIY rust-proofing is also a messy affair. You’ll need to fully clean your vehicle, including the underside – no easy feat without a jet washing facility.
Professionals can have your house trailer elevated, which allows for thorough cleaning.
You’ll need to position your motorhome on tarpaulin before you treat it, as your chosen product will spread everywhere.
You don’t want to inhale it or get any in your eyes, so wearing eye protection, a mask and overalls is an essential safety precaution.
Of course, if your budget’s tight, DIY rust-proofing is a worthwhile pursuit.
You’ll need to repeat the process annually; after a few reapplications, the cost savings between DIY and professional treatments dwindle, so do consider going down the pro route.
A typical professional treatment will include the following four steps:
- Thorough inspection, checking for any components or areas calling for repair before the rust-proofing treatment.
- Mask off any sensitive electrical and mechanical areas in need of protection during the process.
- The motorhome is washed, typically with a high-pressure air hose, which will effectively remove accumulations of grease, flaking paint and dirt, providing an optimum surface for rust-proofing.
- The treatment is applied. The types of treatment applied will vary depending on the area being treated – for example, the undercarriage and chassis are likely to be treated with a thicker solution, as these areas face more exposure, so need a more durable protective layer.
The cost of rust-proofing
A can of Dinitrol only costs around £11.99, but your money is better spent on a longer-lasting professional treatment.
Professionally treating a small recreational trailer up to 20ft will cost around £550-700, while a larger motorhome will likely cost upwards of £700.
A rust-proofing treatment for coach-sized motorhomes will cost around £1,000, minimum.
Most professional treatments come with a five-year guarantee – well worth the investment considering the impact one treatment will have on your mobile home’s longevity.
Before you book in, make sure you have reliable motorhome insurance in case any damage occurs in your absence.
Check you know what’s included in a professional rust-proofing treatment, as some providers will offer different service levels, priced on a sliding scale.
Cheap rust-busting cheats
While the best rust-fighting measure is a professional treatment, not everyone can afford it.
Here are three handy rust-busting products, useful for those on a budget:
This product is often used on boats exposed to seawater, making it a great choice for those looking to rust-proof their motorhomes.
It helps fight the corrosion that occurs when dissimilar metals are used in tandem, and comes in both spray and paste form.
A good choice for nuts and bolts, Loctite Blue, also known as a thread locker, helps protect threads from rusting and fights off water ingress.
You can even slather a little Vaseline on rust-prone areas, if your budget calls for it.
Coating vulnerable areas with Vaseline helps keep water out and rust at bay.
Winter-proofing equals rust-proofing
Aside from a DIY treatment, there are a few simple steps you can take to rust-bust throughout winter – the harshest season.
Winter is the season of rain, sleet and snow, so conditions are damp.
As rust is primarily caused by water, combating water ingress boosts your recreational trailer’s rust-resistance. Let’s get winter-proofing:
When out and about
After driving on winter roads, make sure you wash your entire vehicle straight away to get rid of any road salt.
Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance
Regularly perform a visual check of your house trailer and keep an eye on the paintwork, getting any chips or bubbles fixed right away.
If you allow chipped paintwork to go untreated, it gives water far more scope to infiltrate your mobile home and the rust will quickly spread – keep up paintwork maintenance all year round.
Cover locker hinges with silicone oil and purchase a budget-friendly hydrometer, scanning your vehicle for any signs of water ingress or damp and targeting weak spots straight away.
If you won’t be driving your motorhome during the colder months, get a breathable, water and UV-proof cover to combat damp.
If you’re able to, keep the windows ajar to let trapped air out and fresh air in.
Should your budget allow for it, keep a thermostatically operated heater going, set just above freezing temperature.
Store your motorhome in a warm, dry and sheltered place away from rain, hail, sleet and other harsh weather conditions.
Make sure you have dependable motorhome insurance – you can rust and winter-proof your house trailer but you can never predict when theft or damage might occur.
Looking after your investment
A mobile home is much more than a vehicle – Motorhome Protect understands this.
While plenty of clever measures can be taken to rust and winter-proof valuable motorhomes, unexpected problems can never be ruled out.
Mobile homes are larger than the average vehicle, and may be more vulnerable to risks such as road accidents.
Savvy motorhome owners need to ensure they have reliable cover that protects their investment.
Motorhome Protect can help, finding you specialist motorhome insurance suited to your needs and budget.
Our cover may include benefits such as:
- Unlimited mileage cover
- Unlimited cover across all EU countries
- Up to £3,000 cover of camping personal effects
- Cover for motorhomes with a value up to £150,000
We want you to enjoy your recreational trailer, stress-free.
There’s a reason mobile homes are rising in popularity: they enable people to take budget-friendly trips with ease, camping in a diverse range of beautiful locations. What’s not to love?
Make the most of your mobile home and give yourself peace of mind – get a quote today.