Protecting Dry Van Trailers from Corrosion, Rust, and Environmental Damage

Dry van trailers face harsh conditions and corrosion; visit our Preventive Maintenance page for more info.

Published on
June 3, 2024
Protecting Dry Van Trailers

Dry van trailers are an essential component of the commercial trucking industry. However, these trailers are constantly exposed to harsh environmental conditions and corrosive elements that can compromise their structural integrity. In this article, we will discuss the causes of corrosion, the formation and impact of rust, and the environmental factors that can damage dry van trailers. For more information on our preventive maintenance services for trailers, please visit our Preventive Maintenance page here. 


Causes of Corrosion

Corrosion is the gradual deterioration of metal due to chemical reactions with its environment. Several factors contribute to corrosion in dry van trailers, including:

  • Moisture: Exposure to water and humidity accelerates the corrosion process by facilitating the formation of rust.
  • Salts: Road salt used for de-icing during winter months can corrode metal surfaces upon contact.
  • Chemicals: Contact with corrosive chemicals, such as those found in industrial pollutants or cargo residues, can promote corrosion.
  • Atmospheric Pollutants: Pollutants in the air, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, can react with metal surfaces and accelerate corrosion.

Types of Corrosion

Different types of corrosion can affect dry van trailers, each with its own characteristics and implications:

  • Galvanic Corrosion: Occurs when two dissimilar metals are in contact with each other in the presence of an electrolyte, leading to accelerated corrosion of the less noble metal.
  • Pitting Corrosion: Characterized by localized damage to the metal surface, forming small pits or holes that can compromise structural integrity.
  • Crevice Corrosion: Occurs in confined spaces or crevices where oxygen levels are depleted, leading to accelerated corrosion at the site.

Preventive Measures

To protect dry van trailers from corrosion, proactive measures should be implemented:

  • Regular Inspections: Conduct routine inspections to identify signs of corrosion early and address them promptly.
  • Surface Coatings: Apply protective coatings such as paints, primers, or corrosion-resistant sealants to create a barrier between the metal surface and corrosive elements.
  • Corrosion-Resistant Materials: Use corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel or aluminum for construction to minimize susceptibility to corrosion.


Understanding Rust Formation

Rust, also known as iron oxide, is the result of the oxidation of iron or steel in the presence of oxygen and moisture. The chemical reaction between iron, oxygen, and water leads to the formation of rust on metal surfaces.

Impact of Rust on Trailers

Rust can have significant implications for dry van trailers:

  • Structural Weakness: Rust weakens the metal structure of trailers, compromising their load-bearing capacity and overall integrity.
  • Reduced Lifespan: Untreated rust accelerates the deterioration of trailers, leading to premature failure and the need for costly repairs or replacements.
  • Safety Hazards: Rust can create sharp edges, protrusions, or weakened sections that pose safety risks to personnel and cargo during loading, unloading, and transportation.

Rust Prevention Techniques

To prevent rust and mitigate its effects on dry van trailers, the following techniques can be employed:

  • Protective Coatings: Apply rust-inhibiting paints, coatings, or corrosion-resistant primers to metal surfaces to create a protective barrier against moisture and oxygen.
  • Regular Cleaning: Keep trailers clean and dry to remove dirt, debris, and moisture that can promote rust formation.
  • Rust Inhibitors: Use chemical compounds or coatings that actively inhibit the formation and spread of rust on metal surfaces.

Environmental Damage

Environmental Factors

Dry van trailers are exposed to various environmental factors that can cause damage over time:

  • UV Radiation: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause fading, degradation, and deterioration of exterior surfaces and materials.
  • Extreme Temperatures: Fluctuations in temperature can cause expansion and contraction of materials, leading to cracks, warping, or weakening of trailer components.
  • Air Pollutants: Atmospheric pollutants such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides can react with trailer surfaces, leading to corrosion or degradation.

Effects of Environmental Damage

The effects of environmental damage on dry van trailers can be wide-ranging:

  • Fading Paint: UV radiation can cause paint to fade, peel, or degrade, compromising the aesthetic appeal and protective properties of the trailer.
  • Weakened Structural Integrity: Extreme temperatures and weather conditions can weaken metal components, leading to structural instability or failure.
  • Increased Maintenance Costs: Environmental damage necessitates more frequent maintenance, repairs, and replacements, leading to higher operational costs for trucking companies.

Maintenance Strategies

To mitigate environmental damage and preserve the integrity of dry van trailers, the following strategies can be implemented:

  • Proper Maintenance Practices: Implement regular cleaning, inspection, and maintenance schedules to identify and address environmental damage promptly.
  • Protective Coatings: Apply UV-resistant coatings, sealants, or paints to exterior surfaces to protect against UV radiation and environmental pollutants.
  • Sheltering Trailers: When not in use, store trailers in covered or sheltered areas to minimize exposure to harsh environmental conditions.

Safeguard Your Dry Van Trailers Today!

By using these preventive measures and strategies, trucking companies can effectively protect their dry van trailers from corrosion, rust, and environmental damage, ensuring their longevity and optimal performance throughout their service life. Safeguarding dry van trailers against corrosion, rust, and environmental damage is essential for maintaining the safety, reliability, and value of these valuable assets. By understanding the causes and effects of these threats and implementing proactive measures to prevent and mitigate them, trucking companies can optimize their operations and reduce costly downtime and repairs associated with trailer damage.

Our address

Fontana, California

Come in and say hello. 14962 Valley Blvd.  Monday - Friday 7:30am - 4:30pm