Protecting Your Tandem Axle Trailer from Rust this Winter

November 21, 2019 by

Protecting Your Tandem Axle Trailer from Rust this Winter

Rust is a killer when it comes to your vehicles and trailers. Improvements in technology, bodywork, and paint mean that vehicles are less susceptible to rust but they are not immune to it. As soon as your paint job gets scratched or the bodywork of your vehicle or trailer is dented, the protection that the paint provides is compromised. A nick the size of a small stone can be the beginning of a serious rust problem on your tandem axle trailer if it is not dealt with quickly.

Trailers are often worked hard and put away wet, and that is not how you should treat expensive equipment that is central to your business or an important part of your lifestyle. Tandem axle trailers are regularly dragged over rugged terrain, taken on rocky roads to reach the best snow or used daily on construction sites. This means that they can easily get scratched, dented and damaged, making them more susceptible to rust as road salt comes into contact with the exposed metal of the bodywork. You need to pay as much attention to the cleaning and maintenance of your trailer as you do to your tow vehicle.


Road salt is used to melt ice and prevent it from building up on the road surface during the winter. That is a great help to drivers, making roads safer and improving driving conditions, but it is not great news for your trailer. Salt and metal objects do not get along well together. Anyone who lives in the “Rustbelt” will have seen first-hand the damage that exposure to salt can do to the bodywork of vehicles and trailers.

The basic science behind this bad relationship between salt and metal is because it aids the formation of ferric oxide, commonly known as rust. When unprotected metal makes contact with water and oxygen the result is a rust forming chemical reaction. That is bad enough but when you add salt to the equation, it lowers the electrical resistance of water and makes it easier for the chemical reaction to take place. This means that in any environment where you have a mixture of salt, water, and oxygen, rust is a very real threat. And what better place for the rusting process to take place than where your wheels meet the salty, wet, icy, snow-covered road – the underside of your tandem axle trailer.


Exposed metal rusts – there is no denying that fact. The best way to protect your trailer from rust is to keep it clean and well maintained. Inspect your trailer regularly, paying close attention to the undercarriage, and repair any damage, chips or bubbles and touch up small scratches as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the greater the damage and costs will be. Tiny areas of rust can be scraped off with a stiff wire brush and the area repainted with a rust-inhibiting paint. Larger rusted areas, however, will need to be repaired by a professional body shop.

Even if your trailer is not damaged or dented, road salt can still cause rust on the frame and joints, or even inside an enclosed trailer. Keeping your tandem axle trailer clean is essential if you want to prevent rust this winter. Just because your trailer isn’t covered in dust and grime, doesn’t mean it isn’t in need of a good clean. Rinse the underside of the trailer every time you have completed a trip on winter roads. If you live near the coast you need to wash your trailer at least once a month. Mixing baking soda with your rinse water will also help neutralize the corrosive power of the salt.

Good trailer maintenance is the best way to keep your wheels on the road through the winter. Contact McFarlane’s for all your trailer maintenance needs.