Battling Corrosion

Methods for preventing and controlling corrosion on vehicles and equipment

Including a regular washing and cleaning schedule with routine preventive maintenance will further contribute to extending the life of the investment in a vehicle equipment, as well as promote a company's image, according to Jim Hill, president of JIM Mfg., a manufacturer of mobile brush wash systems.

Regular fleet washing, especially in winter conditions, gets rid of the road grime, salt and dirt build-up that can contribute to premature wear on dozens of vehicle parts, along with wear on the exterior finish, he says. Plus, a dirty surface has more drag than a clean one, so keeping a vehicle clean will save money on fuel over time.

Beyond that, a clean vehicle makes a more positive impression than a dirty one. "A clean fleet directly reflects positively on an operator," says Hill. "The vehicles represent the company to the public and customers.

There's a reasonable assumption that if a company is committed to this level of maintenance, there's an equal commitment to overall maintenance. By extension, this contributes to an overall positive impression of the company."

Eastwood Company's Murray also recommends regularly washing vehicles and applying salt neutralizing chemicals to areas of the vehicles that are most susceptible to rust and corrosion – fender wells, floors, rocker panels, bottoms of doors, suspension components, etc.

"Also make a habit of periodically checking the fleet for any signs of rust or corrosion and treat the areas as soon as possible," Murray says. "Top coat the areas that are treated with a good sealing paint to keep the corrosion or rust from spreading."

Protective coatings are the most widely used corrosion control technique. Essentially, protective coatings are a means for separating the surfaces that are susceptible to corrosion from factors in the environment which causes corrosion to occur. It should be noted that protective coatings can never provide 100 percent protection of 100 percent of the surface.

Top 10 ways to fight corrosion

Here are some key suggestions for fighting electrical system corrosion from Adam Bean, new product development manager for Phillips Industries.

1. Use heavy duty, adhesive-lined heat shrink tubing or heat shrink terminals on all electrical connections. This ensures a water-tight seal, additional tensile strength and sealed connectors to prevent contaminants from corroding the wire while maintaining the integrity of the electrical system. Tip: Keep a terminal repair kit in each truck for on-the-go maintenance.

2. Use an anti-corrosive protector spray on battery posts and terminals. This actively seals the metal's surface, preventing condensation, chemicals and battery acid from corroding the battery.

3. Always make sure ground leads go directly to the negative battery post. Grounding to chassis or engine will lead to corrosion, poor contacts and faulty electrical systems.

4. Use stowage devices when electrical and air coils are not in use for extended periods of time. This ensures that they stay a safe distance from destruction chemicals and water on the road.

5. Keep an anti-corrosion repair kit in trailers for corrosion preventative maintenance. These kits help drivers stop wire corrosion and make permanent repairs on the road, minimizing downtime.

6. Never puncture a hole in the wiring jacketing. Holes create leak paths for contaminants to "wick" into the wiring system, ultimately rotting wires from the inside out.

7. Wash equipment frequently to significantly reduce magnesium and calcium chloride build-up during cold weather. Do not power wash as water can be forced into areas and cannot escape, leading to corrosion.

8. Clean connectors every six months using a plug and socket brush with water - not soap.

9. After every cleaning, re-apply dielectric grease on plug and socket pins. This prevents the moisture deposited during the cleaning process from collection and eventually corroding.

10. Inspect cables and wiring regularly for early detection of corrosion. This offers a head start at recognizing and combating possible corrosive damage.

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