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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Are Overland Trucks More Susceptible to Corrosion?

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Maintaining your overland truck is essential for smooth operation. Wear and tear comes with the nature of overlanding, regardless of the terrain you’re driving on. While engine and suspension upkeep may grab your attention, rust and corrosion can inhibit your rig.

Are overland trucks more susceptible to corrosion over time? Here’s a guide on this chemical process and how to mitigate it.

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Are Overland Trucks More Susceptible to Corrosion?

Off-road travel on mountain road. Beautiful nature sunset

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Overlanding takes you on incredible adventures in national parks, beaches, mountains or dense forests. However, each destination allows moisture to infiltrate your overland truck and start the corrosion process.


Salt causes corrosion because overland trucks face it across multiple types of terrain. Imagine taking your truck to the beach and driving into shallow waters. The salty water and air will infiltrate your vehicle and bring moisture due to its hygroscopic properties. Research shows sea salt is especially hygroscopic due to its soluble electrolytes like chloride and sodium, thus raising concerns about your truck.

Another salty concern for your overland truck is the road salts used in winter conditions. Officials may salt the roads to lower the freezing point of precipitation when it hits the ground. While you benefit from safer roads, your overland truck pays the price.

The salts cause corrosion by damaging brake lines and chipping away paint. Stopping the effects of corrosion requires careful care and attention in your overland vehicles.

Exterior Damage

rusted off-road vehicle, close-up view on wing and wheel arch with heavy rust

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Because of the conditions they endure, overland vehicles corrode more often than your average trucks. Driving off-road means your machine is constantly exposed to the elements, causing the undercarriage to fill with mud and water. If left unattended, moisture and salt expedite the corrosion process in your suspension, battery terminals, skid plates and other vulnerable locations.

Typically, a truck’s paint serves as its best protection against corrosion. Small scrapes along the paint from kicked-up rocks or extra exposure to the elements are enough to expose the metal of the exterior panels, allowing rust to form. Truck owners must also consider the rough roads they drive on. Overlanding involves rock crawling and navigating harsh terrain that can damage your undercarriage.

Even tiny dents can hasten corrosion by ruining the paint job and making the metal vulnerable to mud, sand and saltwater. Experts say rust only needs four or five days to start forming, so your overland truck needs special attention to ensure it lasts a long time.

How Can You Prevent Corrosion in Your Overland Truck?

Caucasian Men Power Washing His Pickup Truck After Dirty Road Travel.

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While threats from corrosion exist, there are numerous mitigation tactics to extend your overland truck’s life span. These five measures effectively safeguard your vehicle from this disruptive chemical process.

Frequent Cleanings

One of the best deterrents for corrosion is frequent cleanings — this should occur after every trip to prevent water and salt from damaging your vehicle. Take your overland truck to a car wash or clean the vehicle yourself to remove mud, sand, salt and any source of moisture.

Of course, a car wash doesn’t compare to a more thorough cleaning. Placing your vehicle on jack stands makes it easier to remove the wheels and access the brakes, suspension and frame.

Start with a degreaser to loosen the dirty parts of your truck, then use a pressure washer to wash them away. While high-powered water spray is effective, use it from a safe distance or on a low setting to avoid damaging your paint job.

Scheduled Waxing

Polishing white truck

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Waxing is another effective strategy for corrosion prevention because it protects your paint job. The wax repels water, thus lessening the effects of moisture on overland trips. While not completely foolproof, waxing means water can’t easily penetrate the metal and start the corrosion process.

Experts say you should wax your vehicle twice annually or whenever the season changes. However, the standards change for your overland truck because of the rough conditions. If you take your big rig out every weekend, you may need to wax once monthly or bi-monthly. Regularly inspect your paint job to see how much wear and tear has occurred. Sun, snow and salt may cause you to check your overland truck more often.

Regular Battery Inspections

Battery terminal corrosion on automotive battery.

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Another area you should check for corrosion is your battery terminals. Due to chemical reactions, this instance occurs when sulfuric acid builds around the battery. There are a few ways your batteries can corrode, stemming from contact with air and metal. For example, your battery may emit hydrogen sulfide — a toxic gas you may know as the “rotten egg” smell.

Sometimes, battery corrosion occurs from lesser-known circumstances. Charging your battery is wise, but overcharging can lead to unfortunate consequences, such as electrolyte leaks and corrosion. Ensure your battery doesn’t exceed 14.8 volts, or you could risk seriously damaging your vehicle.

Regularly inspecting your overland truck’s electrical system can extend the battery terminal’s life and reduce wear. Each terminal requires cleaning to prevent buildup and equipment replacement if something goes wrong. If you don’t clean the electrical system, you could end up stranded with a dead battery.

Zinc Coating

Thanks to improved manufacturing practices, trucks are better at rust prevention than they used to be. For example, automakers use stainless steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, plastic and other metals to reduce corrosion. However, any parts made with traditional steel or iron are going to be more susceptible.

Consider galvanizing the steel on your overland truck with zinc spray, zinc coatings and other applications. When applying this substance, you protect your truck’s metal from moisture and oxygen, even though the zinc itself will corrode. You won’t need to reapply zinc coating often, but checking your vehicle to ensure it hasn’t worn is wise. Keep in mind that if you go this route, it can be more difficult to paint over the zinc.

Strong Materials

best bed racks of 2024

Overland trucks are sizable and often come with attachments and gear. Choose this equipment wisely to avoid damaging your vehicle with broken materials.

For instance, consider the bed racks you install on your truck. These additions are constantly exposed to the elements, and the manufacturer might not use corrosion-proof materials. Your overland trips might cause slight damage to the racks and make them vulnerable. Use bed racks with a powder coat to mitigate corrosion concerns and enhance reliability.

Protecting Your Truck From Corrosion

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Your overland truck sees bumpy and unforgiving terrain, sand, dirt, rain and ocean water, so protecting the metal is vital. Corrosion is difficult to see in your undercarriage and under the hood, emphasizing the need for protective measures. Use these five strategies to mitigate the risk of corrosion and extend the life of your overland truck.

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Author Bio

Jack Shaw is an accomplished automotive writer with a flair for adventure and a passion for all things off-road. Having written for notable sites such as Modded, Ford Muscle, Offroad Xtreme, and more, his articles are a testament to his knowledge and love for the automotive industry.

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