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Steel trailer maintenance?

I have a brand new Balanced Ride trailer after having only ever owned aluminum framed trailers. I understand that steel frames with aluminum skin have a higher tendency to rust than aluminum on aluminum. Is there anything I can or should add to annual upkeep over what you would usually do with an all aluminum?

For reference, I’m in the western plains, so humidity and road salt are of very little concern.

Contact Balanced Ride for their suggestions. Merhow said to wash mine when possible and wax it once a year even though it is clear coated. I have a designated wash bay for my trailer; so unless it is below freezing, I wash mine out after each use, and wash it entirely about once a month. My neighbor kids put three coats of wax on it this year.

Keep an eye out for rust --and address as soon as you see it --but FYI I had a 20 year old Merhow before I bought my current one. It had a little corrosion behind the back wheels —I had it patched with some aluminum --and sealed it --the corroded part was covered but not cut out. Should last another 20 years --I disclosed to the buyer –

Personally, I think washing and waxing is the key to keeping rust/corrosion at bay. My trailer sits out 24/7 and looks new --but then so did the 20 year old trailer I sold. I see it each week as it went to a hunt club member.


I think Foxglove nailed it, only want to add that parking it on gravel/ pavement (vs on grass/ vegetation) will help it age better as well (so will keeping it parked under a roof but I know that isn’t possible for most people).

I am pretty sure the environmentalists will flame me —-

I still have the 1987 Ponderosa 4-horse open stock steel trailer that I bought new in 1987. It has never had the privilege of sitting in a building. All it has is surface rust.

I kept the undercarriage, seams and hinges oiled with bar & chain oil. When I lived in PA, it and my old GMC (still have that too) went to the oiler every Fall.

Yes it dripped for a day or two when I first brought it home, so I parked it in the gravel next to the garage.

Wash and wax the body all you want to but, If you want to save the frame, get it oiled.

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I’ve got mine parked on rubber mats (used stall mats bought for cheap off craigslist) over grass, instead of on gravel. Works great.

I don’t live where much rust or road salt or monsoon season or real winter or any of that is a thing.

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That’s interesting. So someone offers this service? I’ll have to google.


That was back in the 90’s, when I lived on the OH/PA border. If someone does it now, it’s likely under the radar and you’d have to know someone who knows someone.

The guy I went to had a 1950’s era gas station with a matching hoist. He had to back my trailer onto the hoist, disconnect from my truck, and raise it just enough for him to get down in the pit and start spraying.

He was completely covered in his “oiling suit”, including a helmet.

He had an air compressor and spraying attachments especially for the oil. If I remember correctly, he had to modify the nozzle to let the oil come thru without clogging.

He started out using used motor oil, but went to bar & chain oil for chainsaws.

I’ve redone the wiring twice and a new floor three times. The paint is oxidized but the trailer is solid. It still sits outside but my horses and I are now retired so it stays covered with a boat tarp.

An alternative to this is Fluid Film. I have a rodent-deterring version of this on mine, sprayed on by my trailer service providers.

Additionally, I use a cordless leaf blower to blow out excess standing water after washing out the interior.



So this is a once a year type thing? I’m all about DIY; I do my own bearings, brakes, etc. So I just assumed I would have to add something else for me to do haha. But if it’s something to take in to a shop for, that makes more sense :crazy_face:

Mine is now on its third season, but I haven’t done a lot of hauling in snow and wet weather in that time frame.

It’s definitely something you can do yourself; plenty of YouTube videos on how to do it on cars. Easier on a trailer undercarriage, but still pretty messy.

I left the messy project to the people with a lift. Wasn’t looking forward to a face full of fluid film.


I’m learning so much here :grimacing:

I have a 2yo Equispirit and never even considered having to prevent rust. There’s no way I’m hand waxing this beast (it’s a 5H H2H). Does a spray on wax work for the outside? Should I pay someone to hand wax it? I’m in CA so prefer not to wash it too much to save water :roll_eyes: but I’m very close to the coast with a lot of salty fog. I do use shavings when I haul and clean out manure/wet shavings immediately after I use the trailer.

Curious as well. Turns out I have no idea how to maintain this beast :grimacing: I was lazy with the aluminum trailer but it also didn’t need much. This new one is the coolest thing I’ve ever purchased and want to treat it right. I can imagine I’ll let someone else do the waxing…

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Our trailer is about 30 years old and we’ve never done anything for it; it’s starting to have some rust on the side seams where they meet the floor but not rusting away by any stretch. We clean it about once a year pull the mats, tires/bearings/brakes but very minimal. It’s an all steel 20 foot stock and we’ve had it for 20 years or so. We don’t pull it much in the winter and we have usually lived in “dry cold/heat” climates in MT but here I’ve never heard of oiling. DH works in steel fab and now truck drive/plow driver, that was new to him too and suspected pulling on treating roads maybe that would be useful. Our horse trailer is a beast; it’s not had an easy life between our climate and all the gazillions of gravel roads it’s been on but it just keeps going. If we painted it, which I’m considering, it would look nearly new.


My stock trailer is a Ponderosa. They were known for rusting out quickly. When mine was ten years old, someone in the trailer business commented that I probably had the only one left that was road worthy, lol.

Being a single mom in 1987, my horse funds were limited. I bought an inexpensive trailer and spent $40 every Fall to get it oiled. That was worth every penny on the OH/PA border where salt is Road King in the winter.

FWIW, the same oiler also drilled the rocker panels on my 1978 GMC, filled the rockers with oil and capped the holes. I still have that truck & the trailer. The truck runs and the rockers still have oil in them :cowboy_hat_face::cowboy_hat_face:


For all the rubber and stuff on and around the windows, one should use a liquid wax/spray wax on a trailer. Unless you don’t mind them having a white film, or want to tape it off.

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I have a 1997 Sundowner that is all steel. It was garage kept and forgotten about for awhile but after I bought it I use it weekly. I wash it at least twice a year, do a inspection of the floors and frame, and treat/cover any rust.