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Parking Near Salt Water

an RVer asks...
(Salt Water and RV Corrosion)

We are worried about parking near salt water. We are buying a Montana 5th wheel and want to camp very close to the beach so we can walk to the sand and sea. However, after chatting with several others on other forums, we have become concerned about the salt-sea mist, salt-sea air/wind, and salt-sea fog.

Others have told us the above items are very corrosive to all metal parts, whether painted or not, including our tow vehicle, the lower frame of the fifth-wheel, our bicycles, etc. It is even supposed to be rough on the fabrics in the trailer and tow vehicle. They say the metal items will begin to corrode and pit within two weeks and continue to get progressively worse unless washed regularly. Few campgrounds allow washing vehicles and campers and I can't picture washing the undercarriage of the RV every week anyway.

We figure we may have to camp well away from the beach to avoid the salt, since we don't want to corrode/rust $125,000 worth of truck and RV on which we can barely afford the payments in the first place).

So, two questions:

1) What experiences have you had with corrosion/rust, parking very close to beaches for a month or longer at a time?

2) What information do you have about "how far from the beach would we have to camp to avoid the above salt-carrying items?" (1 mile, 10 miles, 30 miles, etc?)

Thanks very much for any experiences you have had which may help with this concern.

Coleen, the RVing editor comments:

I asked Bob about parking near salt water, because he's the one in the family who takes care of our maintenance and repairs. This is his reply, "Yes, salt water and air near beaches is corrosive. The closer to the water, the worse it is. I don't know what to tell you is a safe distance."

We parked near salt water much of this winter, in various locations.

We spent about six weeks parked about three city blocks from the beach in Port Mansfield, Texas. Of that time, there were days when we were much closer to the water, because we were parked at the fishing piers. Bob says it was slightly corrosive. There were places in town for washing boats. Those boat washes were
outside, there to wash the salt-water and such off boats, and were situated to handle RV washing, as well. We mentioned running our motorhome through the wash there, but never did do it. Bob says we had some corrosion. But, he's diligent about maintenance. If he thought it was significant, he'd have actually washed the motorhome, not just mentioned it. I believe his comments are erring on the side of safety.

At the three blocks distance, we noticed the sea mist and fog. It left a scum on the windows that we regularly washed off.

Driving through beach sand, and even driving on highways next to the ocean, can have an effect on your running gear. Some private car washes have special bays for washing your running gear.

We also spent about six weeks at an RV park on a salt water canal. Some of that time, we were close enough to the water to have fished out the motorhome door. Because there wasn't much wind and wave action, that salt water wasn't a problem. The park was maybe three or four miles from the South Padre Island beaches. There were many high-dollar RVs in the park. This park (Park Centre in Port Isabel, TX) had a car wash as part of the facilities. It was large enough to accommodate large motorhomes and high fifth wheel trailers. It seemed that RVers would use it before entering the park, or before leaving, but I don't think people left their sites mid stay to go wash their rigs.

There are also mobile RV washing services. They bring their water with them in a large tank, so they are not using the campground's water. We saw a few people using this type service.

We also spent a few days at a state park near Corpus Christi, right on the beach. The wind was horrendous. Here, again, there were rigs of all kinds, some very expensive motorcoaches.

In the strictest sense, yes, salt water and salt water air does cause corrosion and that corrosion can start almost immediately. From a practical viewpoint, I don't think it is nearly as serious as you've heard on the forums. If it was, I don't think you'd see all those fancy RVs filling beach front resorts.

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Comments for Parking Near Salt Water

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RV Mechanic and RV Owner
by: Steve Delgrande

Rust and corrosion will certainly happen near any salt water environment. The best defense is to protect the undercarriage before you suffer rust damage.

Use Corrosion Free, they have all the products to stop rust and it is environmentally friendly. I use it on my Discovery bus. When I come back from the south to the north, my rig is covered in salt and the Corrosion Free protects it like new. I bought mine at

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