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Technology Dealing with vehicle rust and boosting trailer-load capacity

I would like Lou’s advice on how to deal with rust on my Tiguan 2010. – Susan S

The easiest way to deal with corrosion is to prevent it, but once it’s present, there are many paths to repair it. Most obviously seen on white vehicles, the simplest form of rust appears as orange specs and flecks visible in the paint. Referred to as IFO, industrial fallout is the accumulation of small airborne metal particles that settle on your car. After sitting unattended, they will bond to the paint and become problematic, seen as a growing rust spots, eventually damaging the paint and metal underneath. Most car-detailing shops will offer a clay bar service that will remove the majority of the flecks, restoring the paint surface to its natural, smooth, unblemished state.

The next level of rust is when the paint is actually damaged and varies from minor bubbling to complete perforation. If the corrosion you are seeing is of the latter, then first check with Volkswagen for any remaining corrosion perforation warranty that might still remain on vehicle.

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Depending on your DIY skill level, simple rust can be tackled at home, but be patient as results vary depending on your attention to detail. A quick search online will net you countless video tutorials on the subject. If you are not comfortable with tackling it yourself, then start searching for a body shop. Dealing with it earlier will always yield superior long-term results.


My utility trailer has a 2,990 pound (1356 kilogram) load rating. Could adding a spring bring the capacity closer to the 3500 pound limit? – Clark

The 3500-pound weight you are referring to stipulates the maximum weight the trailer axle itself is capable of carrying, not your total carrying capacity. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum weight that a fully loaded trailer can legally operate on the road, which includes the weight of the trailer. If we assume 510 pounds (231 kg) as the weight of the trailer and subtract that from the total 3500-pound axle capacity, you will arrive at your trailers overall 2990-pound GVWR.

Add-on helper springs are readily available, but their use is commonly misunderstood. Adding an additional spring will make your trailer appear that it is capable of taking more as it does not sag as much under load. However, they are only designed to reduce sway and provide extra support, not add extra loading capacity. You are still limited by the axle. While a great idea for towing stability, their use typically leads to trailers that are overloaded. An overloaded trailer will suffer premature bearing failure, axle breakage and general poor towing characteristics, and is simply not safe.

If you are finding that your regular payloads put you close to your trailer’s GVWR, then you need to start thinking about a bigger, heavier duty trailer.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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