Semi trucks are exposed to some very harsh conditions as the vehicles travel down the road, resulting in damage to the exposed surfaces. Secondary fuel tanks help truck drivers complete their routes on time by avoiding unnecessary refueling stops. However, these aluminum tanks can also pick up dirt and corrode over time without proper maintenance.

Cleaning, polishing, and even painting your truck’s exterior mounted fuel tanks can extend their life and give your truck a cleaner and newer appearance. Make your choice about how to refinish your truck’s tanks with the facts below in mind.

Initial Polishing

No matter how you plan to finish or coat your fuel tank later, start with both cleaning and polishing. Without a smooth and clean surface, paint and various wrap materials can’t adhere properly to the surfaces of the tank. You can’t leave behind any flaking paint, rust, or corrosion and expect good results from painting or coating.

Tanks that are dirty but in relatively good shape may only need a basic cleaning before polishing. For tanks with extensive surface rust, corrosion, and pitting, you’ll want to start with an acid wash to loosen damaged material before sanding and polishing begins.

Acid Washing

Acid washes clean both the interior and exterior of an older and well-used fuel tank. This tank refinishing process is used widely across different repair and industrial industries for in-ground gas and diesel tanks, RV and truck tanks, and many other chemical holding units in need of refurbishment.

Dipping a tank into an acid bath strips off the outermost layer of metal to expose a new and fresh surface. While an acid bath isn’t enough alone to refinish a fuel tank, it’s an essential step in the polishing process.

Aluminum Painting

Choose to paint your fuel tanks and you can match them to the paint color of your truck for a camouflage effect. For a more eye-catching and creative design, choose a contrasting paint color for details like your fenders and exterior tanks.

Aluminum is a difficult material to paint, but proper surface preparation results in a good bond and durable finish. Experienced truck body technicians know to use an acid-based etching primer to prepare the surface of cleaned and polished aluminum to bond with a quality paint.

Future Buffing

Painting and coating your tanks is one option for protecting the surface of the metal, but you can also leave the aluminum or steel bare if you commit to future polishing and buffing. Mirror polished fuel tanks can look like high-end chrome accessories with professional treatment. Yet you’ll need to spend an hour or two a week on cleaning and buffing the tanks to keep them looking like new.

If you want to spend less time to keep your truck in good shape, painting or powder coating the tanks is a good choice. You can always choose a polished surface now and add a coating later after you settle on the right color.

Issues From Wrapping

Vinyl and stainless steel wraps are a popular option for making basic aluminum fuel tanks look high-end and new. However, you can’t install stainless steel materials directly above an aluminum surface because the dissimilar metals react to create serious corrosion problems.

Any tiny openings or tears in a vinyl tank wrap can allow moisture to seep in, resulting in the slow development of rust and corrosion. Paint is a better choice than vinyl since it bonds to the surface and prevents moisture from reaching the surface of the tank.

Update your truck’s fuel tanks for a fresh new look by investing in acid bath, polishing, and painting services from Downtown Garage & Auto Body.