Are VW vans Galvanised? (what to do if it is not)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Are VW vans Galvanised? We will explain what a galvanised van is, why it is important and what to do if your VW van starts to show signs of rust!

Are VW vans Galvanised?

According to the manufacturer, all VW vans are galvanised. This is, in fact, what makes Volkswagen vehicles stand among its competitors: all VW vehicles except the Polos, are galvanised and protected by a multi-layer paint system.

Galvanized steel is a material that is commonly used in metal construction. It offers excellent value for money. If the steel is no longer protected properly and ends up rusting. It is then necessary to use specific paints to effectively protect the galvanized against rust.

Here are some facts about galvanised VW vans to keep in mind: 

  • Reliable protection of the vehicle body by galvanizing is possible only with expensive models, since it is not recommended to invest in finance in budget options, they simply will not pay for themselves.
  • In today’s world, the lifespan of a van is much worse than 10-20 years ago. If vehicles produced in the 1990s were made for decades, today this period is shortened to 7 years, after which the van can be sent for recycling. 
  • Therefore, we should not believe dealers who claim that the operational life of any new model is at least 10 years because its body is galvanized – this is a marketing strategy, nothing more.

What are the advantages of a galvanised van?

The biggest advantage of galvanizing vehicle components or bodywork is that it provides optimum protection against rust. Car manufacturers are also aware of this. With better quality vehicles, they may be fully galvanized at the factory. 

However, this is far from the rule for inexpensive vehicles and especially for individual components, even today. Under certain circumstances, the components and even the body can be galvanized afterwards. 

From simple zinc spraying to “real” galvanization. It is particularly beneficial on certain parts of the body because it is the most exposed to environmental conditions and therefore very susceptible to rust.

What does it mean to galvanize a vehicle?

As a rule, after 4 years of vehicle operation, corrosion appears on the body of the vehicle, causing rotting of the iron. The elements most frequently affected are the thresholds, the wings and the bottom. 

To prevent the occurrence of corrosion, increase resistance to mechanical stress and adverse environmental factors, the vehicles are galvanized. This is a procedure in which the body undergoes special treatment. When damage occurs, corrosion destroys only the zinc.

Before exploring the list of galvanized cars, you should familiarize yourself with the varieties, of which there are only three:

  1. Hot
  2. Galvanic
  3. Zincrometall.

Hot-dip galvanizing is considered the best method. It gives the body a high resistance to corrosion, which makes the iron less susceptible to mechanical damage and even has the property of partial regeneration.

Galvanic treatment is a bit worse, but it is also often used by manufacturers. Ideal with paint and primer. 

Zincrometall is significantly worse than the first two options. It has weak anti-corrosion properties, as the metal only has an elastic coating on a zinc base. 

If a vehicle is not galvanised, the risk of rust increases!

Why is rust on the van so destructive?

As explained above, rust is a combination of iron and oxygen. The developing iron oxide molecule changes the composition and no longer forms a sealed surface. Iron rust creates a fine powder with no mechanical bond to the base material. 

Aluminium acts differently. The oxide creates a sealed surface that protects the base material from rusting. This is not the case with iron.

The most important thing is to prevent the appearance of rust in the van in advance. As described above, rust needs a weak point. It must gain access to bare metal to start its destructive effect. When buying a used car, it is helpful to take information about the corrosion sensitive areas of a particular model.

On vans, door handle holes and interior panels are often not sealed. If you bought a model with some traces of rust, it is advisable to disassemble these parts and apply rust protection to the holes. This operation could significantly extend the life of the vehicle.

This applies to every single scratch and dent you might see on the vehicle. The golden rule is immediate sealing! As long as the rust on the car is only present on the surface, it can be combated. The deeper you let it penetrate, the more work you will have to remove it.

TIP: When buying a used van, it is a good idea to perform an endoscopic search for ledges and hollow beams in addition to preventive sealing of the cavities. This will prevent you from surprises. Corrosion in these areas is particularly expensive to repair.

What to do if your VW van shows signs of rusting?

The location of rust damage is critical. There are three ways to repair a corroded area:

  • replacement of the affected part
  • Plugging
  • welding

Replacement makes sense when the damage has progressed and the part can be replaced quickly, such as the hood and front fenders. The doors and the trunk lid are usually also often replaceable, although these parts require significant adaptations: changing the locks of the doors and power windows in a door panel is a lot of work. 

This is why plugging and levelling the doors is often attempted first. The advantage of removable parts is that they have no connection with the stability of the car. Plugging and grinding can be undertaken without risk.

For plugging, start by sanding the entire corroded surface, and expose the metal. A steel brush and a rust converter can speed up this process. An adhesive layer can then be applied to the area, which will then be filled with a mixture of sealant and hardener.

After filling and hardening, sand. First roughly, then with a fine paper to reconstruct the original contours of the body. Then apply primer and paint the original colour of the van to finish the job. Creating an invisible transition is an art that takes skill and experience. It is therefore important to practice butting, painting and polishing an old car fender before starting work.

The bottom line

Galvanised vans are what the Volkswagen group is most proud of. However, if your VW shows signs of rust after a few years of good use, worry not – it is possible and totally fixable. If the above steps are a bit unclear or seem too hard to follow, maybe you are best to take your VW van to an authorised mechanic and get the issue solved in no time.

If we can be of any further help, please let us know!

FAQ on Are VW vans Galvanised?

Are VW Transporters galvanized?

Yes, VW Transporters are galvanized. These vans are among the easiest to transform into a family camper, and one of the most reliable models on the market, even today.

Are VW vans expensive to maintain?

VW vans are quite expensive to maintain, costing about $7800 for the first decade of life. Still, there are more costly brands on the market, such as Chevrolet, Jeep or Ford vans. 

Why are VW vans so popular?

VW vans are popular because they are reliable, built from high-quality material, and have a good price for the amount of space that they offer!


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