Is a rusty propane tank a safety concern?


Dear RV Shrink:
rvshrinkWe just stopped for propane and the guy wouldn’t fill us. He told my husband our attached tank did not look healthy enough.

We have a Class B Sprinter with about 100,000 miles on it. We bought it used and the tank does have some surface rust. This guy poked it a bit and a big chunk of paint came off leaving an ugly rusted area near the fill cap. My husband just tried another propane station and the kid filled us up, no questions asked.

I’m nervous, but my husband says the first guy was just over-cautious. Are we on borrowed time? Please answer quick — the tank seems to be located under my seat. —Overwrought and Under Pressure in Portland

Dear Overwrought:
It sounds like you need a second, professional opinion — and I would do it at the next available propane dealer. I don’t have all the facts here. Is the tank even date stamped for a legal fill? A rig with 100,000 miles could mean old or just well-traveled.

All underbelly tanks get rusted, some more than others, depending on salt conditions. It’s a good idea to wire brush them once a year, shoot some Rustoleum on them, and inspect them for any damage.

Most underbelly tanks are thicker than regular bottles, some up to 1/2 inch. If you are just losing surface paint it could be fine, but a propane dealer would be a better judge of your condition with a hands-on inspection.

Even if your husband is confident you have no issue, it might make you feel better to hear it from a guy that works with equipment like yours everyday. If it is outdated, it can be inspected and re-stamped, it can often be reconditioned or, worst case scenario, it can be replaced with a new tank. —Keep Smilin’, RV Shrink


3 Thoughts to “Is a rusty propane tank a safety concern?”

  1. Wayne Justice

    Yes, but even if a tank is in good condition be aware to check tne mounting straps and mount area. We had a tank on a 91 class C fall out while traveling down the road. The mounting was carriage bolts thru the wood floor. In time these bolts had worked their way thru the wood and allowed the tank to drop. I was able to make temporary repair on road. Then installed metal braces out of angle iron. It was a scary time for sure.

  2. Bill

    That applies to DOT tanks, the ones that are removable. The ASME tanks that are fixed in most motorhomes do not require recertification, but inspection and painting are still a good idea.

  3. Patrick Granahan

    Federal law requires a tank recertification of any tank after 10 years. Most propane dealers do not look at tank’s date stamp if tank is well maintained.
    A little spray paint goes a long way!!!

Comments are closed.