I just started noticing rust on my tube steps. I took them off, took them apart, sanded all the metal down until it was shiny again. Then hit it with 2 thick coats of rust inhibiting primer, then 2 coats of black Rust-Oleum spray paint. Reassembled the steps, painted the assembly with 2 coats of spray paint, and then put them back on the truck. A lot of work but they look great and are holding up against stones really well.
We have rough winters in NY too, its a never ending battle to beat rust.