Cosmetic issues such as rust, chipped paint, paint discoloration are nothing new to laundry appliances. After all, we as consumers tend to use the tops of the dryer in particular as storage places for some rather nasty chemicals (take a look at the stuff you put in your laundry and how nasty it can be). But in reality, the manufactures know this and do some good work making sure the longterm appearance of their products is taken into account because no one wants to look at blemishes on their expensive appliances.
So whenever I see a clothes dryer rusting, I find it necessary to start asking some questions like why is the paint chipping in the first place? Clothes dryers get hot. It really is what they are designed for. Warm up some air, toss some wet clothes around in it and before you know it, the clothes are dry. But this heat can get much higher than planned when there is poor airflow for the dryer. As I like to say, how you dryer breathes has everything do do with how well it works, how long it will work, and in this case, what it will look like.
As the dryer heats, the air carries this heat through the clothes and by evaporation removes the moisture and on to the outside. A well breathing dryer will carry away as much heat as the heat source produces and thus the dryer becomes very efficient. But if the airflow is somehow disrupted, well this heat will spike and build inside the dryer cavity. The manufactures know the potential for this and thus create housings to keep us safe and safety devices to prevent a fire from breaking out. But this excess heat over time can cause damage to the paint on the dryer, especially to the paint on the top where the heat collects.
When this paint begins to blister, it flakes away revealing an untreated steel top. And we all know what happens to steel when exposed to air and moisture, two things that are ubiquitous in laundry rooms. So it is no wonder that I would find a dryer rusting and discover that the venting is really the cause of the problem. Not much can be done to the top other than replacement or maybe some body work, but at least this dryer is breathing better after a good vent cleaning.