Wintertime and Road Salt: Can Salt Damage Your Car?October 30, 2019 11:08 pm Leave your thoughts
Once freezing winter temperatures arrive, the road salt comes out. Your city will apply salt to paved surfaces like roadways, parking lots and sidewalks in an effort to prevent slipping and skidding that can lead to accidents or injuries. But can salt damage your car? Yes—it can cause problems if grains remain on your vehicle too long. Anything from peeling paint to corroding metal parts is possible. Here’s what you need to know about road salt and how to prevent rust and other damage this winter.
Road salt is not table salt
Even though this type of salt is mined from the earth, you cannot eat it. The salt used for deicing roads isn’t processed to remove inedible chemicals, and it is treated with anti-caking chemicals so trucks can grab big scoops and work quickly. This salt will likely continue to be used instead of a biodegradable or compostable material thanks to its affordability and effectiveness at battling ice.
Why salt is used on roads
Most everyone knows that salt can make an icy road easier to drive on, but they may not know why cities choose to use this mineral for this purpose. Because salt lowers the freezing point of water, ice and snow can melt even when the outdoor air is below 32 degrees. Cities that salt their roads send trucks filled with a salt and sand mixture all over town to apply the mix ahead of big storms. This makes driving surfaces safer. This effort is great for traction, but not so much for your vehicle.
What it can do to your car
Salt is a corrosive mineral. When it touches metal surfaces, it accelerates rust formation. Your car’s paint job might be okay if salt makes contact with it. However, salt can get into deep scratches that lead down to the metal. The area you need to worry about is the undercarriage, where important vehicle components are kept. All the parts housed under there—the brakes, transmission and more—are exposed as you drive your car over snow and ice. Over time, this kind of exposure poses risks to your vehicle’s appearance and overall safety.
Preventing and combating salt damage
You may not be able to avoid driving through areas with salted roads, but you can at least attempt to combat the ill effects of salt contact. Here are some tips to battle salt this winter and increase the lifespan of your vehicle:
- Salt can also be on snow. Avoid driving through deep snow that can get jammed in the undercarriage.
- Salt accumulates in puddles of standing water. If at all possible, avoid driving through them.
- If there’s a snow plow or salt truck anywhere in front of you on the road, put plenty of distance between it and your vehicle.
- Wash your car, including spraying the undercarriage, once a week during the winter months or after storms.
- Apply wax to your car’s paint every three months to maintain a strong protective coating.
If there’s salt damage on your car, bring it to Auto Air & Heating, Inc. in New Palestine, IN for the repairs you need.
Categorised in: Auto Repair Service
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