Photo: KN (Shutterstock)
Driving in winter can be difficult for a number of reasons. Nobody likes brushing snow or scraping ice off windows. Fog up windshields or Crack– and that’s all after you’ve taken the time make your car winterproof even before the season started.
Also, the roads may not be in the best condition after a winter storm. And this is where salt comes in. While it’s critical to making driving safer (or in some cases possible) at this time of year, the salt put on the road can have a number of effects on your vehicle. Here are some ways to minimize the damage.
What kind of salt is used on roads?
There are three different types of road salt (vacuum, rock, and sea) that are typically a component of four different formulations of the material put on the road: sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, and potassium chloride. (You can read more about it all of this here.)
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Plus, in some areas, a Brine is put on the road before the winter weather even hits: ideal for safety, but especially bad for your car. If you want to learn more about the science behind why salt is put on roads in winter, read this Article from Jalopnik.
What does salt do to cars?
For a quick look at how road salt is likely to damage your vehicle, we’re giving it to Chris Jenak, a mechanic at Glastonbury Oil and Service in Connecticut recently spoke to News 8 to this topic:
“Before when we used salt and sand, you had rust and corrosion, but it seems like everything on vehicles has rotted with that calcium chloride in the last 10 years … Rotten brake lines, rotten fuel lines … fuel pumps … some frames are rotten. Anything that has a metal composite, that chemical just comes in and eats and rots and corrodes. “
This contains parts like that::
- Exhaust system
- Hydraulic braking system
Now, back to Jenak for a breakdown of what this has to do with rust:
“It’s a combination of normal rusting of every vehicle because every car rusts. But this calcium chloride basically sets the degree of corrosion and the corrosion factor in full swing. It is a moisture activated chemical. Even when winter is over, you get a nice, rainy day in summer or a damp, humid day. It activates the chemical. It continues to sit there and react and eat away all the metal. “
How to protect your car from salt damage
While different salt formulations can cause damage faster than others, these are general tips from DMV.org are your best choices regardless of the type used in your region:
- Grow your vehicle every yearjust before the winter weather starts.
- Get the salt out of your car ASAP after driving through. (Even if you prefer to wash your car yourself, this is a great excuse for a trip to the car wash.)
- Don’t skip the landing gear. Whether you wash your car yourself or choose a car wash, make sure the lower / lower part of the car can be sprayed.
- Consider pre-treating the landing gear. This is something that some body shops offer.
- Carry out a vehicle inspection before winter. Either slide under the car yourself (if you know what you’re doing) or have a professional do it. The aim is to identify possible weak or rusty parts and remove them before the winter road salt.
- Stay away from puddles and plow carts. This is generally good advice for winter driving (you never know how deep that puddle will be), but also helpful with regards to salt. Puddles are usually high in salt, and while this seems safer, driving just behind (or near) a plow / salt truck positions your vehicle for maximum salt exposure.