Preventing Rust and Damage Caused by Road Salt

How to prevent and treat rust and damage caused by road salt

The arrival of winter means different things to different people living in the United States, partially depending on where they live. If you reside in Florida, you may be looking forward to the arrival of snowbirds trying to escape the chill of the Northeastern Corridor. If you live in the Northeastern U.S., the Midwest or a Northwestern state like Oregon, the arrival of winter may mean icy sidewalks, snow-covered streets and driving conditions that can be treacherous at times.

Why Is Salt Used on Roads During the Winter?

Road salt in areas of the country that experience wintry weather minimizes the risk that dangerous driving conditions can pose to people and property. When snow or ice covers roadways, it increases the likelihood of accidents that can threaten the well-being of drivers, passengers and automobiles. That’s because snow- or ice-covered streets can make it difficult or impossible to maneuver or stop a vehicle like you would under normal conditions.

Many communities apply salt to their roadways in an often-successful attempt to de-ice the roads, which makes driving on treated streets safer for drivers, passengers and pedestrians. When salt is applied to a road, it lowers the freezing point of the water responsible for ice formation. Salt causes ice that’s already on the road to melt and prevents additional precipitation from transitioning into another layer of ice.

Possible Damage Road Salt Can Cause to Cars

While salt is usually effective at clearing roadways when wintry weather hits, it can wreak havoc on automobiles, especially vehicles that have exposed metal. If you have chips in your paint, salt can accelerate car rust if it adheres to the exposed metal.

Road salt damage isn’t limited to your paint job, however. The undercarriage of your car, which consists largely of unpainted metal components, is particularly vulnerable to road-salt corrosion and road-salt rust. Some of the parts you should monitor closely for salt corrosion on cars include the:

  • Exhaust System
  • Muffler
  • Subframe

A good rule of thumb for monitoring road-salt rust on your vehicle’s undercarriage is this —  if you have to bend or lay flat to see the component on your car, you should keep on eye on it for road-salt corrosion.

How to Prevent Car Damage From Road Salt

While the risk of salt corrosion on cars is high in communities that treat roadways with salt, you can take a few simple steps to protect your car from salt. Here are some tips:

  • Wax your vehicle prior to winter’s arrival: Waxing your car before winter’s arrival will help protect it from salt — a particularly important step if your paint job has nicks and chips in it. You should consider applying a spray wax at the mid-point of winter to reinforce the effectiveness of your pre-winter wax job and make sure it lasts throughout the remainder of the season.
  • Pretreat your undercarriage: While you can wax your car yourself, you’ll most likely have to visit a service center to have its undercarriage pre-treated. It’s worth the trip. A service technician will spray a substance on the exposed metal parts, which will prevent salt from sticking to them.
  • Wash salt off your car: The smartest thing you can do to protect your car from road-salt damage is to remove road salt from it as soon as possible. Because the undercarriage of your automobile needs to be washed just like its visible exterior, it’s advisable to visit a professional car wash after a snowstorm.

Tips for Washing Your Car in the Winter

If going to a professional car wash isn’t an option, you should still take time to wash your vehicle after you drive on salted roadways. Here are some tips for washing your automobile in the winter:

  • Wash your vehicle at least every 10 days.
  • Clean the car prior to the temperature reaching 35 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
  • Use a sprayer to remove salt and grime from the automobile’s undercarriage.

Start Your Own Business With the Car Wash Experts

For many people, their car is their second biggest investment after their home. If you like helping people, you may want to help drivers preserve that investment by providing a means for them to keep their vehicles in good shape throughout all seasons. You can do just that by starting your own business with the car wash experts at New Horizons. To learn more, contact New Horizons today!

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