How to Minimize Salt Damage to Your Car This Winter

Driving in winter can be challenging for a number of reasons. No one likes to clean snow or scrape ice from the windows, windscreen misted or cracked – and all this after you have spent the time to prepare your car for winter, even before the season starts.

In addition, roads may not be in their best condition after a winter storm. And this is where salt comes in. While it is critical to improving the safety (or, in some cases, ability) of driving at this time of year, salt applied to the roads can seriously damage your vehicle. Here are some ways to minimize harm.

What kind of salt is used on the roads?

There are three different types of road salt (vacuum, rock and sea), which are generally one of the components of four different compositions of materials used on roads: sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, and potassium chloride. (You can read more about all this here. )

Plus, in some areas, brine is poured onto roads even before winter weather sets in: great for safety, but especially bad for your car. If you want to know more about why salt is put on the roads in winter, read this article from Jalopnik .

What does salt do to cars?

For a quick overview of how road salt can damage your vehicle, we’re going to turn it over to Chris Jenak, a Glastonbury Oil and Service mechanic in Connecticut who recently spoke to News 8 about this very topic:

“Before, when we used salt and sand, you had rust and corrosion, but it looks like over the last 10+ years with this calcium chloride everything has rotted on vehicles … Rotted brake lines, rotted fuel lines … fuel pumps … some frames rot. Anything that a metal composite has, this chemical just acts, eats, decomposes and corrodes it. “

This includes parts such as :

  • Exhaust system
  • Muffler
  • Coil springs
  • Stretcher
  • Hydraulic braking system

Now let us return to Jenak to parse that this is due to rust:

“It’s a combination of the normal rust of every car, because every car rusts. But this calcium chloride simply increases the corrosion rate and corrosion factor. It is a moisture activated chemical, so even when winter is over, you get a nice rainy day in the summer or a wet humid day, it activates the chemical. He continues to sit and react, eating away at all the metal. “

How to protect your machine from salt damage

While different salt formulations can cause damage faster than others, these general tips from are the best choice , no matter what type of salt is used in your area:

  1. Apply wax to your car every year right before winter weather.
  2. Remove salt from the vehicle as soon as possible after driving on it. (Even if you prefer to wash your car yourself, this is a good reason to go to the car wash.)
  3. Don’t miss out on the undercarriage. Whether you wash your car yourself or choose a car wash, make sure there is a way to spray water from the bottom of the car.
  4. Consider undercarriage pretreatment. This is what some auto repair shops offer.
  5. Carry out a pre-winter vehicle check. Either climb under the car yourself (if you know what you are doing), or have a professional do it. The goal is to detect any potentially weak or rusty parts and take care of them before winter road salt does.
  6. Stay away from puddles and plows. This is good winter driving advice (you never know how deep a puddle is), but also good for salt. Puddles tend to contain a lot of salt, and while it may seem safer, moving directly behind (or close to) the plow / salt truck will position your vehicle for maximum salt exposure.


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