How Driving in Salt Damages your Car

When ice and snow cover the roads, most of us are delighted to see crews out clearing them and making them safe to travel. Salt and sand are particularly helpful on wintry roads because these elements combined help to melt the frozen surfaces and give vehicles extra traction. Road salt lowers water’s freezing point, chemically turning ice back into water to allow tires to reach the pavement that had been covered in ice. Sand added to the salt helps it to stick to the ice, and also lends traction to passing vehicles. This makes the roads much safer to drive and reduces your risk of an accident. If you’re out driving in wintry conditions, though, it’s important to make sure you wash all of that salty sand off of your car when you get off the road. Failing to do so can lead to serious damage to your vehicle.

Just as salt chemically changes ice into water, it creates chemical reactions on your vehicle. Rust is the biggest problem with salt on a car, and that can really take a toll on your paint job. Even worse, the impact of rust on a vehicle is far deeper than merely cosmetic. In fact, rust can create a wide range of problems for a car, including hydraulic brake system leaks and damage to the exhaust system, subframe, coil springs, and muffler.

Why does this happen? The way cars and trucks are constructed leaves the underbody open and exposed. When they pass over ice that’s been salted, those open, vulnerable areas can be damaged by the salt. You may not even notice the damage if you’re not paying attention, because it’s under the car and can be difficult to see. Many times, vehicles that have been out on salt-treated roads are left in a garage, with ice, snow, and salt from the roadways stuck to their underneath side, rotting away the components of the car that are exposed there.

How can you prevent this damage? After driving, head for a car wash to rinse off the damaging salt, sand, and water. Note: It’s not enough to simply drive through the car wash. You have to make sure the car wash has an under-spray, or a handheld spray that you can use to rinse the bottom of your car. In addition, there are some steps you can take before the icy season arrives, to protect your car before it comes into contact with damaging salt.

  • Apply some wax. It’s true that most of the damage occurs underneath the vehicle, but it doesn’t hurt to protect the rest of your vehicle, too. Giving it a good coat of wax before wintry weather hits can help protect your paint job from corrosion.
  • Head to a collision shop for some expert protection. The professionals at a collision shop can provide protection using an oil solution pre-treatment. Spraying it on your vehicle’s exposed undercarriage provides a coating that prevents salt, sand, and water from sticking to the metal parts of your car.
  • Steer clear of danger zones. If you can avoid puddles and snow plow trucks, you’ll be ahead of the game. Puddles are often full of salt, and if you’re the closest vehicle to the snow plow, you’ll be the first to hit that fresh, new layer of salt.
  • Have your car inspected before the winter arrives. Having a pre-winter inspection is important for many different reasons, including protection from salt. Your mechanic can give your car a once-over and make sure you head into winter with a vehicle that’s fully functional and safe to drive. Assessing wear and tear before heading into wintry weather gives you a good starting point, and having all your systems examined and maintained before the cold strikes is a good way to make sure you don’t get stuck in a bad situation.

Before the next winter storm hits, talk to us at B&L Automotive Repairs, so that we can help you protect your vehicle from the damaging effects of salt on the roads. If winter weather and salted roads have already taken a toll on your vehicle, B&L Automotive Repairs can help fix your paint job and repair the damage. At B&L Automotive Repairs, we have 29 years of experience handling every kind of body and mechanical repair. Our expert staff is continually trained and updated, and our state-of-the-art equipment affords them the opportunity to serve you with the highest level of expertise. No matter what make and model you drive, or which insurance company you use, we will provide fast and reliable service to make sure your needs are met. Call us today at (773) 463-1622, or contact us through our website for more information.

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