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How to Protect Your Car from Rusting Due to Road Salt

Image of a blue car driving down a snowy road, getting road salt on the cars undercarriage.

During the winter season, all drivers on the road are alert and cautious considering the dangers of driving on icy roads. While the risk of winter driving to people is known to all, you may not realize that the icy roads also pose risk to your vehicle because of the salt used for deicing the roads or what is commonly known as road salt.

Why is There a Need to Use Salt on Roads?

If you live in areas with freezing winter season, you would know the many hassles of snow on your driving. Apart from the fact that you have to spend time warming up your car in the morning, you need to worry about driving on icy roads as well.

To lessen the risk of accidents, road departments spread a salt and sand mixture to roads and sidewalks before or after a snow or ice storm. The salt is used to lower the freezing point of water so that the snow and ice will still melt even if the temperature in the area is below freezing. The sand, on the other hand, helps the salt to remain in place and to add a bit of friction so that the roads wouldn't be as slippery.

While you may feel comforted by the effects of the salt mixture on roads because you can drive more safely, your vehicle may not share the same sentiment. While salt is reacting to melt the snow on the road, it is also causing a damaging chemical reaction on your car's body and undercarriage. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to minimize the damage, if not eliminate the risk completely.

What are the Hazards of Road Salt on Your Vehicle?

While road salt is important for safer winter driving, this mineral can cause rust and corrosion and even extensive damage to your vehicle over time. Given its position, your car's undercarriage and the following specific parts are most vulnerable to the damaging effects of road salt:

  • Exhaust system
  • Hydraulic brake system
  • Subframe
  • Coil springs
  • Muffler

It is important to note that rusting on critical parts, such as the axles to the brake system, does not only affect the aesthetic of your car but can impact your safety as well. Given the effects of road salt on your car, it is vital that you take measures to minimize its negative impact to keep your car's value and ensure your safety.

How Can You Protect Your Car from Road Salt Damage?

if you live in an area where a salt mixture is used extensively during the winter months, you can consider the following tips to protect your car from the damaging effects of road salt:

Give Your Car a Coat of Wax

Before the freezing temperature starts, you should give your car a good coat of wax as a form of protection. While it is true that your car's undercarriage is the most affected, giving your car a good waxing is a significant first step to protecting your investment as a whole.

Give Your Undercarriage a Pre-Treatment

The salt on the road will naturally stick to your car's metal parts as you drive. To prevent this from happening, you can visit a collision shop and ask for an oil solution pre-treatment. The solution will be sprayed on all exposed parts of your car to prevent sticking.

Keep Away from Puddles and Plow Trucks

Be cautious on the road and avoid puddles at all cost since they contain huge amounts of salt. Do not drive behind plow trucks as well since your car would undoubtedly be subjected to a fresh layer of salt mixture.

Wash Your Car ASAP!

After driving through salt-paved roads, make sure to wash your car as soon as possible. For a more thorough cleaning, let a reputable car wash do the job for you since they can completely remove all the salt off your vehicle, particularly the undercarriage.

Visit Your Mechanic

Before the winter season comes, visit your mechanic and ask for an inspection and a thorough auto detailing to prepare your car for winter. Make sure that every part of your vehicle is in tip-top condition.

Apart from the tips mentioned above, one of the best ways to ensure that your car would always be in the best condition is by being mindful of the signs of trouble, as the red light on your dash that warns you of your brake issues, and by sending your car to regular maintenance checks. Ultimately, preventing a problem is wiser than looking for a solution.

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