Sometimes it can be exciting when a snowstorm hits Missouri, but not when you need to drive your car across town. During times like this, we are thankful for the hardworking crews cleaning the streets so we can get back to our daily routine.
Although snowplows work hard to push the snow out of the way, another great asset in cleaning the streets is road salt. Salt is able to melt the ice and snow because it lowers the waters freezing point. Most de-icing solutions have a combination of sand or gravel mixed in with the salt.
The sand provides more traction for vehicles on the road and also works to keep the salt mixture more compact when wet. The faster ice and snow are removed from the streets, the happier (and safer) everyone is.
While de-icers help in making our roads safer, many drivers may not realize the harmful effects the salt solution can have on our vehicles. When driving in winter weather, salt finds its way into the undercarriage and small crevices of your car. If the salt is not cleaned off, it can start to deteriorate and cause unwanted rust.
This corrosion can be harmful to the steering components, suspension parts, the brake system, wheels and anything else it comes into contact with. It’s also damaging to the exterior of the paint when it’s left on the vehicle for too long. If parts of your car do suffer from extensive corrosion, it can be costly to have them replaced.
So the question is, how do you prevent this from happening to your own vehicle? Deterioration over time is normal, but many things can be done to avoid extensive damage.
Stop the problem before it starts
Over the years, automobile manufacturers have been creating better paints for the exterior of our vehicles, trying to make the paint more resistant to weathering. Although exterior paint is better than it was 20 years ago, it is still not completely resistant.
A good maintenance service (an easy do-it-yourself job) is to wax your car. Waxing your car’s exterior not only makes it look great, but it also gives it a protective shell that can prevent the salt from penetrating the paint.
It’s also extremely important to protect the undercarriage of the vehicle. In northern parts of the county where salt is used more often, you can have the undercarriage of your vehicle sealed to further protect against rust. The components under the vehicle are often overlooked, so don’t let your car feel neglected.
As soon as the roads clear, take your car through the car wash. The sooner you are able to rid your car of the road salt, the better. The longer the car is driven before washing the chemicals off, the more time the salt has to settle in and start corroding things. Make sure to choose a car wash option that cleans the undercarriage of the vehicle. This is the area where salt builds up the most.
It is also beneficial to spend time cleaning all the brake and wheel components. Having to replace these items sooner than needed due to corrosion can be costly. If you are in a climate where the roads are constantly bad and deicer is constantly present, wash your car as often as possible to prevent build-up.
On average 10-15 tons of road salt is used per year in the US. That is a lot of rust just waiting to happen! So don’t forget to protect and clean your vehicle. If you are thinking about buying a used car in the future, have your trusted mechanic perform a pre-purchase inspection to see if damage and rust are present under the vehicle. Having the car inspected before can save you lots of money in the long run.