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How to Protect Your Vehicle From Road Salt

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On: Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 2:33PM | By: Bill Wilson

How to Protect Your Vehicle From Road Salt

New Year’s celebrations have come and gone, and for most parts of the country several months of winter remain. If you live in a snow-prone area, then you’re already familiar with how road salt can affect your car’s appearance. What you may not know is that salt can also promote rust, damage your vehicle’s paint job, and even affect its mechanical operation.

Some areas of your car are more vulnerable than others to road salt. These include the tailgate, hood, fenders, and doors. They have internal pockets and cavities where salt can hide. Those who live in coastal regions must deal with the effects of sea salt as well. Your risk factor for salt-related damage varies, depending both on where you live and the car model you drive.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the damage that road salt can do to your vehicle. These include:
• Wash your car every 10 days, more often if possible. Do so during the day, before freezing temperatures begin at night.
• Stay clear of deep snowbanks. Deeply packed, salt-treated snow can become trapped in your undercarriage, where it may fester for days or even weeks, causing corrosion and other problems.
• Steer clear of puddles during the winter; these often contain salt-contaminated water.
• Keep your car waxed during the winter. Wax forms a protective layer between your car and road salt. Give it a good waxing just before the cold season starts.
• Every week or so, inspect your car’s finish for scratches, dings, and other damage to the paint job. Get these problems repaired as soon as possible, as bare metal is extremely vulnerable to corrosion.
• Keep your tires, cowl, wheels, grille, bumpers, etc. free of materials like dirt and leaves, which can store corrosive moisture for the long-term.
• Familiarize yourself with any drainage holes built into your vehicle. These are usually found in the floor, bottoms of doors, and along the frame. Check these areas from time to time to ensure that they are clear of obstructions.
• After washing your car, open your doors to allow any internal water to drain out.

Rust-proofing is a common add-on option when purchasing new vehicles. The degree to which it works is a matter of hot debate, though advances in recent years have improved its effectiveness. If you live in a region of the country that receives regular snowfall during the winter months, then rust-proofing may be a smart investment. If your roads are only occasionally salted, however, then you are probably better off forgoing the extra expense. Regularly washing your vehicle and rinsing off its undercarriage cost less than rust-proofing and is usually just as effective in sun-belt states.

Road salt is an problem that most car owners will have to deal with every year. The good news is that, with a little effort and diligence, the corrosion and other damage it causes can be minimized. So hang in there; spring is just a few months away!



chriswhite13 | 7:02PM (Thu, Aug 20, 2015)

The area in which I live in uses a lot of road salt during the winter to deal with the snow. The only problem is that it causes a lot of vehicles to rust. So the things that you listed on keeping this from happening is really helpful. Even if washing my car every 10 days or as often as possible seems like a waste, if it can help me out then I am all for it. I do not want my vehicle to rust and take damage because of this. Going to have to try some of those rust protection products as well. Then I can really make sure that this doesn't happen.
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