How to protect your car from salt damage
While salt is good for the roads, it can be very bad for the cars on those roads. That magical substance used for de-icing can also de-paint your car.
Lucky for Kentuckians, salt helps keep our roadways drivable even when Old Man Winter has other plans. According to Wheeler Nevels, Roadway Preservation Manager with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the Bluegrass state annually spreads about 500 million pounds of salt on 63,000 lane miles of Kentucky roadways. That’s more than 100 pounds per Kentuckian!
On a national level, The Smithsonian Institution reports that more than 22 million tons of salt are scattered on U.S. roads annually.
While salt is good for the roads, it can be very bad for the cars on those roads. That magical substance used for de-icing can also de-paint your car. Saline streets can wreak havoc on the undercarriage and body of a vehicle, eating away at paint, causing rust and opening the door to more serious issues. Due to their proximity to the undercarriage, two crucial areas especially vulnerable to corrosion and rust are the brake and fuel lines.
With a solid chunk of winter under our belts (and unfortunately, more yet to endure), it’s a great time to give your car some attention and wash off all that roadway gunk and grime.
Here are some tips to show your car the love all season long and ensure its wellbeing come spring:
- Get regular car washes! Spray your car down at least once a week in snowy conditions, and visit a car wash that targets the undercarriage at least once a month and after winter storms. It may help to view this expense as required vehicle maintenance, as it could save you money on costly damages later.
- If your car exceeds 8 years old, it’s going to need some extra TLC. Several years of exposure to winter road salts can take its toll. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), vehicle models made in 2007 and earlier are especially susceptible to brake pipe corrosion due to salt exposure. Have a mechanic regularly inspect for corrosion, and take notice of how your brake pedal feels in cold weather. Any changes could indicate a leak in the brake pipes.
- Use a synthetic wax to provide a protective barrier from harsh salt.
- Once spring arrives, thoroughly detail the exterior so that salt doesn’t sit on the surface.
- Prep for winter weather early next season, and make sure to pay special attention to any chips or scrapes in the paint, as those areas will be more susceptible to rust.
>> We want you to be safe out there on the road… but accidents still happen. At Kentucky Farm Bureau, we’ve got agents in all 120 counties. Click to find one near you.