21 Aug 2014
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Road salt does more than melt the ice, it also eats through your car’s finish

Road salt does more than melt the ice, it also eats through your car’s finish

With that fresh blanket of snow on the ground, your car is slipping and sliding as you cautiously apply the accelerator. Then, once you get up to a safe rate of speed, you notice a squirrel running into the road. You hit the brake but, hopefully, not too hard. Too much brake, too fast, and you can lose all control; that squirrel can send you spinning into a ditch.


“Where the heck is that snowplow,” you ask yourself. But, what you’re really asking for is the traction-improving road salt the snowplow spreads in its wake.


Road salt is a lifesaver on slippery highways. Unfortunately, it has the residual effect of harming your car’s finish and undercarriage. Simply put, road salt is a corrosive. Its ability to melt ice and snow is, to a lesser degree, mirrored by its ability to eat through a car’s paint and into the metal parts in the car’s undercarriage.


The good news is that car manufacturers have improved the finish of vehicles with corrosion-resistant coatings. The paint on your newer car is less susceptible to the corrosive effects of road salt than of an older model. And yet, the salt is still eating away at your finish. After a few years, you may notice that your car has lost some of its luster, as well as some of its resale value.


Under the car, in the chassis, parts are often not protected by paint at all. The parts are thicker than the metal body of your car but the salt is still working away eating at the surfaces of suspension, steering, braking and chassis components. If nothing else, road salt will speed the deterioration of your car’s undercarriage.


Road salt also has a corrosive effect on the highways it deices. Here, the cost is shared in intermodal taxes. At the same time, designers of roads have improved materials to reduce the corrosive effects of road salt ( Si – Salt Institute).


“While there isn’t much you can do about the effects of road salt on the pavement, you can do something about the effects of road salt on your car,” said Denny Norton, the owner of auto repair specialty shop Performance Unlimited in Ringwood. “The solution is fairly obvious – if you remove the road salt from your vehicle it can’t eat through your body. A protective coat of wax doesn’t hurt either.”


In other words, it makes sense to run your car through the carwash occasionally during the winter months. There’s another solution that’s equally obvious – move south: move where the winters are mild and the roads are salt free, if not ice and snow free. Of course, most of us aren’t going to move south just to get away from road salt. But, in the winter months, it’s nice to think about.


For more information about protecting your car in the winter, call Performance Unlimited at 815-728-0343 or visit www.4performanceunlimited.com.

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