Let’s Talk Salt
Americans have always had a love-hate relationship with road salt. Each winter we pour over 48 billion lbs. of road salt and chemicals on our roads, sidewalks, and driveways. It serves the very important purpose of keeping our roads safe. Most mixtures consist of salt, chemicals, and sand deicers. Without salt, ice and snow would stop our transportation for long periods and could even threaten the lives of many. There is no question that salt is a necessity in many parts of the world, however, it is important to take notice of the harm it can cause so that we can combat it.
Salt does it's job by creating a chemical reaction between warmth (the sun) and road ice. It only works when temperatures are above 20 degrees. As temperatures rise, the free-radical ions within the salt combine with precipitation and penetrate solid ice and dissolve it. This chemical reaction, that does such a great job on solid ice will, unfortunately, have the same reaction to your car.
What does it mean for your car?
Road salt is highly corrosive and can damage both the surface and the structure of your vehicle. The damage caused by salt can be extensive and difficult to realize until it’s too late. The largest threat to the surface of your vehicle with salt is rust. The hard salt and chemicals can wear down on the protective layers of your vehicle, stripping it to the bare metal, which will then rust when exposed to the elements.
Other than rust damage, salt can also affect the mechanics of your vehicle. There are many important moving parts located on the undercarriage of a car or truck. With prolonged exposure to road salt and the elements, parts of your vehicle could wear and breakdown completely.
What can be done?
Some things in life are just out of our hands. The environment we drive and park in may not be within our control. However, one can take the proper precautions to prevent further damage. Here are some steps you can take to keep your vehicle in the best shape possible!
- Prepare in the fall! Give your car a protective wax or sealant as an added layer of protection.
- Before the salting begins, double-check your vehicle surface for chips and scratches. A small chip can be the start to major corrosion.
- Don’t let salt build-up, when you see buildup on your vehicle, remove it. Allowing it to sit will only intensify the corrosion.
- Wash your car! As soon as the temperature is above freezing and the salt begins to react, get a car wash. Even if it’s going to snow that day, it’s worth the effort or price of a car wash to remove the damaging salt.
- Clear your undercarriage often. Remove salt and chemical from the hard-to-reach places with MTM’s Undercarriage Cleaner.
- When driving, avoid driving closely behind salt trucks.
- Road salt can also collect in pools of water, avoid driving through puddles and spraying salt all over your vehicle and undercarriage.
- Consider using a rust-proof product on your vehicle.