How to Minimize Salt Damage to Your Car This Winter

July 07 2021

Do you remember the joyful feeling when winter is here and snow is falling? For car owners, winter becomes tricky as with it comes profound car damages and increased repair costs. Brushing off snow from all over your car, scraping even more snow from the car windows, constantly checking car parts functionality, and other winter tasks can be tiresome. And accidents can happen even after you have spent a lot of money preparing your car for winter. One of the proven ways to lessen the damage to your car is to protect your car from salt used to melt snow during winter.

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Photo: KN (Shutterstock)

When the roads are all messed up, totally covered with snow and inoperable, the local authorities come in, pouring salt to improve quick snow melting to facilitate movement. This is a common practice in most countries that are hit hard by snow. On paper, this is the greatest of ideas but in reality, it comes with less-than-fortunate consequences, especially to vehicle owners.

Effects of salt on cars

Vacuum, rock, and sea salt are the three types of salt used to fight the snow. This type of salt have sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, and potassium chloride as snow-melting components.

Two common effects of salt on your car are corrosion and rust. Vehicle manufacturers have been working hard to produce vehicles with car parts resistant to rust and corrosion. Recently, another effect of calcium chloride, a component of salt, has been rotting out of certain parts of the cars. This includes the brake lines, fuel lines, fuel pumps and other metal parts of the car. Most things made of metal within the car can easily be eaten up by calcium chloride. However, parts like the exhaust system, subframes, and hydraulic brake system are not usually affected by calcium chloride.

Eventually, all vehicles are affected by rust. However, calcium chloride speeds up the level of corrosion as this component is a moisture magnet, even when winter is over. Rust can easily attack parts of your car because of exposure to calcium chloride. That is why you need to know common practices that will help you protect your car from the effects of salt. 

How to protect your car from salt

  • Regularly wax your vehicle. 
  • Regularly wash off the salt after driving on snowy roads. This is simple as it is a DIY exercise. You can opt to use professional service providers from car washes. Constantly check the undercarriage of your car as it is the part largely exposed to salt poured on the road.
  • Consider doing a pre-winter check on your vehicle. This will help you see any potential leaks and rusty parts. 
  • Avoid puddles and plow trucks. Not only does this serve you well during winter, but generally all through your driving experiences. Puddles have plenty of salts. 
  • Driving behind trucks exposes your vehicle's undercarriage from salt.

Conclusion

Maintaining your vehicle is a full-time job. If proper care isn't given to a vehicle, the vehicle can fall victim to corrosion and rust. Salt is commonly used to remedy the effects of snow on major roads, and since salt is here to stay, maintaining your vehicle is key when the winter comes. In this article, we offer you proven knowledge on how to minimize salt damage to your car.

 

Comments:

hard to tell - new cars come from the factory with a coating of stuff and most (that I know of) offer a corrosion warranty for the term of the factory - meaning rust isn’t really an issue for the first 3 years of the cars life - or shouldn’t be.Most rust belt states would have you find a place that will sell you a coating of used motor oil (seriously) over the bottom of your car - which surprisingly is a very decent rust protection (the oil forms a barrier the salt sits on top of).
raymondskelley / 2021-08-02 23:00:00

oil sprays like Krown work if applied annuallythick coatings like Ziebart suck because they’re like a shell, and once they crack, moisture and rust gets in but cannot get out, making the problem even worse.
dogisbadob / 2021-08-20 11:00:00

Undercoating does offer “ some” protection from the constant salt bath although it more acts as a decent sound insulator than anything else. Keep in mind, they use a spray wand and generally try to avoid coating brake lines, drive shafts, exhaust, suspension components, etc. Those are still left open to the elements.
factoryhack / 2021-09-02 23:00:00

Definitely not illegal everywhere, shops do it here in Ohio. It works. It’s not really used motor oil, it’s some other petroleum-based stuff, kind of gooey and should be removed annually with a solvent.Now, you can also just take you own stockpiled used motor oil and put it in a sprayer and do it yourself, and that’s probably illegal, but you can still totally do it and get away with it, it’s not like they check (California excluded).
qaaaaa / 2021-09-10 11:00:00

Normally, it only snows maybe 2-4 inches maybe one time every winter and it’s no big deal, but the Conservative Whine Club, led by their Radio King Whiner Lars Larson whined so much about the need to use salt because, apparently, it’s bad for the environment, so of course, we need to, that now we’re using salt on the roads again in Portland. We don’t need to use salt just because people suck driving so bad in the snow that 2" of it brings everything to a standstill. In that that case, the salt does very little to help.  I say this even after an extremely unusual 10" of snow that salt didn’t really help get rid of nearly as much as the warming temperatures that followed it.
manicotti / 2021-09-20 11:00:00

Well yeah, sure it is. But I imagine it’s cheaper and safer to just salt everything when it does snow - knowing how unpredictable the weather can be - in case it happens to get cold enough for all of that water to re-freeze the next night, being left with a quarter inch of ice that’s many times more dangerous than the snow and slush would ever be. I do think we oversalt in general, though. I know what the weather is like in Portland being from the pacific NW, so over there it’s probably not as prudent to over salt as it is for me here in Southern WV, where we’ve had snow on the ground for about 2 months, and a freezing rain storm just a few days ago.
ser-bigbootewiggums / 2021-09-30 11:00:00

I got to listen to some mid-southerner bitch about how the PNW doesn’t spray down the roads with salt (I saw the lines on the road by the fire station, so that’s not true) and doesn’t get the plow trucks out immediately to keep the roads clear (again, the road in front of the fire station sure got plowed) but when it’s gonna snow 10" overnight, then warm up to 40 Freedom degrees and rain the next day or two you just don’t have the problem with ice that deicer helps with and it sure doesn’t help with slippery slush. It’s a lot easier for everyone to miss a day of work and call it good.
biscuitscycle / 2021-10-08 23:00:00

Remember, Elizabeth is a woman (no offense), and a bioethicist. Not being sexist here, but in my 50 years as a Mechanical engineer and auto mechanic, I have met ZERO women with any sense of knowledge or understanding of automobiles. And her being a bioethicist, what is the WORLD was she thinking of writing this article for?!?! The best she could do would be cut and paste some other idiots drivel here, and then it becomes one ignorant person repeating another ignorant person.I live in Wisconsin, and as another person noted, the car washes stay open. But so what?? The MOMENT you drive a mile, you are back at square one. It doesn’t make sense at all. And there is NO way you can spray the undercarriage of a standard car. SUV and truck, yes, but I guarantee you, Miss Ethics here wouldn’t be caught dead crawling under her car to spray it clean, whether it was winter or not. So, I call BS on her. And for those other savvy readers here, that will rant that there are “undercarriage car washes” out there, I say BS again. In 20 years of doing this myself and driving 30 miles to even FIND a car wash with that advertised, the “spray” that comes from the floor of the car wash is worthlessly anemic. so, nevermind. Best anyone can do is do a car wash once a week and hope for the best. But there is no way to get the salt out from inside door panels (where it ends up eventually), or inside fender panels, where the MAJORITY of rust springs up. You just have to buy new cars to keep ahead of it.
blevins1844 / 2021-10-19 23:00:00

I’ve never had cars experience corrosion on painted surfaces. Yeah, you get a tiny spot where a stone damaged the paint, but it never spreads beyond that and wax did nothing to prevent it. Also, cars almost always corrode where wax doesn’t reach. My A3 started corroding underneath the paint, just behind the front wheel wells where sill met the bodywork. Ironically, it originated in an area that was covered in a material that looked like plastidip, presumably Audi’s attempt to address rust caused by road debris.I’m also highly skeptical of underbody treatment. How durable is that stuff? I see claims ranging from a few months to 8+ years, but nothing scientific. On top of that, cars already come prepared from the factory in addition to making extensive use of plastic underbody panels, and tend to not experience notable problems in the first decade of ownership. So what is there to treat?Don’t forget that most people do none of this and own cars that aren’t rusting to bits, nor do they show visible signs of corrosion.
MaWeiTao / 2021-10-31 10:00:00

The rust and corrosion won’t be too bad as long as it stays cold. It accelerates as the temperature rises. Krown rustproofing does work, and there are numberous other good choices out there. Just stay away from Ziebart and other similar coatings that are like tar or a hard coating. When these crack, and they will, moisture can get in but not out, and it will actually make rust worse! Too bad calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) isn’t more common. It is much less damaging, so even though it costs more than salt, it’s really cheaper considering the damage of rust from salt.Does anyone here have experience with Krown’s salt eliminator? It’s a spray that’s supposed to be applied after salt gets on your car.
dogisbadob / 2021-11-10 10:00:00

I guess I am lucky enough that the car wash, with an undercarriage rinse, is less than 1 minute from my house, and a heated garage. My car is currently moss green/salt colored, as it’s been too cold for the automatics. It’s finally above zero, even with more snow in the forecast. They should be open when I get there. I’ll be happy to have a clean car again. and I’m a couple hours west of Chicago.
keager1 / 2021-11-18 10:00:00