Winter months can be especially harsh on vehicles in cities that use road salt to prevent icy roads. Road salt can cause damage that could lead to costly repairs or replacements if you don’t maintain your car during the winter. Road salt runoff also has negative effects on plants, water sources, and animals. Some city governments are considering alternative ways to de-ice roads or reduce salt use in order to mitigate its environmental impact.
Here are some things you can do to prevent road salt from damaging your car.
What is road salt and how does it work?
Road salt is a common winter weather solution used to melt snow and ice on roads. In America, cities put 48 billion pounds of salt on the roads every year. New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio used the most road salt in the 2021–22 winter season, according to Clear Roads. Salt lowers water’s freezing temperature, preventing ice from forming on roads at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It doesn’t melt ice outright. Unfortunately, using salt on the roads has consequences. It can be harmful to the environment and deteriorate roads over time.
Learn More: Auto Body Repair Costs & Car Insurance Coverage
How road salt can damage cars
Road salt can damage your car, especially in the winter months. De-icing methods caused $15.4 billion in rust-related car repairs between 2012 and 2017, according to AAA.
Road salt can cause damage to the undercarriage of your car, the paint, and other metal components. The salt corrodes metal surfaces, causing rust to form, which can weaken parts and lead to costly repairs.
See Also: Vehicle Inspection Requirements by State
How long it takes for road salt to damage a car
Depending on the environment and how often you drive in areas with road salt, it can take years for the damage to become visible. The best way to protect your car from road salt is by washing it regularly, especially during winter months when road salt is used more frequently.
If you live in an area with a lot of salt, it’s recommended that you wash your car every two weeks or so throughout the year. Taking these steps will help prevent long-term damage.
How to prevent road salt damage to your car
It’s important to take steps to protect your car from road salt damage, rather than address damage after it occurs. Regularly washing and waxing your car is one of the best ways to prevent any long-term road salt damage. Doing this will help keep your car looking its best while also preserving its value over time.
1. Wash your car regularly in winter months
It’s important to wash your car regularly during winter months. Washing off the salt will help keep rust and corrosion from forming on the hidden parts of your vehicle.
2. Avoid driving after snowstorms
Avoid driving after major snowstorms when possible. Road salt can still stick to your car even after a thorough wash, so it’s ideal to wait until most of the salt has been cleared off the roads before driving. Driving after snowstorms is also a safety issue, as icy winter conditions caused nearly 400 fatal crashes in 2020.
3. Protect your car with wax
Add an extra layer of protection with wax. Wax creates a barrier between your car’s metal components and the corrosive effects of road salt and other debris that may come in contact with them.
4. Keep your tires clean
Road salt tends to accumulate on tire rims and rubber surfaces, so make sure you give your tires a good clean every time you wash your car. It’s also a good idea to check your tire pressure during winter months, as cold air is denser and can cause low tire pressure. Adequate tire pressure is also important to maintain your steering during the winter.
Check Out: Does Car Insurance Cover Hail Damage?