With Winter, there isn’t just the ice and snow you have to be prepared for. You also have to be prepared for the after effects of the weather- which is road salt and sand. You’re probably thinking, “How much REAL damage can be caused road salt and sand, and if there is a potential for damage, WHY DO WE USE IT?” Don’t freak out. We will cover everything.
Why do we use road salt?
Since we live in New England, where the temperatures drop below freezing and has weather that causes slippery road conditions, we need the salt.
As you’ve probably seen a sander truck distributes a salt and sand mixture along the roadways before and after a snow storm. Salt lowers water’s freezing point, so it helps ice melt and keep it from freezing. The sand helps by, not only, adding traction, but by keeping the salt in place so it can do it’s job.
So that’s the good news, what’s the bad news?
The bad news is that, although it helps keep the road safer, it has the potential to do some serious damage to your vehicle. Road salt can cause rust and corrosion on the undercarriage of your car. Specifically,
– the exhaust system
– the muffler
– the coil springs
– the subframe
– hydraulic brake system.
Never EVER keep driving your vehicle if you suspect brake damage, especially if the red brake light goes on. Have it brought to a service station near you as soon as possible.
EEEK! That IS bad. What can I do?
There are some ways to help avoid corrosion due to road salt and sand:
Avoid puddles and plows Puddles are standing water that are chock full of salt and sand.If you happen to get stuck behind a plow, you are the lucky winner of freshly put down salt that hasn’t stuck to the ground. All that salt and sand will be catapulted up into your undercarriage.
Pretreat your undercarriage! Go to a shop and get the oil solution pre-treatment to help protect underneath your car. You can also have your undercarriage undercoated, which will provide a rubbery layer to protect the undercarriage of your car.
Wash that dirty car! Like all things, cars must be washed. Ensure that after snowstorms have calmed down and the roads are a little drier, get a car wash. Make sure that the car wash does NOT use recycled water and also that it has an undercarriage sprayer.
Wax your car before winter. Although, the undercarriage is primarily what takes the burden during the winter, having the whole car waxed will help protect your paint and the body.
Pre-Winter Check up! If you didn’t do it before this winter, next year, make sure you take your car in for a pre-winter check-up! Your mechanic will ensure that you are going into the winter with a well-prepared vehicle!
Now, it’s really hard to see under your car to check for damage, that’s why most of us forget about it. “Out of sight out of mind.” But it is imperative that you take care of your car, the whole car, so it’ll cost you less to maintain and stay with you longer. If you stay up to date with your car’s regular maintenance and keep it protected during the winter, then you will be ahead of the game! Good luck out there, New Englanders!