March 31, 2023

Does Road Salt Affect My Car?

Winter is a tumultuous time for car owners. Between the sudden snow storms and subzero temperatures, the likelihood that something will go wrong with your vehicle skyrockets: cold temperatures turn oil into molasses and can kill batteries, the search for snow tires for sale increases with every passing flurry, and the check engine light always seems to be at risk to go off (or already on — 50% of drivers ignore the light for more than three months).


There are a number of actions you can take to protect yourself from these misfortunes: make an appointment for a brake service to be on the safe side, get an oil change with the right oil for the season, and have your belts and hoses checked. All of these preventative measures reduce the odds of an emergency trip to the auto shop (or emergency room), but there is still an irritant — one that you simply cannot avoid — that places your vehicle at risk: road salt.


Road Salt Risks

Despite its lifesaving, skid-preventing qualities, road salt can wreak havoc on the underside of your car. We all know that rust is bad; given enough time, it can rot the most crucial pieces of your vehicle right out from underneath you — pipes erode, bumpers fall off, and vital systems may be compromised from the corrosion. Unfortunately, water + salt + metal is the perfect recipe for rust.


It’s not just your safety that comes under threat. For you luxury car owners out there, road salt is excellent at corroding paint: rust forms underneath the layer of car paint and bubbles up, making the metal brittle. Eventually, it will start flaking off, leaving nothing but a brown and orange stain in its place.


Prevention Is Key

You’re not totally powerless in this fight. By paying clear attention to the state of your car, you can devote time to washing the salt off before it becomes a problem. This means:

  • As soon as possible after every snow storm
  • When temperatures reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • After you’ve driven through any major puddles (road salt collects in pooled water)


It may be a hassle, but it may also save you a (potentially very expensive) trip to the auto shop. Remember: the more diligent you are, the more protected you are.


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