How Road Salt Affects Your Vehicle

Winter is tough. Snow, icy roads and frigid temperatures in some parts of the country can make the season seem to last an eternity. Even if you enjoy a little snow, there’s one thing you probably don’t love: the damage road salt can do to your vehicle. Learn about its effects and what you can do to protect your car, truck, motorcycle or RV this winter.

How does road salt damage your vehicle?

The sodium chloride in road salt helps keep streets safe by melting existing ice and preventing the formation of additional layers. There’s a trade-off, though; this raw, unprocessed salt can also wreak havoc on your car’s finish and metal components.

When the iron component of the steel that makes up most cars meets with oxygen and water, oxidation can result. From your car’s underbelly to its shiny paint job, road salt can accelerate corrosion and rust if your vehicle is not properly maintained and protected. Although it won’t do much damage to your tires, it can leave a film on your treads.

How does rust affect your car?

Since the undercarriage of cars are open, the metal structures and parts are directly exposed to road salt and the corrosive effects it has. The longer road salt is allowed to remain on your vehicle, the worse the damage can be. While minor rust spots can be removed, oxidation can cause these and other problems:

  • Rusty bolts: When bolts and screws are allowed to rust they can become impossible to remove, making repairs difficult.
  • Damaged brakes: Rust can corrode brake lines and calipers, causing them to deteriorate quickly and leading to expensive repairs.
  • Compromised fuel lines: Fuel lines can also become rusty, leading to harmful leaks. A fuel line replacement is an extensive process and can come with a hefty repair bill.

Rusted metal can easily go unnoticed and only gets worse over time. Have your car inspected by a trusted local auto repair shop if you suspect road salt damage.

How to Prevent Damage from Road Salt

Rust repair can help restore your vehicle, but it’s always more effective (and less costly) to prevent this damage from occurring in the first place. Here are some simple ways to protect your car from road salt:

  • Wash the exterior and underside of your car often, whether it is at your home or at a self-service car wash. This is especially important after an icing or snow storm.
  • Store or cover your vehicle when it is not in use, protecting it from outside elements.
  • Apply wax if the weather warms up
  • Get your vehicle’s undercarriage rust-proofed
  • Avoid driving through puddles or behind snow plows, as this is an easy way for salt to get loosened up and kicked up into the underside of your vehicle

If you have a place to store your car, such as a garage, you can wash it regularly during the colder months and help prevent the need for rust repair. Otherwise, the best way to combat the accumulation of road salt damage is to be vigilant in keeping your car clean.

Schedule a Rust Repair Appointment with Kennedy Transmission

Kennedy Transmission provides customers in Minnesota with comprehensive auto services. In addition to routine inspections and repairs, we love giving our customers information to help them maintain and protect their vehicles. Find the nearest Kennedy Transmission shop near you or contact us to schedule rust repair and other types of service today!

Recent Posts
Skip to content