With winter in full-force across much of the nation, salt crews have been on the go prepping roadways before, after and during inclement winter weather. Although road salt is essential for safe winter driving, it can also lead to numerous car troubles.
Road salt lowers the freezing point of water, according to Service Advisor at The Auto Station, Rick Lucci.
"It chemically turns that ice back into water so that the car tires can then reach the pavement for traction, instead of just sliding on top of the ice," Rick said.
While road salt is imminent to safe winter driving, it is also extremely corrosive and over time it can cause extensive damage to vehicles.
The biggest threat salt poses to a vehicle is rust, which is accelerated by repeated exposure to salt. Rust on certain parts of a car can create a slew of problems ranging from hydraulic brake system leaks to sub-frame damage.
Due to the construction of a vehicle with most of the underbody being wide open, most salt damage occurs underneath the car and as a result can be difficult to detect visually. Door sills and Jambs are often overlooked as well.
Underneath most cars is wide open and subject to everything and all of the elements," Rick said. "All of the water and salt that can be kicked up and sprayed up underneath the vehicle are just going to stick, sit there and corrode."
After driving on salt treated roads, many drivers then pull their vehicles into a garage, which allows the ice, snow and salt from the roadways to sit underneath the car and rot away at the car's under components.
This rotting or corrosion can harm the car's exhaust and muffler systems, coil springs and the frame of the car. Damage to the sub-frame of a vehicle is common in the snow belt areas here in southern Ontario, according to Rick.
The necessity of road salt makes it hard to avoid these issues but visiting a car wash frequently during the winter months can help car owners battle salt's detrimental effects.
"Go through a car wash that has an under-spray," Rick said. "That will try to reduce the chances that all that salt and salt water will get on the vehicle and start to corrode."
A regular clean and wipe of the Door sill areas is just as important as under spray and regular washing to prevent rust from getting a place to start.