When the snow starts to fly, it can be easy to focus on the hazards of driving on slick roads and navigating icy sidewalks. While road salt is the most common and cost-effective means of melting ice, it can pose some problems for your vehicle. In this post, we are going to take a look at why we use salt and what you can do to help keep your car in tip-top shape during “salt season.”
Why We Use Road Salt
In the more snow-prone parts of the country, like Michigan, having to warm up your car in the morning is just one inconvenience. Another one? Slick roads. In addition to giving ice cream its wonderful textures, the chemical reaction between salt and ice helps to keep ice from forming/staying on roads and sidewalks in winter.
While you may see a salt/sand mixture from time to time, that is usually applied to roads immediately before or after a storm. Salt actually “melts” by lowering its freezing point below the 32 degrees we all recognize as the freezing point of water. That’s why salt works well in below-freezing temps. The addition of sand to the mix really helps to ensure the salt stays in place and doesn’t get washed away as the ice liquefies again. It can also add traction in slushy conditions.
Road salt’s ability to improve travel in winter conditions is a given, but there is another side to road salt that you need to keep in mind. Road salt can cause damage to your vehicle’s body and undercarriage if you don’t take preventive measures.
If you are out there driving through the salty, slushy streets like the rest of us, we have some tips that can help you limit the damage salt can do to your vehicle this winter, and for many winters to come.
Common Road Salt Damage
The biggest problems caused by road salt are corrosion and rust. While rust on your vehicle’s body is easier to see, it’s actually your undercarriage that requires the most attention. Unlike your car’s body, which is protected by paint (and sometimes wax), your vehicle’s undercarriage is completely exposed to road salt.
The parts of your undercarriage that are most susceptible to salt damage are:
When rust starts to form on these areas that are essential to proper vehicle performance, operating your vehicle can become more hazardous. That said, there are some very concrete steps you can take to prevent road salt damage to your vehicle.
How to Prevent Road Salt Damage to Your Vehicle
The real start of winter can vary from year to year, but there is no denying that it will happen. There are some steps you can take before the full brunt of winter hits (and even during), however, that can help limit the effects of salt on your vehicle.
Know the Warning Signs
These days, cars are pretty good at monitoring themselves for potential problems. In addition to paying attention to the way your vehicle is performing, watch your gauges and dash lights, too. If your brake warning light comes on, park your car and have it towed to your mechanic. Brake lines are more susceptible to salt damage than most parts of your vehicle. Therefore, this particular dash light should be heeded immediately.
Not every hazard is going to be as obvious as a bright red light on your dashboard, though. That’s why paying close attention to your vehicle and following a regular maintenance routine is your best defense against road salt and the other hazards of winter weather.
If you or someone you know is in need of commercial snow removal services, don’t hesitate to contact us online or give us a call at (517) 990-0110 today!