Salt. It’s good in that it melts ice and keeps your car from sliding off the road in winter. It’s not so good in that it can cause major damage to your vehicle.
When road crews spread salt during an ice storm or freezing rain and you drive through it, it sprays onto your car’s undercarriage and outer body. Parts most affected include the exhaust system., muffler, coil springs, subframe and hydraulic brake system.
DMV.org offers some tips on how to keep salt off your car during those winter months.
- Wax your car before winter: While the undercarriage is the most at risk, giving your whole vehicle a good coat of wax early on can help prevent damage.
- Avoid puddles and plow trucks.
- Pretreat your vehicle's undercarriage: Collision shops offer an oil solution pre-treatment that can be sprayed on your vehicle's exposed parts to prevent salt from sticking.
- Wash your vehicle after a snowstorm as soon as possible. Wash it at least every 10 days, if possible, when the temperature is 40 degrees or warmer.
- Choose a drive-through car wash or a hand wash that offers undercarriage wash and that does not use recycled water.
- Get a pre-winter inspection from your mechanic to look for any issues.
Also always wash your car during the day in winter to allow it to dry before the temperature drops below freezing, then open and close the doors and trunk a few times so the locks don’t freeze.
Look for signs of salt damage. If your brake warning light comes on stop driving immediately, says BMV.org. Have your car towed to your mechanic. If your brake lines have rusted through and you’re losing brake fluid, you can also lose your brakes.
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