When snow and freezing rain fall you may find the site of the salt truck rolling down your street to be very comforting. Salting is an effective and quick way to make roadways safer for travel. But a look at your shoes after walking through salty slush will remind you of the damaging effects of winter salt. Footwear aside, did you know winter salt can put your car at risk? Are you doing all you can to prevent winter salt damage?

The reason salt is so effective for dealing with ice and snow is because salt lowers the freezing/melting point of water. Salt is low cost, plentiful, and easy to apply, so it has become the most widely used method for treating slick, icy surfaces including roads, driveways, parking lots and walkways.

Winter Salt vs. Tires and Wheels

If you have quality winter tires with a safe amount of tread, you do not need to worry too much about your tires. The rubber formulas used in the fabrication of winter tires are designed to hold up under winter abuse. Your wheels, however, are at serious risk for winter salt damage, since they are made from metal and susceptible to rust.

Winter Salt vs. Body and Undercarriage

Like your wheels, the body and undercarriage of your car are largely comprised of parts and components that are vulnerable to rust. Since your undercarriage is open, this is the area in which most winter salt damage occurs. Rust on most areas of a car can be hard to detect and can lead to a variety of problems such as brake system issues and frame damage.

How to Fight Winter Salt Damage

While it may not be the first thing you think of in cold weather, taking your car through the car wash is not only recommended, it is probably the best way to combat winter salt damage. Because salt related rust damage happen slowly, and the coatings and paint finishes used today do a much better job of providing protection, you don’t need to wash the salt off every day. A monthly wash during winter months should provide you with enough cleaning to prevent winter salt damage.

An Ounce of Prevention

To make your winter washes more effective, make it part of your fall maintenance to wax your vehicle. Consider swapping out expensive wheels in the winter months because salt is particularly hard on chrome.