Salt has proven to be an inexpensive and fast way to deal with snow and ice problems on driveways and roadways. This is due to the fact that salt lowers the freezing/melting point of water. But what does the assault of salt do to your car? Unfortunately the effect of salt can be brutal on vehicles – not to mention the havoc it wreaks on asphalt and footwear.
When it comes to your tires, you should not have to worry too much – as long as you have quality winter tires that are in good shape, with a decent amount of tread. More vulnerable are your wheels, as the metal areas of your vehicle are most susceptible to salt damage.
The greatest threat salt poses to your car is rust, which is accelerated by ongoing exposure to salt. By design, most of a vehicle’s underbody is wide open, so most salt damage occurs underneath the car, where it goes visually undetected. Rust on certain parts of a car can lead to a host of problems ranging from brake system leaks to frame damage.
The good news is that the process of salt leading to rust takes time. Since the coatings and paint finishes used today do a much better job of providing protection, you have time to undo the potential for salt damage. Taking your vehicle in for regular washings during the winter months should help you to avoid any problems.
How frequently you need to wash your vehicle will depend on how much salt and road sludge you contend with on a regular basis. If you have really expensive wheels, it may be worth swapping them out it the winter months because salt is especially hard on chrome.
As an added measure for protection and to make your winter washes more effective, make it part of your fall routine to wax your vehicle.