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How-to: Manage Salt on the Road During Winter

Winter brings slick driving conditions. Depending on where you live, snow and ice can build up on the road. In order to counteract that, many regions put down road salts to help melt ice. While this can really help melt the ice on the roads, it can negatively affect your vehicle. Learn how to manage salt on the road during winter.

How-to: Manage Salt on the Road During Winter: Protecting Your Vehicle

Why Salt?

Cities and states put salt on the road because it actually lowers the freezing point of water. 32 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which water normally freezes. However, when water is exposed to salt, the temperature needs to be lower than 32 in order to get the water to freeze. In fact, the more salt you add, the colder it needs to be for water to freeze. If you treat the roads with a layer of a salt and water mix, this helps to keep the roads from freezing over. Therefore, they are safer for vehicles to drive on.

However, if the road temperature goes below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, the salt may not be enough to keep the roads from freezing. In this case, road crews may add sand to the top of the ice to provide more traction.

Salt and Your Vehicle

While salt on the road is helpful for keeping drivers safe, it is actually not good for your vehicle. Salt can cause any exposed metal on your car to start to corrode. This can be an issue for people living on an island surrounded by salt water, or those who drive on roads with salt brine on them. The brake and fuel lines are located near the undercarriage of the car. This area is where most of the salt damage happens. Therefore, the brake and fuel lines are very susceptible to rust and corrosion.

What to Do

In order to protect against salts on the road during winter, it’s important to be proactive. Give your car a good wax job to help protect the finish. If you have any scrapes, chips, or rust spots, go ahead and have those fixed before winter weather hits. Make sure to wash your car often. Spray down your car to wash away the salt. Invest in a car wash that will clean the undercarriage every few weeks in order to clean the areas of your car most likely to be affected by salt. Also, if you get on the road behind a truck spraying salt on the roads, stay back. This will keep your car from getting sprayed with salt too.