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Does Snow Salt Damage Cars? Tips to Protect Your Vehicle

Posted on: October 26, 2019


Does Snow Salt Damage Cars?

With winter right around the corner, it is important to get your car or truck ready in advance.

Snow salt damage can lead to corrosion and rust on vehicles if they’re not properly maintained. When it remains on the vehicle’s undercarriage and surface for too long, it can lead to rust and damage your car’s clear finish.

Snow salt can even end up causing damage to the mechanics of your vehicle.

If you want to keep your car looking and performing at its best, you’ll need to prevent surface and undercarriage damage from happening during the winter.

Does Snow Salt Damage Cars?

First, you probably want to know the clear cut answer to, “Does snow salt damage cars?”

And the sad thing is that the simplest answer to this question is yes.

As your mechanic or auto body specialist will tell you, snow salt damage can lead to expensive repair costs if it’s not handled.

In many areas of Illinois, snow salt, sanding, and plowing are used to make roads safer to drive on during winter snowstorms and icy weather.

While these techniques help to prevent car accidents, they aren’t always good for your car’s health. The salt works to melt ice and snow, but it can also cause rust under a car followed closely by additional salt corrosion.

This works because salt has a lower melting point than water does. By adding salt to ice, you can get the ice to melt at colder temperatures than it can with only water.

When you combine salt with sand, you also increase traction along icy roadways for added grip.

Because snow salt causes damage to the bottom of a car and its paint job, it is important to learn how to protect your car from snow and road salt.

Brake lines are one of the areas frequently affected by road salt, so you need to have your braking system regularly checked during the winter. You also need to inspect your vehicle for rust and salt corrosion in vulnerable areas.

Salt is naturally abrasive, so it accelerates the creation of rust on any kind of metal surface. When it comes into contact with metallic parts of your car, it can cause body and engine damage.

But the biggest danger is to your undercarriage. Rust under a car is a major risk for your car’s functionality and safety. Your transmission, brakes, and other parts are all exposed to the snow, ice, and road salt.

Car Rust from Salt in Undercarriage

And while surface technology in your paint helps to protect your car to a certain extent, snow salt damage can quickly overtake any barrier to the paint job.

The main goal is to prevent damage to the bottom of a car in the first place. Unfortunately, this goal is often easier said than done.

Because snow and salt corrosion may happen no matter what, you should routinely get your car inspected and repaired to prevent major safety issues or extra damage from developing.

How to Protect Your Car From Snow and Road Salt

One of the best things you can do is take precautions and prepare your car before winter arrives.

Start by washing and waxing your vehicle before the first snowfall. It may be a good idea to visit professional detailers to get the job done.

In general, a wax coating will last for around 6 to 8 weeks so you may need to get it done a few times each winter depending on the weather. You can also use synthetic paint sealants, which can last until the following summer. 

All of these options work by making it harder for salt to cling to your vehicle.

If salt can’t stick to your car’s undercarriage, paint, or metal surfaces, it avoids the possibility of corrosion issues. And these pre-planned solutions are usually more affordable than dealing with rust and salt corrosion.

Once winter arrives, you’ll need to be proactive in protecting your car from snow salt.

Car Tire Snow and Salt Damage

Make sure you wash your vehicle after snowstorms to keep salt and ice off of it. By wiping down your car’s surface with a dry towel after the wash, you can keep it looking great and fresh further issues.

In addition to protecting your car’s paint, another crucial step is to visit a body or collision shop to protect your undercarriage with an undercoating treatment.

Corrosion on the undercarriage is one of the worst kinds of snow salt damage as it affects the mobility and structural integrity of your vehicle.

While you could try a drive-through car wash to clean your undercarriage and paint job, it is generally more effective to use a hand wash and undercarriage spray.

Tips for Maintaining Your Car in the Winter

  • Wash your vehicle regularly to rinse away the snow salt, sand, and dirt. Ideally, you should wash and dry your car every 10 days or less.
  • Avoid driving in deep snow as it can become compressed and packed into the undercarriage of your vehicle. This can lead to poor braking, inhibited airflow, corrosion, and vibrations.
  • Repair any paint chips larger than a pen to prevent corrosion to the exposed metal.
  • Clean your car as often as you can when the temperature fluctuates above and below 35°F. The real road salt damage doesn’t usually happen until the temperature starts to warm up.
  • Wax your car before winter weather begins, so your paint job is protected from road salt.
  • Avoid areas with standing water because snow salt collects in these areas and can easily be splashed onto your car.
  • Remember to wax your vehicle every two to three months, so the coating stays strong enough to protect your paint job from any sources of snow salt damage.
Rust Damage from Snow Salt on Vehicle

Protect Your Car from Snow Salt Damage

While you can’t control winter weather, you can prevent your car from becoming damaged from the elements.

If you are struggling with snow salt or rust damage, our experienced technicians can help you prevent and repair any signs of wear.

Whether you have snow salt damage or other auto body repairs that need to be taken care of, trust Todd’s Auto Body to handle the job! Give us a call today at (217) 431-7209 to learn more!



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