Salt on the Roads: Good for Driving, Bad for your Car

by Joe Ferguson on March 22, 2013


Salt on the roads is a godsend when dangerous winter driving conditions crop up. The specially formulated salt cuts right through the accumulating ice and snow to make winter driving a much safer endeavor. That’s all well and good for us humans, but what kind of effects does road salt have on our cars?

The ice-melting powers of road salt create a lower freezing temperature on the road, causing ice that would normally affix itself to the road surface to dissolve and melt away. These corrosive properties may keep roadways clear, but the same properties that give this salt its abilities can also have damaging effects on your car.

The corrosive properties of the road salt can be detrimental to your car’s overall health. The salt can eat away your car’s paint job and cause rusting to your undercarriage and frame. Taking care of the salt buildup before it becomes a problem can save you many headaches preserve your used car value, and keep you from unnecessary auto shop visits.

Our advice for keeping your car free of rust accumulation in winter months:

  • Avoid driving immediately after a snowstorm; we all know that’s a dangerous time to hit the roads, but you’ll also miss peak road-salting time
  • Wash your car between snowstorms. Check the weather to make sure that another storm doesn’t start up the second you leave the car wash, but getting the road salt and winter grime cleaned from your car’s body will prevent corrosive buildup
  • Don’t wait until spring to wash your car. Warmer weather will heat up the salt that has been collected in the car’s crevices and expedite the oxidation process

You might want to consider winter car washes as part of your new winter car maintenance routine, along with receiving a brake check or oil change. Spring is now upon us (despite all of this spring snow) so hopefully you’ll just be able to tuck these tips into your back pocket for next year’s winter driving season.

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