Here’s What Road Salt Does to Your Car

Across the country, we spend more than two billion dollars each year on snow and ice control. Just one municipality can go through 20,000 tons or more of salt each winter keeping the roadways clear. Road salt, chemical de-icers, sand, and liquid brine mixtures are all essential applications for keeping cars on the road and out of ditches. But they take a heavy toll on the automobiles themselves, which is why drivers should take the time to go through a car wash regularly.

What Road Salt Does

The number one concern regarding road salt and some road salt alternatives is corrosion. Salt causes metal to rust. It’s the same reason why residents of tropical islands have to replace their bikes often—the salty air alone is powerful enough to corrode the metal.

The salt applied to roadways lowers the melting point of ice. The end result is a slushy, watery mess on the road that flies up into the undercarriage of passing vehicles and sticks there. Saltwater is a particularly good conductor because it has lots of dissociated ions, which trigger chemical reactions that significantly accelerate the corrosive process.

As a side note, alternatives to sodium chloride aren’t necessarily less harmful for vehicles. Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride distribute even more ions and create even more effective electrolytes that trigger corrosion. In short, they can be more harmful for your car.

Which Car Parts Are Most Harmed

The road salt kicked up into a car’s undercarriage has wide open access to a number of essential components. The fuel lines and brakes are close to the undercarriage, and therefore are highly susceptible to corrosion. Rust can also affect the muffler system, exhaust, coil spring, and frame. All of these are excellent reasons to visit a car wash after a winter storm.

This winter and throughout the year, you can head over to Steamboat Springs, CO’s only full-service car wash: Mountain View Car Wash & Detailing. They also offer complete detailing services. To inquire about their hours, you can call (970) 870-3363.