man checking tire in snowWhen the forecast predicts snow and ice, town trucks pass over Connecticut roads with rock salt. A practice used since the 1930s, salt helps make the roads more drivable by lessening ice formation.

Unfortunately, as vehicles drive over the newly salted roads, these small particles are kicked up into the most vulnerable areas, including the undercarriage, wheel wells, doors, tailgates, fenders, and can rapidly accelerate corrosion, if not removed.

Damage from Road Salt

Rust is a byproduct of corrosion; exposed metal and water spark this process with your car. Salt ultimately quickens its progression and, if ignored, your car can experience structural issues that affect its frame.

As your car drives on recently salted roads, debris, dirt and rocks can all affect the finish and invite rust. Protecting your car from salt requires a two-part approach: Guard the paint and finish from scratches, dings and dents, and remove any salt accumulation as soon as possible. Here’s where to start.

Apply Wax

A coating of wax over the surface acts as a shield against rocks, debris and flying salt particles. Apply a fresh coat to the body and along the undercarriage, then do periodic touchups. The barrier created not only guards against scratches that could expose the metal underneath, but further allows moisture to bead up and roll off, blocking out factors that could contribute to rust.

In the event you see a scratch on your vehicle after driving, repaint any of the chips you spot and reapply wax over the area.

Rustproof Your Vehicle

Especially when dealing with harsh winter weather, you may want to go a step beyond waxing and have your vehicle rustproofed. Similar to wax application, an oil will be applied over the vehicle’s surface and undercarriage, including door seams and other small crevices where rust can start and gradually progress unseen.

Areas prone to moisture will receive a thicker coating for a greater degree of resistance.

Wash Off Your Car

After you’ve driven on a recently salted road, wash your car off to remove all debris. This can either take place at home with a hose or at the car wash, where a high-pressure hose targets areas with high accumulation, including the undercarriage, fender and wheel wells. To effectively remove salt:

  • Spray your car from top to bottom
  • Manually scrub around the wheels and the wheel wells
  • Use soap that’s compatible with the wax on your car; household dish soap can wear away a previous coating
  • Reapply wax after you’ve finished washing the car
  • Get in the habit of washing your vehicle once a week
  • Only wash your car when the temperature is above 40 degrees to prevent moisture freezing

Watch Where You Drive

If you have to go out during inclement weather, think about areas where your car could pick up a greater amount of salt and avoid them, if possible. These may include:

  • Deep snow, as it can become embedded in your car’s undercarriage with debris and salt.
  • Before and after a snowstorm, as roads have the greatest amount of salt at these points.
  • Puddles, as you don’t know what’s at the bottom or floating in the water. Especially as snow melts, puddles can contain high concentrations of salt.

Don’t Forget the Interior

When you walk through the snow to reach your vehicle, you’re likely tracking in salt and debris. These compounds get embedded in the mats and carpet, creating stains and potentially passing through to the metal below.

To avoid this occurrence, get in the habit of cleaning your vehicle’s interior, including washing and vacuuming the carpet. To catch residue, consider placing rubber mats where passengers will be sitting.

To protect your car during the harshest season of the year, have DaSilva’s Auto Body rustproof or thoroughly wax your vehicle. To schedule an appointment, contact our Naugatuck shop today.