Road Salt & Winter Car Care
A snowplow can be a welcomed sight after a big snow, but the heavy-duty road salt they leave behind can take a toll on your car. Here are a few things you can do to protect your car from the damaging effects of road salt this winter.
Step 1: Before the first snowfall, give your car a bumper-to-bumper scrubbing. If it's already winter and temps are dropping into the freezing range at night, wash your car early in the day so it has time to completely dry before nightfall.
Step 2: Inspect your car for any cracks or chips in the paint, including rust spots, and repair them as soon as possible. It's tough for salt to damage a car with a protective primer and paint coating.
Step 3: A winter wax will give your car an added buffer of protection. Plus, a fresh wax will make it much easier to wash off salt and grime throughout the season.
Road salt loves to eat away at chrome, eventually causing it to corrode and flake. If you have chrome wheels, consider swapping them for a durable alloy or steel set during winter. Whether you have chrome, alloy or steel, it's best to steer clear of winter puddles, since they generally contain cold standing water full of — you guessed it — road salt.
If you have a warm garage to park in after a cold drive home, it's good to be you. But if there's any snow left on your car, you're actually at a higher risk for rust than your neighbor who trudges in from the street.
Why? Because rust forms when moisture and oxygen team up on bare metal (think melting snow on wheel wells, undercarriage and chrome wheels). Salt only speeds up the corrosive process, so it's important to wash your car often if you drive on salt-treated roads.
A quick spin through the carwash every 7-10 days will get those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies clean. Just be sure your carwash uses fresh water, not recycled. Otherwise, you risk getting rinsed with someone else's salty water.
If your car is black, white or red, it's a good idea to get another wax mid-winter since these colors are more sensitive to acid rain and UV rays.
Once spring arrives, give your car a detailed wash and wax to remove dirt, grime and any remaining road salt still hanging on from winter.