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How Bad is Salt for Your Car and What Drivers Should Know

September 18th, 2023 |

What Is Road Salt?

Road salt is a mixture of sodium chloride (table salt) and other chemical additives. It’s specifically used to lower the freezing point of water, turning ice and snow into slush to reduce the risk of sliding.

As vehicles drive over snowy or icy roads, the friction from the tires heats the snow, turning it into water. The water then dissolves the salt, creating a saline solution called brine. Brine has a lower freezing temperature than pure water, which melts ice buildup and helps prevent it from reforming, keeping the roads safer for motorists.

The Damaging Effects of Salt on Vehicles

You may be wondering: Does salt damage car paint? The answer is yes. Despite its benefits for winter driving, road salt can have an adverse effect on vehicles.

So, what does salt do to cars? For starters, it’s highly corrosive. When left unchecked on your car's surface, it can erode the protective layers of the paint, leaving it susceptible to chipping, fading, peeling, and rusting. Beyond the exterior, salt can cause undercarriage car damage, eroding vital auto parts like brake lines and exhaust systems.

Spotting Salt Damage on Your Car

While some damage, like chipping paint, is evident, other forms of salt damage might be more subtle. Here’s how to recognize salt damage to your vehicle:

Discoloration: Notice any unusual discoloration on your car's body? That might be the early stages of salt damage.

Rust Spots: Small brown spots, especially near the base of doors or wheel wells, indicate rusting, which can destroy your car’s body over time.

Chipping Paint: Salt could be the culprit if you notice areas where your car's paint is bubbling or chipping away. Protecting Your Car from Road Salt Damage Given the potential harm, you probably want to know how to prevent salt damage to your car. Take these precautions:

Wash Your Car Frequently: Regularly washing your car at one of our Take 5 Car Wash locations, with a particular focus on the undercarriage, helps prevent salt accumulation on its exterior.

Get it Waxed: A wax job adds an extra layer of protection between road salt and your car’s paint.

Cover Your Windshield’s Wiper Blades: This prevents the blades from deteriorating and scratching your windshield.

Stay Away from Snowbanks: Parking near or brushing against snowbanks can introduce more salt to your car's surface.

Give Your Car the Protection It Deserves with Maaco

Now that you know how bad salt is for your car, you’ll need to take steps to protect it during the winter. At Maaco, we offer paint job services designed to keep your car's exterior in excellent condition, shielding it against the harmful effects of road salt. Protect your investment and maintain the look of your vehicle by opting for our trusted services.

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