Well, they say rust never sleeps; I’m sure we’ve all had some experience with that phenomenon. But, add in a heaping helping of road salts and you’ve got corrosion on steroids ! For more sustainable vehicle care, you should be aware of what’s really happening.
Your car, truck, trailer etc. are prime targets for a lathering every time you drive on roads during a wintry event that requires salting. That salt can be in the form of rock salt crystals, beet juice, cheese brine or some chemical mixture specific to the conditions or type of surface. Obviously, the purpose is to keep ice and snow from making conditions too hazardous to drive on these surfaces. The amount of salt-type material that you encounter during almost any length of driving is staggering.
Your vehicle gets “plastered” with the stuff in every nook and cranny underneath by direct “upswish” from your tires and general updraft. The rest of the vehicle gets that whitish salt look all over it from the splashing of other vehicles around you, most notably trucks and buses. It is quite easy to write “Wash Me” into such coatings !
The parts of the vehicle most affected are the exhaust pipes, mufflers, clamps and hangers; the hydraulic brake lines, wheel components, coil springs, axles, transfer cases, frame, shields, fasteners and, well, just about anything that is made of a metal that can corrode. Most notably, the braking and steering systems are primary concerns for safety.
In general, it is important to get to the car wash as soon as possible to help keep your vehicle as salt-free as possible. This is hard during long stretches of freezing events as the stuff keeps being applied and then splashed around. It will still be worthwhile to take the time to get that washing, especially up underneath, after heavy salting exposure. The drive-through vehicle wash gets more of the undercarriage than you can probably reach by hand. Remember that besides the many commercial car wash facilities, ACUA has a large facility to handle RV’s, trailers, trucks, buses etc. available to the public for specific fees. These facilities are good from an environmental standpoint because they contain the soaps, salts and residues safely rather than having it all go into storm drains haphazardly and then down into our waterways.
Some mechanics recommend that stainless steel brake lines be considered as replacements for corrosion prone steel, to maintain the integrity of this extremely important system. Other parts may be available in stainless steel as well, but this should be discussed with your dealer or certified mechanic before having something installed.
A sure bit of good advice is to wax your vehicle’s painted surfaces before the onset of winter each year. Make sure to get all of the areas that wrap under the car and toward the wheel well areas, as well as door frames and small places where water may linger. In any season, make sure to unclog leaves, pine needles, pollen, sticks and other debris from the drainage pathways around the windshield, under the hood and down underneath where the vehicle’s internal drainage is supposed to flow freely, so that more salt laden water won’t “gang up” on your vehicle’s infrastructure from the inside out. Make sure that your undercoatings are intact and spot-coat areas that may be compromised by body repairs or abrasion. It is also good to ask your mechanic to always check for signs of corrosive failure whenever the car is up on a lift for any reason. It could preempt a system failure that may have all started with the dose of salt!
Go Green Galloway is a volunteer organization dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of Galloway through the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation, environmental education and the implementation of sustainable practices. We always welcome new volunteer members. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mary at 609-742-7076. Also be sure to like our Facebook page.