Salt: Bad for Your Diet AND Your Vehicle - Zing BlogI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t like snow. My dislike for the little white flurries can mostly be attributed to my hatred for cold weather. However, coming in a close second is my displeasure of driving on the slippery substance. In case my two reasons for hating snow aren’t good enough for you, I present you with yet another reason to wish summer temperatures lasted year round: road salt.

What could possibly be wrong with road salt? After all, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, salt lowers water’s freezing point, causing any ice already formed to melt even though the air temperature remains well below freezing. While the salt makes it easier to drive in treacherous conditions, it can also cause damage to your vehicle. Just like too much salt is bad for your diet, too much salt is also bad for your vehicle’s body and undercarriage.

Automobiles that are exposed to road salt year after year eventually begin to rust. At first glance, it may be upsetting to see rust begin to build up on your new vehicle after driving through the snow for a couple winters. However, the real damage takes place on the undercarriage, where the rust eats away at the metal, causing brakes and shock absorbers to wear out.

So, how do you ensure your vehicle makes it through the winter unscathed? There’s actually quite a bit you can do to prolong its life. Read ahead to find out how.


Some of the precautions, such as waxing, can be put into place before winter officially begins. A coat of wax, followed by a wax sealant is a good place to start. This step helps protect the paint from the harsh salt and cold temperatures.

Seal undercarriage

This is another step that can be implemented near the end of fall. If you know where to find the brake and fuel lines, you can do this step yourself. If you’re like me, you’re much better off shelling out some cash to let a professional do the job.


This is the most important step you can take to limit the damage. Some people recommend washing your car every seven days, while others say it needs to be done every 10 days. Either way, you need to wash your car often. Many car washes also offer undercarriage cleaning, which will be well worth the extra couple bucks in the long run. I’d also recommend re-waxing your vehicle once or twice during the winter after thoroughly washing it.

Limit driving

I know this is easier said than done, but if you can avoid driving during and immediately following a snow storm, you’ll be less susceptible to damage. Why? Because salt trucks typically hit the roads a few hours in advance of a storm and continue spreading salt well after the storm has ended. It’s during this time that your vehicle will pick up the most salt.

Avoid heated garages

As a driver, I know this probably isn’t what you want to hear. Would you rather park in your driveway or a garage connected to your house? I think most people would much rather park in a garage, although that isn’t in your vehicle’s best interest. In fact, it could speed up the rusting process. For salt to begin its deteriorating process, it needs to warm up. Parking your vehicle in a heated garage at night will speed up the process. The extra couple seconds you spend walking from your driveway to your home will be worth it in the future.

Dodge puddles

Again, I know this is easier said than done. By all means, don’t put yourself at risk by slamming on your brakes or weaving in and out of traffic to avoid a little water. However, puddles are drenched with road salt, so if you can safely avoid them, do so.

If you don’t think road salt is too big of a deal, think again. I’m in the final six months of a leased car I’ve had for the last two and a half years. There is rust build-up on the driver side door as well as the passenger side door. What’s even worse is that the dealership told me that I’ll have to pay to have it repaired!

Has anyone’s dislike for snow increased after reading about the damage road salt causes? Do you have any other tips on how to decrease the impact of road salt? Let us know in the comments section below!


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. So regarding heated garages. It really depends on when you drive and how dry you keep your garage floor. Garages are much better places for cars than driveways if they are kept dry. The engine starts easier, fluids move well, and you remove all that wear and tear caused internally when you start a freezing vehicle.

    If are driving through tons of snow that is hanging on your underside, and you park outside, that material might freeze and when you use your vehicle the next day, cause damage or reduce vehicle safety.

    Further, left outside in the elements, with temperatures varying and sunlight damaging the surface of your car, there is no doubt that damage is still being done. Winter is full of days outside at 3′ which might get up to 18’C on tarmack on a sunny day. In a garage, it may be much less humid and warm than your drive way. It’s March in Canada right now, and my garage floor is bone dry and so is my car. It is much wetter outside.

    It’s important to keep your garage floor clean of fallen snow and puddles – use a snow shovel to push it outside. Leave the door open for a few minutes and give the garage a chance to air out after its been wet.

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