Corrosion Complications: The negative effects of salt on your car and how to slow it down

Weather

(WTNH) — We’ve had several rounds of snow this month. Meteorologist Ashley Baylor shows us why it’s important to rinse the salt off your car during and after the winter months.

It’s the season of salt treatments. The salt will help keep you safer on the road, but it can be a nightmare for your car. Here’s why spending a little more now can save you thousands in the long run.

Before a snowstorm, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and local municipalities spray a salt brine on the roads to manage potentially slippery conditions.

Rick Fontana of the Office of Emergency Management in New Haven explained, “It’s a combination of water and salt–or sodium chloride–the bottom line is, it’s 77% water and 23% salt.”

Sodium chloride–great chemical for deicing–but bad for your car.

Chris Jenak, a mechanic at Glastonbury Oil and Service told News 8, “Back in the day, when we used salt and sand, you had rust and you had corrosion, but it seems like within the past 10+ years, with this calcium chloride, everything is rotting out on vehicles…Rotted brake lines, rotted fuel lines…fuel pumps…some frames rotting out. Anything that has a metal composite to it, this chemical just gets on, and just eats and rots it, and corrodes away.”

Chris Jenak runs Glastonbury Oil and Service. He says since Connecticut has switched to all salt, they have seen an uptick in corrosion complications.

“It’s a combination of normal rusting of every vehicle because every car rusts. But this calcium chloride just basically puts the corrosion level and corrosion factor into overdrive. It’s a moisture activated chemical, so even when the winter is over, you get a nice, rainy day in the summer or a moist dewy day, it activates the chemical. It continues to sit there and react and eat away at all the metal.”

While there is no perfect solution, you can slow the process of corrosion by taking care of your car during and after the winter months, washing your cars and using a corrosion inhibitor.

“The best way to handle the use of pretreating with salt or brine solution is to actually rinse the vehicles off, the undercarriages, go to the car wash,” Fontana said. “When our tire apparatus pulls back into the base, they immediately wash out the wheel wells, because, over a period of time, it will cause corrosion…But you got to find the balance–it does make the streets safer and that is our entire goal. So along with making the streets safer, it does have an adverse reaction to the underneath of cars over a longer period of time.”

So spend a little extra and spring for the undercarriage blast at the car wash. It’s one small thing that can help save you money down the road.

And by the way, sodium chloride not only affects cars but groundwater and surface water as well.

Friday on News 8, how you can protect your wells and drinking water from this chemical.

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