We all know how bad too much salt in our diets can be but many of us don’t realize how bad salt is to our vehicles and roadways. This winter in the GTA, tonnes of salt has already been scattered across streets, sidewalks and highways in an attempt to keep ice at bay over the coldest months of the year. While it certainly improves the road conditions and makes for easier driving, the long term effects can be quite severe.
Not a lot of research has been done into the corrosiveness of road salt but we are becoming more aware just how dangerous overuse of it can be. In Montreal, the Champlain Bridge is currently being rebuilt at the whopping cost of 4.2 billion dollars all because the original bridge, constructed only in 1962, was eaten away and deemed too unsafe to use because it was so decayed from exposure to salt! The salt brine solution sprayed on roads in Mississauga, Toronto, Caledon, Brampton, Georgetown and Vaughan all seeps into the concrete and speeds up the erosion process. That coupled with the up and down temperatures over the winter months leads to less than stellar roads and potholes, which are no friend to your vehicle – or your nerves when you drive over one.
So those are just a couple of examples of how destructive road salt can be to concrete and asphalt but how does it react with your vehicle? We are all way too familiar with the unsightly, greyish haze that coats the exterior of all cars, trucks and minivans this time of year. It’s part dirt, part pollution and a huge part of that briny residue from melted snow that has come in contact with road salt and miraculously manages to cling tightly to just about every visible surface of your vehicle. While it’s unpleasant to look at, the really ugly part is all the surfaces the salt solution sticks to that you can’t see, specifically under your car where there are lots of metal parts that are achingly susceptible to corrosion. It’s not just cosmetic damage that road salt brings.
In 2015, three thousand vehicles were taken off the roads by Transport Canada because they were parked at the Port of Halifax during a wicked ice storm. The cars made it through the storm okay, but the massive amount of salt laid down to de-ice the roads rendered the vehicles too dangerous to drive because they couldn’t steer properly, all thanks to over-exposure to the salt. Also two winters ago, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pointed the finger of blame at the corrosive effects of road salt for thousands of vehicles experiencing brake failure.
The inside of your vehicle is just as fragile, if not more so. Despite your best attempts to knock the snow from the bottom of your shoes or boots before getting inside your car, you’re still bringing the salt in with you be it through salt in the treads of your boots or through salt laced snow and slush that melts as soon as you turn on your vehicle’s heating system. Even with floor mats installed, some of that liquid can easily seep under the mat and into the carpeting and stay trapped for days and weeks on end and eat away at the metal frame underneath, unbeknownst to you until one day, you put your foot down and there’s a hole beneath the carpeting! If you have leather upholstery, salt loves to eat that up too.
So what do you do to combat these awful things happening to your vehicle this winter? Get serious about keeping your vehicle clean, inside and out. You probably don’t have the time or energy to do it but that’s what the professionals are for. Taking your vehicle through a luxury car wash featuring soft foam technology will loosen up the grime and salt from every surface of your vehicle’s exterior and prevent salt corrosion from going further. That gets followed up with a fresh water rinse to cleanse your vehicle’s outer shell of any excess brine and road sand. Next, a hand dry by trained professionals who will not only make sure there are no water spots or streaks but they’ll also be able to spot any remaining salty residue or if some damage has happened. Don’t forget to get interior detailing to rid your vehicle of any salt lurking on the inside.