The Effects of Road Salt on Your Car

De-icing chemical reagent on road in winter time. Pavement is sprinkled with technical salt

Winter is the most-hated season in America—which makes sense with all the vehicle damage that can happen during those months. Battery problems, hydroplaning, black ice, and windshield damage; all of these can cause major problems when it comes to driving. Salt on the roads is there to melt the ice so you can drive safer, but unfortunately, de-icing salt can also damage your car.

The Effects of Road Salt on Vehicles

All steel contains iron. After iron is exposed to humidity, moisture, or vapor, the oxygen surrounding it produces electrons that form hydroxyl ions, which turns into hydroxyl iron oxide, or “rust.” Since cars are mostly made up of steel, corrosion is very common, and rust will begin to appear on the lower parts of your car when exposed to moisture and oxygen.


Salt causes the chemical process of “rusting” to speed up and ultimately makes rust appear in more places—not to mention that it also spreads the rust around a lot faster than it would without the salt. Since many of the major parts of vehicles are made of steel, they’re likely to rust very fast when in contact with salt. Your brakes, suspension, and doors are all lower to the ground and are places you should check when looking for rust on your car.


The paint on your car will protect it from some serious damage when hit with corrosion. Paint will not last forever, though, and soon you might see some rust bubble up towards the bottom of your doors. If not taken care of properly, it will spread to other parts of your car.

How to Protect Your Car

Fortunately, there are many ways to keep your car clean and prevent rust. For example, when driving, try to avoid deep snow and puddles. The snow can get stuck under your car, which can help cause rust, and the puddles are filled with dirty salt water which speeds up the rusting process.


Make sure to wash your car frequently once it gets over 40 degrees Fahrenheit and especially after any storms that happened in the last few days. A few other things you can do to avoid rust before winter even starts is to consider waxing your car and/or getting an undercoat spray in the fall.


Cleaning the carpets of your car will keep the rust from spreading to the inside, where you do not want it. White vinegar and water mixed and sprayed on the floor of your car will keep the inside clean. You can even use this concoction on the outside of your car when you want to get rid of or stop the spread of rust.

Salt Damage on Your Car

Salt can damage your car, but it’s best to be proactive and stop it from happening in the first place. But salt is only one of the winter conditions that can affect your vehicle. Drivers in the winter months also must deal with dead batteries, tire issues, failing spark plugs, and more. When disaster strikes, you can benefit from a NAPA Gold Certified repair shop. For quality repairs in Central Minnesota, turn to Advanced Repair for help getting back on the road.

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