How to Protect Your Car From Road Salt Damage

You can prevent road salt damage to cars by waxing your car before winter, applying an undercoating, avoiding puddles, and more.
Written by Ethan Moser
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Road salt can protect your car from dangerous wintertime collisions, but it can also cause corrosive damage to your vehicle. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to prevent salt damage to cars, including waxing your car before winter arrives and doing your best to avoid driving through puddles.
Road salt helps to melt ice and snow, making wintertime driving possible and safe—especially in colder, northern climates. While these brines are crucial to keeping you and your car safe, they can also cause damage to your car if you don’t take the proper precautionary measures.
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How does road salt work?

Road salt is a common sight for any drivers living in northern climates where snow and ice are common. The application of road salt helps to lower the freezing point of water, thereby melting snow and making it more difficult for dangerous black ice to form on our roads that can lead to accidents. 
However, in order for road salt to have its intended effects, it has to be mixed with a small amount of water. 
The mix of salt and water, more commonly known as a “brine” is oftentimes applied to roads in an attempt to keep ice from forming and snow from sticking, but if there is already a significant layer of snow on the road, this brine can seep down, causing the snow to float on top of the road and making it easier to remove. 
It should be noted that road salt only works in temperatures above 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature below that is simply too cold for the salt to make any beneficial difference. In temperatures below 15 degrees, road crews often opt to spread sand on roads to increase traction.
MORE: Driving in the snow: 7 tips for winter safety

How does road salt damage your car?

In terms of practicality, road salt is a godsend for wintertime drivers, making hydroplaning and dangerous accidents far less likely than they would be without it. However, road salt can also have a negative impact on your car if you aren't taking the proper precautionary methods. 
Road salt can cause a chemical reaction that is corrosive to the exposed metals that make up your car’s body and undercarriage. In particular, your vehicle’s brakes and fuel lines are susceptible to rust and corrosion as a result of contact with road salt. 
MORE: Tips for safe winter car storage
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How to prevent salt damage to your car

Since we can’t get rid of road salt altogether, what can you as a driver do to prevent damage to your car caused by road salt? Here are a few tried-and-true methods to help minimize rust and corrosion damage to your car this winter: 
  • Wax your car before winter: Waxing your car is a great way to apply an added layer of protection against road salt damage; however, it is going to be increasingly difficult to apply a wax coating in colder temperatures. Therefore, we suggest waxing your car before it gets chilly, preferably in early autumn.
  • Wash frequently: Removing packed-on road salt from your vehicle is the best way to avoid rusting and corrosion. It’s best practice to wash your car frequently, especially after a winter storm when new salts are applied. 
  • Avoid driving behind snowplows: Driving immediately behind a snowplow is the quickest way to get road salt on your vehicle before it has a chance to melt. Because this salt is more concentrated, it is more likely to do significant corrosive damage to your car. 
  • Avoid deep snow and puddles: Similarly, avoiding deep snow and puddles where road salt has collected throughout the winter is vital to keeping your car as far from excessive salt exposure as possible. 
  • Consider undercoating: Applying an undercoating to your vehicle post-purchase is a fast and easy way to enhance protection against road salt damage to your vehicle before it even sees a single snowflake. 
  • Repair rust before snowfall: If you already have minor rust sport on your car, it's best practice to repair these before the first snowfall of the year. Because significant corrosion has already occurred in these spots, it will be easier for road salts to further deteriorate the metal.
MORE: Winter car covers

How to save money on car insurance

In addition to protecting your car against road salt damage, you’ll want to be sure that you’re protected against an array of other expected and unexpected events that might affect your vehicle by finding great
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On average, Jerry saves users $887 a year! Those savings could help you pay for an impressive undercoating to protect your car against road salt damage for years to come!
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