Brake lines, exhaust, bolts — all susceptible to damage from salt
This week's winter storm is long gone but some side effects could be lurking under your car or truck.
Automotive experts warn that commonly used de-icers thrown on the roads ahead before and during storms, like salt and brine, can take a costly toll on your vehicle — if you don't do something about it.
Walt Burton, service manager at Affordable Automotive Service Center in Brick, has seen firsthand the rust-related vehicle damage caused over time by New Jersey winters.
"I usually see it on the brake lines. I see it on the undercarriage, exhaust, bolts," Burton told New Jersey 101.5. "When we put the car up, you'll see a lot of that road salt and grime on the undercarriage of the car."
Burton said the de-icing methods will eat away at a vehicle's paint as well.
"After a storm, how many cars do you see driving around, that you don't even know what color they are?" he said.
But all of this corrosion takes time. You're not going to see damage today from the Sunday-Tuesday winter event that New Jersey just experienced. The odds of seeing damage are lower altogether, experts add, if you take the time to care for your vehicle during and directly after the winter months.
AAA, which in 2017 said drivers spend about $3 billion annually on repairs for rust damage related to de-icing, offers the following tips to reduce the possibility of damage:
- Frequently wash your vehicle, paying particular attention to the undercarriage. Many drive-through car washes offer an undercarriage rinse as an option.
- Always use a high-quality car wash solution, not a household dish detergent that will strip the wax from your vehicle.
- Repair any body damage and touch up paint scratches and chips that expose bare metal which could lead to rust.
- Before the start of winter, thoroughly wash and clean your vehicle prior to the start of winter and apply a coat of wax to protect the finish.
- Give the entire vehicle and undercarriage one last cleaning in the spring. Any deposits left over from winter can continue to cause corrosion year-round if not properly removed.
Burton noted that the undercarriage of a car is equipped with protection from the manufacturer, but that can only hold up for so long.
"We have a lot of snowbirds in New Jersey that take their cars to Florida in the winter. When they come back here, their undercarriage is perfect," Burton said.