The worst part of winter isn’t the cold weather, the snowy roads or the dry air — it’s the salt cities use to de-ice their roads. It might make driving on cold roads a little safer, but it causes a host of other problems for cars and the people who drive them. What can you do to keep your car salt-free this winter?
Wash Frequently, Wax Heavily
One of the best things you can do for your car is washing it frequently during the winter months. It might seem like a bit of a chore, or something that bites into your winter budget, but it is one of the best ways to protect your investment.
Giving your car a heavy coat of wax before the beginning of the season can help reduce the impact salt has on your car’s paint. If you are going to be doing a lot of driving on salty roads, look into a ceramic coating instead. It works on all exterior parts of your car and provides the best protection against salt, snow and grime.
Parking outside in the snow isn’t ideal, especially if you have to park in the street where your car will be exposed to even more snow, sleet and salt. Parking in your garage, if you have one, is probably the best thing you can do, for both yourself and your car.
If you haven’t thought about your garage door in a while, it might be time for an upgrade, especially if the door you have isn’t insulated. In addition to protecting your car from the elements, a properly insulated garage and garage door can help make it more comfortable for you, as well. This insulation becomes essential if you want to work on your car during the winter months.
You should be driving more carefully anyway in icy or snowy conditions, but you can take a few extra steps to ensure you keep as much salt as possible away from your car.
First, avoid puddles. They’re often the result of salted roads — since the salt melts the ice — and contain a higher salt concentration than the roads themselves. Avoid them, especially if you don’t know how deep they are.
Second, avoid snow plows — they kick snow, salt and ice up into the air in their wake, and could potentially throw it up onto the roof of your car. This enables the salt to eat away at your clear coat in places it might not otherwise reach. We’re not saying salt is trying to eat your car, but if it gets the opportunity….
Don’t Neglect the Undercarriage
Your car’s undercarriage is most at risk for corrosion and rust during the winter months. It doesn’t get the protection wax or ceramic coatings offer, and drivers tend to forget about it — out of sight, out of mind. Don’t neglect your undercarriage. If you have the tools, spray off your undercarriage as often as you can. If you don’t, choose a car wash that has an undercarriage spray to get rid of some of the salt that accumulates there as you drive.
Winter can be a wonderful time to go driving, but if you’re heading out into the snow, make sure to protect your car from the harsh weather, and, more importantly, from the salt that’s supposed to keep roads safer.
Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA. Check out his site offthethrottle.com or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.