Winter road salt is critical for preventing accidents and keeping roadways safe. Salt lowers the freezing/melting point of water, making it a fast and inexpensive way to melt slippery snow and ice on the road. Unfortunately, salt is also a highly corrosive element, and its affects can be extremely damaging, leaving your car with the road salt blues.
Road salt exposure throughout the winter can wreak havoc on the metal components of your car. Most vehicles have an exposed underbody, so most salt damage occurs underneath the car, where it goes visually undetected. Rust on essential parts of your vehicle can leave you with huge problems ranging from brake system leaks to frame damage. While your rubber tires will suffer little or no damage from salt, your wheels are highly vulnerable, since the metal areas of your car are most at risk for salt damage.
Fortunately, the coatings and paint finishes used in today’s automotive manufacturing do a much better job of providing protection against salt damage. And since the process of salt leading to corrosion and rust takes awhile, you have time to undo salt damage potential.
The best way to protect your car from road salt corrosion is to take it in for regular washings during the winter months . Base the frequency of your car washings on how much salt and road sludge it is exposed to on a regular basis. If you have really expensive wheels, consider swapping them out it the winter months, since salt is particularly hard on chrome.
For further protection, make it part of your fall routine to wax your vehicle. Waxing in the fall will help make your winter washes more effective.
It is always alarming to see one of the gazillion warning lights on your dashboard illuminate. If you drive a newer vehicle that has an integrated Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) you may find you’ve been recently haunted by the light shown on the right. Seeing the TPMS light more often in winter is not uncommon, but it is also not something you should ignore.
First, it is important to understand how your TPMS works. The system use sensors technology to alert drivers when tire pressure in one of the tires goes below a predetermined level. When tire pressure in one or more of your drops, the light comes on.
Since air pressure decreases in frigid temperatures, drivers tend to see the TPMS light illuminate. According to tire experts, air pressure in a tire goes down 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change. While you need not necessarily be surprised if you see the TPMS light come on during cold spells, you should be sure to manually check the air pressure of your tires.
It is very important to check the pressure of your tires when it is cold outside and to keep tires inflated to the proper levels. Reasons include:
- Low tire pressure can make a vehicle handle poorly
- Tires tend to wear out much faster when they are not properly inflated
- Under inflated tires tend to overheat, which could lead to a blowout
- Low tire pressure reduces gas mileage and costs you money
Check the pressure of your tires monthly. In order to obtain the most accurate pressure level, wait until tires have cooled – about 30 minutes after parking.
We are well into fall, and winter weather is just around the corner! Get ready for winter driving with these simple winter maintenance tips:
- Inspect Your Tire Tread & Check Tire Pressure
Be sure to check your tire tread depth. Make sure you have at least 2/32″ of depth for best tire performance. It is also important to check tire pressure. This should be done on a regular basis, but it is especially imperative to check tire pressure before winter arrives. Remember to also check your spare – you never know when you’ll need it.
- Make Sure Your Antifreeze Tank Is Full
It is important to maintain a full tank with a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. Clean, quality antifreeze will deliver the winter protection your vehicle needs.
- Test and Inspect Your Battery
Extreme cold temperatures can degrade car batteries internally and accelerate the rate of battery terminal corrosion. This will lead to a battery that is more likely to die. Don’t risk getting stranded! Check your battery cables to make sure they are clean and firmly attached to the terminals.
- Check Your Washer Fluid & Wipers
We use much more washer fluid in the winter, when dirty slush and snow continually hit the windshield. Keep the washer fluid tank full. Choose a winter cleaning formula that contains sufficient antifreeze ingredients to keep it from freezing. Also, be sure that your wipers are in decent shape to do their job. The blades should make full contact with the glass to thoroughly clean it. If you live in an area with heavy snow fall, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup, and promote good contact between the blade and the glass.
Once you have take these maintenance steps, you will be ready to face the ice and snow. Most importantly, in seriously hazardous winter driving conditions, remember to take it slowly and drive safely!