Road Salt

Dear Tracy,
In my area there has been some significant snow fall and ice accumulation lately and I have seen the salt trucks out in full force. While I appreciate the safer roads, I am worried about the affect the salt will have on my tires. Is there any particular maintenance or protective measures I should be taking to preserve my tires during winter driving?
Sarah B.

Dear Sarah,
Salt provides an inexpensive and fast way to deal with snow and ice problems on driveways and roadways because salt lowers the freezing/melting point of water. Unfortunately the affects of salt can be brutal on vehicles, asphalt, and roads, as well as your leather footwear. But as long as you have good winter tires that are in decent shape, with a good amount of tread, you should not have to worry about salt damaging your tires. Your wheels are more likely to suffer damage as a result of road salt. The metal surfaces of your vehicle are most susceptible to salt damage. Salt can eventually lead to rust occurring on the body and underside areas of your vehicle. The good news is that the process of salt leading to rust takes time.
Especially since the coatings and paint finishes used today do a much better job of providing protection. If you take your vehicle in for regular washings during the winter months you should have no problems. How frequently you need to run through the car wash will depend on how much salt and road sludge you encounter. Because salt is especially hard on chrome, if you have really expensive wheels, it may be worth swapping them out it the winter months to make sure they are shining brightly for your summer driving. Lastly, make it part of your fall routine to wax your vehicle. This extra protection will make your winter washes more effective.