De-icing fluids contain ingredients that can stick to your car and damage mechanicals and parts over time
Meet the new gunk; different from the old gunk.
Come winter, your municipality used to keep you from slip sliding away by using a combination of rock salt and sand. It would be applied after the snow had started, to penetrate through the ice and provide traction. It was a less than ideal solution, for several reasons. Rock salt can literally blow off the road surface in wintry conditions, lessening its effectiveness. Waiting for accumulation meant road crews could be on the road at 2am and 4am and more, chasing conditions and requiring expensive multiple overtime shifts on shrinking budgets. The environmental impact of that salt being washed into drainage systems and roadside vegetation also took its toll.
Today, the solution is in the solution. Creative minds discovered the best remedy was to make something sticky; things like beet juice or corn oil or starch or sugar, often in combination with magnesium chloride. You can lay down a layer of something that is effectively glue, meaning you can do it ahead of a storm. It is more likely to stay put, meaning less man-hours required, and less likely to blow away, meaning more effective at increasing tractions for cars. It’s also easier on the grass and more environmentally friendly, though it is harder on asphalt and infrastructure like bridges.
The new solutions are more cost effective and safer, but are taking a toll somewhere else: your vehicle.
“All of that glue coats the underside of your car,” says Freeman Young, president of Krown Rust Control. “It coats your gas and brake lines, ABS and exhaust sensors, spot welds, unit ties and the space over the gas tank.” All places where corrosion goes to live.
“It pits windshields and destroys wiper blades,” Young continues. “It clouds headlight covers and has a negative impact on tires, as it can dry the rubber.”
We usually associate rust control with body panels, but Young is highlighting another reason to pay close attention to your car’s other components at this time of year. Krown treatments will provide protection to the underside of your car at the same time they’re dispersing their product throughout the body of your car. Rust protection is crucial in this country; do your homework and address the issue in some way to extend the lifetime of your vehicle.
So while our roads are being made safer, how do you counter the cost to your ride? Keep it clean.
“Wash it as often as you can, to remove the residue that is clinging to it,” suggest Young. By all means run it though a car wash, but make sure it’s a fresh water one. Any using recycled water will just be pumping salt solutions back up into and onto your car.
If you’re worried about your doors icing shut, use this tip: buy a silicone spray and bomb the weather-stripping with it. It won’t dry out the rubber and will prevent freezing.
Good, fitted rubber mats are another must. Clean them regularly and vacuum any salt solutions out of the carpet. Moisture can be trapped beneath mats, down into the car’s carpeting and against metal. Another hotspot for corrosion that you can’t see. Use a shop vac if things get soggy, or have a detailer do it for you. It’s a tough time of year to dry out carpets, best done with the windows down which is tough to do outside. If you notice a musty smell in your car or a lot of condensation, consider wet carpeting as a possible culprit.
Never place winter mats on top of existing mats. This can lead to dangerous repositioning under the pedals, causing unintended acceleration or interrupted braking. If you’re in doubt, research what mats best fit your car, or invest in custom ones that are designed for your make and model. These can be pricey, but will last the life of your car.