What is Salt Brine and How Can it Damage my Vehicle?

Winter is coming… That sounds familiar, but I’m not sure why… Yes, around the corner, means snow will be falling. The snow brings another hazard to your car in the form of the salt brine that is used to help keep the roads here in Pennsylvania free of ice. This brine can do serious damage to the underside of your car and it is something that the we feel like not enough people know about.

Salty Road Plows ruining salty brine for cars paint

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Rock Salt

When snow and ice are on top of our roads so that it allows us to be clear so we can travel safely. The problem is this road salt mostly isn’t used anymore, now they use a ‘Salt Brine’.

Is Salt Brine Helping or Hurting?

The problem is that both the rock salt and the magnesium chloride are corrosive agents. The brine activates when it comes into contact with moisture and begins to eat away at whatever surface it occupies. This may be fine on a road made of asphalt but on the metal underside of your car it presents serious rust issues. It is hard to get it off of the metal as well. The magnesium chloride starts working at about 20-30% humidity so it gets to work pretty much as soon as the snow starts falling. For the record rock salt needs 70% humidity to become corrosive.

Mechanics all across the snow belt have noticed an uptick in rusting undersides in the past few years and the culprit has been found. Here in Pennsylvania the salt brine was first tested in the more mountainous areas like the Pittsburgh area and it did not take long for mechanics to find accelerated cases of rust. PennDOT has not studied the issue (or at least publicly admitted it) but believes that the salt brine is the safest option available and is sticking with it. AAA has urged motorists to thoroughly wash the underside of their cars following a snow event though it seems that few motorists are aware of the issue. (Source)

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