Why to protect car against the onslaught of salt


Salt attacks both the exterior and the interior of your vehicle and causes so much damage that we need to take a closer look at what you can do to fight back.

Several states use calcium and magnesium chloride, liquid sodium, and rock salt to keep roads clear of snow and ice in the winter to provide open roads and safe travel conditions. Although these chemicals do a great job of de-icing the roadways and keeping us safe, they take a big toll on your car. It is one of your car’s worst enemies because its effects are devastating over time. So what can you do to slow the effects of oxidation (rust) of your vehicle caused by salt and other road clearing chemicals?

Wash your vehicle: Make sure you have your car thoroughly washed every week during the high salt-use season. Some of you choose the cheapest automated car wash cycle, which often doesn’t include the undercarriage. Trying to save a buck will cost you a lot more in the long run. Include the undercarriage, because salt finds its way up into the cracks and crevasses of the car’s underside, including the body seams, box areas of the frame, and the suspension components. If salt gets into the wiring via cracked insulation or a bad electrical plug, corrosion occurs. The rust inhibits electrical flow and causes malfunction of a component or circuit.

Remember, dried salt lies dormant underneath your car until mixed with water, which causes a chemical reaction causing oxidation (rust). Washing your car frequently during high-salt season flushes the salt from the hidden and exposed surfaces. Finally, wash the undercarriage weekly to prevent the negative effects of salt corrosion on the electrical wiring and connections of your vehicle.

Rust protection: If you intend to keep the car for a significant length of time (four years or more) have rust protection applied by a rust protection specialist. And I don’t mean just undercoating or oil spraying. Let’s take a closer look at these two methods:

  1. Undercoating seals up whatever rust has started and creates a waterproof underbelly where water and rust get trapped and continue to eat away at your car.
  2. Oil spraying creates a potential fire hazard if the oil is ignited by hot exhaust; oil can also cause rubber component damage. Also, with the first good blast of winter weather most of the oil gets washed off (along with any rust protection the oil might have offered). It’s quite ineffective, to say the least.

Magic electrical boxes: You can forget about the magic electrical boxes that supposedly set up an electrical field to prevent rust. These systems were found to be fraudulent by the U.S. government. Giant electrical systems set up to protect bridges powered by high-energy generators might offer rust protection for bridges, but a little box powered by a 12-volt electrical system exposed to the weather is a waste of your money.

Carwell system: Living in the salt belt (Buffalo, New York) for more than 20 years now, and being in the auto repair industry as I have for the last 37 years, you can’t imagine the myriad of rust protection “systems” and methods I have seen. Little boxes that are connected to 12-volt sources to stop rust, oil spraying, rubberized as well as polyurethane under coatings, anticorrosive foams that are sprayed into vehicle’s body panels, and on and on it goes, yet cars still rust out at an amazing rate in Salt Belt Land.

A few years back I was contacted by the CEO of a rust protection company called Carwell. He claimed that he had the best rust protection on the planet. I yawned and said, “Show me the facts to substantiate your claims.” He invited me to his office. When I arrived, he dropped on the desk in front of me a 5-inch-thick dossier with the U.S. armed forces logos on it. As I thumbed through this couple of thousand-paged document I realized that it was in-depth testing of this Carwell rust-protection product. The findings were incredible. It was tested in the salt belt states during wintertime and on the beaches of Florida, Washington, California, and Hawaii.

The bottom line: Carwell protects against rust better than any other rust-protection product or system out there. The armed forces had named this product the exclusive rust-protection product for all four branches of the U.S. armed forces.

After using it myself for several years I can honestly tell you it does work, and so I am telling you about it here in the pages of my book. Carwell is a formula designed specifically for its intended use: rust protection on vehicles. During a typical Carwell application, the specialist applies Carwell rust protection to the inside of the body panels and hard-to-get-at frame areas. The whole operation is similar to what happens when insulation is blown into the walls of your home, only in this case it’s blown into the inside panels of your vehicle.

This chemical formulation attacks existing rust, flakes it away from the bare metal beneath, and chemically bonds to the bare metal. It also absorbs any moisture present and bleeds it to the surface, sets up a moisture barrier, and finally, it creeps to fill every crack and crevice in the metal.

That’s total protection! Another great benefit of Carwell is that it insulates electrical wiring harnesses and connections, allowing only 1/100th of a volt drop across connections. This is a great electrical system protector, especially when you consider the impact of salt corrosion on electrical connections and contacts. Carwell is one of the best rust protection systems on the market. Use it as a measuring stick when buying rust protection products. Find out more online at: www.carwell.com.

It’s important to note that even if your car is rust protected, if you live in a salt belt you should still wash your vehicle at least once every week during high salt-use periods. And remember, what counts the most is washing the underside, especially under fender wells and other enclosed areas such as doors. Paint doesn’t rust, the metal behind it does.

Keep out of heated garages: A study done in 1992 at Cornell University shows that most rust action is the result of road salt, and it is 20 to 30 times greater in spring than in winter. The reason? Rising temperatures, which trigger oxidation.

Cornell researchers warn to keep your car out of heated garages during the winter because heat increases salt corrosion. The Cornell team found that recycled water used by some commercial car washes often contains significant amounts of road salt from previous car washings. So if you use a commercial car wash, ask if they use recycled water. If they do, find another car wash.

Keep on top of rust: If you live in a salt belt state and intend to keep your vehicle a long time, have the body inspected regularly for rust. When a rust spot crops up, have it tended to immediately. This may require bodywork (cutting the rusty metal out and welding new metal in place), rust proofing, priming, and painting.

If you leave the rust alone, it will set up, creep underneath the paint, and “eat” the structural integrity of the metal body. When adding a new body part to the vehicle make sure to rust proof that part before installing it.


  • Wash your car (undercarriage included) weekly during high-salt use.
  • Wax semi-annually. Apply a carnauba-based wax. Apply by hand in a swirl pattern, let dry, then buff clean. If using an electric applicator, be careful. Too fast with too much downward pressure will burn through the paint.
  • If you are going to keep your car for a few years and you live in a salt belt, have professional rust proofing done on the car.
  • During the salt-use season, do not park your car in a heated garage because heat triggers salt corrosion.
  • Inspect for rust annually and repair as necessary; don’t leave bare metal to fester into a rust spot and grow.
  • When adding new parts to your vehicle such as a fender or door, make sure they’re rust proofed before installing.

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