How To Mitigate Some Of The Damage To Your Vehicle From Road Salt

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Road salt makes winter roads passable for vehicles and their owners, but an accumulation of excess road salt can be corrosive and cause damage to your vehicle. However, there are a few simple things you can do to minimize the damage. 

Where should you look for road salt accumulation on your vehicle?

Your air filters

Your vehicles has two air filters for two distinct purposes. The engine air filters cleans the air that your engine needs for optimal gas consumption and performance, while your cabin air filter cleans the air that you breathe through the vents in your dash.

Road salt dust can accumulate over multiple snow and icing events and clog your air filters, inhibiting your engine's efficiency and compromising that air that you breathe.

Replacing the engine air filter

Your engine air filter is easiest to replace, because it is usually more accessible. If you decide to do it yourself, you must buy filters that are compatible with the year, manufacturer, and model of your vehicle.

The engine air filter is located in a small rectangular compartment next to your engine. It will have two metal clips on the sides that hold the top in place. 

To replace the filter, simply pull the clips away from the compartment, lift off the top,  replace the old filter with a new one, and reattach the top of the filter compartment.

Replacing the cabin air filter

Replacing the cabin air filter is a little more difficult, since it is likely to be located behind the dash. However, it can usually be accessed by removing the glove box.

This can be done by emptying the glove box and opening it fully, exposing the side arm which rests on a hinge pin. Pull the side arm away from the hinge pin ( the glove box will fall, so hold it simultaneously), then lifting the glove box out of the opening in the dash.

You may need some contortionist skills to peer inside the opening to find the cabin air filter compartment. You will see a small rectangular plate held in place with metal clips. Remove the clips and the plate, slide out the old filter and insert the new filter, and reverse the process until your filter compartment and glove box are intact.

You may choose to get the cabin air filter replaced at an automotive repair facility, especially if your cabin filter is located in another more inaccessible area, and you are not an amateur contortionist.

Your battery

Check your battery terminals and cables for signs of salt buildup and corrosion. You can remove the cables by loosening the clamps with a small wrench, then clean the terminals and the inside areas of the clamps with fine sandpaper. 

Windshield wiper blades

It's a good idea to replace your wiper blades after severe winter weather. Ice, heavy snow, and road salt can make your wipers less effective, and can even cause the rubber inserts to shred or fall out completely.

If your wipers leave streaks or drag themselves across the windshield, they need to be replaced, whether winter has passed or not. When buying new wipers, remember that the wipers may be different lengths for the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle.

You must also remember to keep your windshield washer reservoir filled, especially as snow melts and salt is repeatedly sprayed onto your windshield.

You don't want to be driving in blinding winter sunlight with your windshield covered with salt, turn on the windshield washer, and find that you've run out of windshield washer fluid.

You should also wash your vehicle regularly in the winter. It may seem to be an exercise in futility, because your vehicle will still be sprayed with salt from other vehicles.on roads that are wet from melting snow. However, preventing salt accumulation can help to protect the body paint and undercarriage of your vehicle from the corrosive properties of road salt.