3 Things Anybody in Professional Automotive Detailing Should Know About Road Salt

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In cold climates with heavy snow and ice, road salt is an important part of keeping motorists safe during the winter driving season. Road salt is essentially the same as table salt but much coarser. Distributed on icy or snow-covered roads by specialized vehicles, and often mixed with sand, it works by lowering the freezing point of the ice on the road, melting it and preventing new ice from forming.

Salting roads greatly reduces accidents and injuries in the winter. Unfortunately, this salt also causes a number of other reactions. Most notably, salt and salt water can cause corrosion, and greatly accelerate the rusting process, causing lasting and sometimes serious damage to vehicles.

Professionals working in automotive detailing may not be able to fix that damage after it’s been done, but they can play an important role in helping their customers avoid it before it’s too late. For anyone considering a career in automotive detailing, here are three important things to know about road salt.

1. Wax and Sealants Can Protect Vehicles from the Effects of Road Salt

One of the best things drivers can do to protect their vehicles from the corrosive effects of road salt is to protect them with a wax or sealant.

For best results, wax or sealant should be applied before the first snow falls and before the streets have been salted, and right after the vehicle has been thoroughly washed. Otherwise, you might risk trapping moisture, dirt, or salt underneath the sealant, which can potentially damage the finish.

The underside of a vehicle should be coated with sealant as well. Brake and fuel lines, in particular, can be susceptible to corrosion and rust, which can cause serious accidents if neglected for too long, so particular care should be taken in sealing these parts of the vehicle.

Applying wax or sealant to a car before the roads have been salted can help protect its finish
Applying wax or sealant to a car before the roads have been salted can help protect its finish

2. Specialists in Professional Automotive Detailing Suggest Regular Winter Washes

Regular washing is another effective way of combating the rust and corrosion that can result from exposure to road salt. By washing the salt off of a vehicle regularly, both on the body and underneath, you can stop the process of rusting before it begins.

Experts in professional automotive detailing recommend sticking to hand washes, however, as automatic car washes sometimes use harsh chemicals that can damage the coating on the car, making it more susceptible to future salt damage. They can also cause residue to build up in the cracks and crevices of the undercarriage, rather than properly cleaning the exposed parts beneath.

Hand washes are best, ideally using the two bucket method: one for soapy water, and another to rinse off the grime, salt, and other contaminants from your cleaning mitt or sponge as you wash.

3. Rubber Mats Can Protect the Interior of a Vehicle from Salt Stains

Road salt can damage not only the exterior of a vehicle, but the interior as well, as salt can be tracked inside by boots and shoes, causing salt stains. These stains are likely familiar to anyone already working in an auto detailing career, and while they can usually be cleaned with the right solutions and tools, drivers can also take preventative measures by putting in rubber floor mats in the winter, which can be easily removed, rinsed, and dried to prevent the accumulation of salt inside.

Rubber mats can help protect the interior of a car from salt stains
Rubber mats can help protect the interior of a car from salt stains

Are you interested in a career in auto detailing?

Contact Automotive Training Centres to sign up for an auto detailing course in Toronto.

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