Protecting Cars from Harmful Brine

Protecting Cars from Harmful Brine

The state says salt brine is no more corrosive than regular salt, but auto body shop owners disagree.
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - With blue skies and mild temperatures, the car wash was the place to be Thursday morning.

"It's definitely a weather business. It's been fairly steady," said Champ Car Wash General Manager Randy Pare.

All winter drivers have been battling snow, ice, and salt brine. Brine is mixture of salt and water.

It's not only unsightly, but also potentially harmful.

"Rust is a serious issue on cars in Vermont," Bill Hanf, owner of Runway Auto in South Burlington says.

He says salt damage has become more common since the state switched to brine a few years ago.

"Cars, rather than lasting eight or nine years, they're lasting half that now," he said.

VTRANS insists that the salt brine solution used on Vermont roadways is no more corrosive than previous salt treatments, however, auto body shop owners say that might be a little misleading because the salt brine actually gets into more crevices within the car.

"It's just like somebody has a squirt gun with acid in it and they're squirting it into the cavities of the car,” Hanf says.

To protect against rust damage, Champ Car Wash recommends washing your vehicle, and the undercarriage, once a week when temperatures are over ten degrees.

"You know the salt's still going to be on the roads and everything, but at least if they're coming in at least once a week the high pressure and being touchless and everything is going to wash all the creases and crevices,” Pare says.

Rust can spread quickly, and should be repaired ASAP according to Hanf.

"It gets close to where the suspention members come together, and if those members rust out the car is not safe at all,” he says.

Most auto body shops say they see most rust repairs in the spring. The problem is most common in older cars. Newer models have tighter seals that help keep the brine out.
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