What the Salt on the Roads Does to Your Car

Cities across the country use various methods to make roadways safer in the winter in the event of snow and ice. In addition to snow removal using snowplows and other snow removal equipment, a mixture of salt, sand, and brine is often used as a pre-treatment for road surfaces before big storms. 

What is road salt brine?

A salt brine mixture is used to prevent ice from forming on the road. Salt (sodium chloride) actually lowers the freezing point of water, causing snow to melt into slush even if air temperatures are below freezing. Most often used on bridges and inclines, a deicer salt mixture makes roads grippier, easier for tires to maneuver when driving. Salt also deters snow and ice from bonding with the pavement which makes it easier to plow and remove. 

Salt, sand, and brine are typically applied to roadways a few days before the snowstorm in order to give the surface time to absorb the mixture. Anti-icing procedures are most effective when the timing is right!

Minden Snow Removal

While the town of Minden doesn’t see too much snow accumulation in the winter months, the town does have a snow removal system and policy in place. Officials do not plow snow unless more than four inches have accumulated on the valley floor. This is because snow melts faster undisturbed, instead of plowed into berms. When Minden does plow snow, they plow it in the middle of the roads instead of on the curb.

The town of Minden sands its roads to allow for better traction for tires, especially when roads are icy. Sand also prevents new ice from forming on the roads. While the town of Minden does not use a salt brine for precautionary measures on their roads, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) does. So, while drivers in Minden only have to worry about sand’s effect on their vehicles, odds are they are traveling on the Nevada roadways outside of Minden. These trips could include traveling on the 395 and 580 Highways up to Carson City and Reno or over the 50 and 207 on the Kingsbury Grade to Tahoe. In that case, drivers will encounter roads treated with a salt, sand, and brine mixture to prevent dangerous conditions. 

Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) Winter Maintenance

NDOT starts preparing for the winter season in August by making sure snow plows and other equipment are operating properly and ready to go. According to a press release, NDOT prepared nearly 33,000 cubic yards of salt and sand to mix together to spread on winter roads for “increased traction and safety” before the 2021 winter season

According to NDOT District Engineer Mike Fuess, NDOT sprays a liquid brine prior to specific storms. He added, “The brine is a water solution of 23% salt that we produce in-house at a substantial cost savings. Sprayed in certain conditions before storms, the brine helps reduce how quickly the ice forms and sticks to the road.”  

So what is this brine mixture doing to your car?

Salt Damage to Your Vehicle

You can see brine on the road by the gray parallel lines they make when applied, especially before a snowstorm. The brine is applied wet but then dries into lines to make them stay in place better. Brine is great for icy roads, but not so great for your car. 

The mixture that brine is made up of (water solution of 23% salt in Nevada) helps it stay in place on the road but that means that it also stays on the undercarriage of your car. When salt crystals get pushed into the nooks and crannies under your car, the build-up and chemical reaction cause rust to form that eventually corrodes the paint, and metal surfaces of your car. When driving on winter roads it is best to avoid puddles and deep snow so the salt brine doesn’t splash or pack into your car’s wheel wells and behind your fenders!

Evolution Car Wash | Protecting Your Car from Corrosion

Salt brine spread on the roadways before big storms make for safer driving conditions, which is a good thing! On average, there are more than 2,000 weather-related crashes in Nevada every year. And while we can all do our part to drive safely in inclement weather, NDOT maintenance personnel do everything they can to help the roads be a little bit safer, and that means applying brine. 

Winter driving means you will have the brine mixture undercoating of your car. So, wash it off! Frequently washing your car during the winter can help avoid iron and steel corrosion and rusting. Let us help!

Our car wash tunnel at Evolution Car Wash features the most updated car wash technology in the industry. The Fusion Bath products we use are formulated to wash away the grime (and brine!) followed by a variety of sealants that act as another layer of protection. If you opt for the X3 Ceramic Multi-Coat wash, your car will be protected from the elements long after you drive off the lot. Find out more about our solutions here

Check out our Scrubbs Club for monthly membership options. Then you’ll never question whether or not it’s time for a car wash! Choose between our Top Dog package and the Super Scrubb

Drive safely and let it snow!