Here in Colorado, we get some tough winters. That means that most of our roads are covered in salt from late November to late March. While salt can prevent accidents by making ice less slippery, there’s a bad side to salt too. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that random brake failures on more than two million vehicles weren’t so random after all.
The Salt Problem
The NHTSA has concluded that road salt is to blame for brake failure. This problem is so prevalent that the NHTSA has told Americans to make sure to wash their cars thoroughly throughout the winter months, and during the springtime. It’s not enough to wash the top of your car either. You have to make sure that the water and soap reach the underside of your car in order to get rid of all that winter salt build-up.
The NHTSA did put a date on cars impacted by salt build-up (those that were manufactured in 2008 or earlier), but also warned that an excess of salt can happen to any car. What exactly happens when salt builds up underneath a car? Brake lines begin to rust and corrode, and that means that brakes might not work after a few months of winter driving. For some reason, SUVs are more susceptible to the salt build up, and especially those that are older than 2008 models.
In addition to washing the undercarriage of your car throughout the winter and spring months (or anytime there’s salt on the roads), you should also schedule routine safety inspections. The NHTSA notes that these safety inspections should be scheduled at least twice per year. During a routine inspection, mechanics can determine whether or not a car’s brake lines are starting to rust, and this could save a lot of lives.
Salt can do a lot of damage to other parts of a car too. Last year, Toyota recalled nearly 82,300 Siennas due to salt built up that was causing spare tires to separate from the cars. Further, physical structures around the world, like bridges, can start to erode due to too much salt build up. While salt on the roads is normal to anyone driving in a cold weather climate, it’s also a silent problem. Sure, salt can save lives when it comes to slippery roads, but it can also take lives if it is allowed to accumulate underneath a car.
The Important Points
Make sure that you wash your car’s undercarriage numerous times throughout the winter months if you live in a cold climate like the one in Colorado. Also, make sure to bring your car into your mechanic twice per year for that routine inspection, and make sure that your brake lines are thoroughly inspected to avoid a problem later in the year. At Fort Collins Foreign Car Service, we strive to make sure that your vehicles are safe to drive no matter what the weather outside looks like. We’re more than happy to inspect your car, and to let you know whether or not salt is getting to your brakes or anywhere else on your vehicle.
Now that the weather is nice, make sure to wash you car completely, and contact us to book that inspection. If you’d like more information on this topic, you can visit the NHTSA website to see the statistics on salt damage – but take our word for it, it’s not a good idea to let salt build up on any car! Call us today to book your brake inspection or for any other mechanical reason.