Salt on the roads and the effect it has on cars - – Rockford’s News Leader

Salt on the roads and the effect it has on cars


With winter setting in and those cold, snow filled, icy days becoming more frequent, that means more salt on the roads.

"Salts our best option because of it's melting ability, and it's ability to prevent ice from reforming on the surfaces." said Mitch Leatherby, the Street Transportation Superintendent for the City of Rockford.

But all that salt can mean bad news for cars.

"Rusted break lines, gas lines, bottoms of doors rusted." said Kevin Riggins, the owner of Auto Beautifiers. 

This time of year, Auto Beautifiers in Rockford says service calls increase by about five to ten percent, when cars come in with salt covered under carriages. 

"It's all acidic, just like the calcium chloride and all the rest of the stuff or whatever, it causes corrosion." said Riggins.

While there are alternatives to salt that may be better for the roads and cars, the city says with this type of climate, those aren't an option.

"We've talked about sand, we've talked about cinder, those don't have any melting properties. Those are for traction only." said Leatherby.

On top of that, regulations prevent Winnebago County from even trying those alternatives. 

"There are some areas around here that do use it, but we can't use it because of our EPA storm water permit. We aren't allowed to use it." said Leatherby. 

That's because the sediment on the roads can get into our water ways, and cause erosion in the rivers. 

"Once that sediment gets into the storm system, it's hard to extract." said Leatherby.

Instead, the city uses a mix of salt, beet juice and calcium chloride. Leatherby says the formula is actually 80 percent less corrosive than past blends that have been used. 

But, Riggins says that liquid brine isn't any better for cars.

"It's a liquid so it stays, it sticks to the bottom of the car. It's not like a big piece of rock. It gets into more creases, crevices, cracks." said Riggins.

So what can you do to keep your car safe?

"The best thing is to keep it clean." said Riggins.

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