Which Is Worse for Your Car: Rock Salt or Brine on Roadways?

Anyone who drives a car in Central New York knows that winter is a car killer. If you’re not sliding or slipping, corrosion is having its way with your vehicle.

With many municipalities switching from sand and rock salt to brine, or a brine combination, you may have experienced corrosion that seems worse than in previous years. You’re not imagining things.

Brine may be more effective and cost less for your town, but it’s much worse for your vehicle. First, brine is able to penetrate into the nooks and crannies of your vehicle’s undercarriage – places rock salt wouldn’t generally reach. Second, and we’ll have to reach back to high school chemistry for this, is that brine forms an acid when humidity reaches 20-30 percent.

In most states, brine is a mix of sodium chloride and magnesium chloride dissolved in water. “That’s a very important point, because magnesium chloride is much more corrosive than sodium chloride, the rock salt,” said Bob Baboian, an auto industry consultant and a fellow at the National Association of Corrosion Engineers, in comments to the Washington Post.

When that magnesium salt is dissolved by the humidity in the air, it creates an acid. That acid eats your car. Once the temperatures are above the teens, there is likely enough humidity in the air to create that acid. That’s especially true in your garage.

What can you do to help protect your vehicle?

  • Invest in an undercoating for your vehicle. It will help protect your investment from the corrosive properties of salt and brine.
  • Wash your car regularly – and always include the undercarriage wash, especially if you know you’ve been driving on brined roadways.
  • It sounds crazy, but if you can’t rinse your car, keep it out of the garage, and in the cold, until you can.

Find More Driving Tips at Rich Nimey’s New Generation Cars

We hope these tips have been helpful and informative. If you’re looking for any more assistance on the road, check out our blog for more tips and tricks. For those looking for a great used vehicle or any car service, stop in to Rich Nimey’s New Generation Cars for help. You can contact us by phone or in person. Our sales team is happy and ready to help you with all of your automotive needs!