UPDATE | Local mechanic talks about salt brine and what it could do to your car

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NBC 26 News At 7 O'Clock | Friday, Jan. 6, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Crews with the Georgia Department of Transportation have been prepping Interstates 20 and 520 for weekend travelers since the threat of snow and ice was issued a few days ago. This year, however, they're using something a little different this year to keep roads safe for drivers around the area.

Drivers out on I- 20 are looking to get out ahead of the first snow of the season. Along side them are trucks carrying a new way to keep you safe on the road this weekend - salt brine.

Eddie Butler with Butler Automotive in Augusta has seen his share of damaged and rusted cars caused slick roads and the salt used to keep them from freezing. He says this new spray is a big change from what he's used to seeing.

"Well if you're driving with this, the brine, this solution is a friend," Butler says. "It certainly makes the roads safer and it's a much better solution than salt which is traditionally used."

But he says there's a catch. He says the salt brine can splash up underneath your car can quickly lead to rust and corrosion any place it touches if left untreated.

"There's been criticisms," Butler says, "because magnesium chloride's can have some affect on the environment but are more corrosive than salt by itself."

It's something drivers in our area aren't used to but is not uncommon for drivers up north or by the beach. The main issue, he says, is the mixture getting into every nook and cranny underneath your car.

"There are still some steel and some metals that are used in cars, which makes a problem," Butler says. "What are the places that you would normally be concerned about corrosion on the car? The frame, the wheels, there are a lot of components."

Luckily, he says the worst of it can simply be washed away after you get home.

"It can be prevented," Butler says. "I mean, at the end of the day, as a driver and someone who maybe using the roads, it does make the roads safer for those people using them. So it's a give and take scenario."

Butler says a simple spray will get most of the brine off the car, but it might take a full car wash to get everything out.

Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017

(WRDW/WAGT) – State agencies will begin preparing major roadways and highways for the chance of winter weather as it moves closer to our area. How do they do this? They pre-treat the roads using salt and brine to prevent roadways from freezing.

Brine is a mixture of salt and water.

You might think that’s good to limit the hazards of winter driving, however the salt can cause major damage to your vehicle including but not limited to rust and corrosion.

It is nearly impossible to keep salt off your vehicle. According to DMV.org, a vehicle’s undercarriage is completely exposed and is the area most at risk from deterioration from road salt.

So why is it used? Salt lowers water’s freezing point, causing any ice already formed to melt even though the air temperature remains well below freezing. This same chemical reaction between ice and salt is a similar process to creating ice cream.

Salt, sometimes combined with sand, is frequently spread over roads before or after a snow or ice storm. The sand helps keep the salt in place, and also adds a bit of traction to wet and slushy roadways.

Parts of your car, however, at risk from rust and corrosion from salt include:
- Exhaust system
- Muffler
- Coil springs
- Subframe
- Hydraulic break system
- Paint on doors, bumpers, and fenders

DMV.org says that rust on essential parts, from the axel to the brake system, can be very dangerous.

So how do you prevent it? DMV.org recommends waxing your car before winter weather should strike. You should also avoid puddles and plow trucks. Puddles hold larger amounts of salt, and driving behind the plow means you will be the first to drive through a fresh layer of salt.

You can pretreat your vehicle’s undercarriage as well. Collision shops offer an oil solution pre-treatment that can be sprayed on your vehicle’s exposed parts. This coating will help prevent salt and water from the road sticking to metal parts of your vehicle.

DMV.org recommends washing your car after a snow storm as quickly as possible, and make sure you go through a drive-through car wash that has undercarriage clean.

All vehicles should be inspected before winter anyways. DMV.org says the quick trip to your mechanic is a great way to go into winter with a safe and fully-functional vehicle. Any indicator of wear and tear should be addressed before the temperatures drop.