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Salt Helping Keep Roads Safe, But It Could Be Hurting Your Car

Road Salt

Streets and Sanitation workers prepare to load trucks with road salt as the city braces for another winter storm on February 4, 2014. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – All the salt that has been spread on local roads this winter has been working to keep your drive safer, but it might also be working against your car itself.

WBBM’s Steve Miller reports road salt frequently can cause damage to cars by creating rust.

“It’s kind of like a cancer. Once rust starts, it never stops,” said Frank Guske, who runs Wells Automotive Service in Old Town.

“I have one that we told a customer he shouldn’t fix because the frame rails are rotted clean through. Toyota Forerunner,” he said. “Can’t legally fix it, because the two frame rails in the front are rotted clean through from the salt.”

Guske said he sees a lot of rusted cars, although they are much better rust-proofed than they were even 10 years ago.

And how about waxing your car a lot to try to seal out road salt?

“You might want to wax your car a couple times a year: Once in the spring and once in the fall,” he said.

As for washing your car to get rid of the salt, Guske suggested doing so once a month in winter. He said any more than that would be a waste.

He also said storing your car in a heated garage won’t protect your car from salt or rust, because any snow and ice packed onto a car will melt, which is when the salt really causes the most damage.

“When it melts it gets into the creases and the crevices and the cracks and the folds of the metal. And it moves a lot faster as far as the rust is concerned,” he said. “If it stays outside and it’s cold, the big chunks of ice – the icebergs behind your wheels and up in the fender wells – as long as that’s frozen it’s not causing damage.”