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Old 02-26-2023, 04:56 AM   #1
Jon Bailey
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Who lives in a salted-road/rust-belt state?

What do you do to your automobile to protect from salt/rust damage?

Is taking the car to a carwash with underbody cleaning once in a while during the winter salt seasons a good method? Are any underbody coatings worth it?

I have a rust-free 1995 Toyota Corolla DX sedan that has never been driven in a salted-road state. I will be moving to Sioux Falls, South Dakota this year. It is disheartening to see pictures of used Toyotas for sale from 2003 on up in this city with visible rust around the fenders. Even with this rust damage evident, dealers still have the nerve to ask $5K to $10K for these rust buckets. Because of the salt situation, I'm gun shy about buying any used vehicle in a "rust belt" state.

It seems like winter Dakota roads might be tough on automobile bodies, underbodies and paint.
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Old 02-26-2023, 01:06 PM   #2
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Re: Who lives in a salted-road/rust-belt state?

Washes can help as long as your don't drive though anything on the way back from the car wash. Coatings are critical, but won't solve everything.

Mrs. Bowtie has been daily driving a 2000 Astro AWD up to 320K+ miles through every ton of salt that the highway departments spread for almost 23 years. There is no body rust, no frame channel corrosion, and very little related problems. I've lost a few brake and fuel lines to corrosion, a few sets of stabilizer links, and some of the fasteners are showing stress. When the truck was new, the underside was cleaned, dried, and hand painted with enamel primer and a semi-gloss topcoat, including the axles, spring mounts, and anything that was not plated, painted or otherwise coated. It also gets parked in a heated garage daily. Drying out seems to have helped immensely since dry salt residue is exponentially less corrosive compared to a salt solution or vapor.

I also have an '86 Trans Am parked indoors, two Impala SS examples ('94 & '96), and a '48 John Deere M along with the mowers, snowblower, etc. As you might have guessed, no rust on any of them, and the '94 SS has been winter driven at times. My S10 half-truck gets parked outdoors, and it's a completely different story.

The cost of additional energy to heat the space to above freezing may seem frivolous, but it has saved a lot of repairs, replacements, and frustration. That Astro likely would have been replaced twice in that time span, probably at a cost of around $60K. Even it I had "stretched" the possibly rotting vehicle out to ten years, that should have been $30K to replace it once. I'm confident that I have not spent $3,000.00 a year to heat the garage. My gas bill is not that high for the entire residence. In addition to that calculation, all those "new" vehicles would have burned the same amount of fuel, used the same amount of oils, greases, tires, filters, brake linings, belts, lamps, etc. while being driven, essentially making the cost of use and maintenance the same.

In 39 years I've lived at two residences with heated garages, one detached and the current one attached. Maintaining some heat in the attached garage also reduces heat loss on the common wall, reducing the heating requirement for the house. 50°F makes a huge difference compared to -10°.
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Old 02-26-2023, 05:56 PM   #3
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Re: Who lives in a salted-road/rust-belt state?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Bowtie View Post
Washes can help as long as your don't drive though anything on the way back from the car wash. Coatings are critical, but won't solve everything.

Mrs. Bowtie has been daily driving a 2000 Astro AWD up to 320K+ miles through every ton of salt that the highway departments spread for almost 23 years. There is no body rust, no frame channel corrosion, and very little related problems. I've lost a few brake and fuel lines to corrosion, a few sets of stabilizer links, and some of the fasteners are showing stress. When the truck was new, the underside was cleaned, dried, and hand painted with enamel primer and a semi-gloss topcoat, including the axles, spring mounts, and anything that was not plated, painted or otherwise coated. It also gets parked in a heated garage daily. Drying out seems to have helped immensely since dry salt residue is exponentially less corrosive compared to a salt solution or vapor.

I also have an '86 Trans Am parked indoors, two Impala SS examples ('94 & '96), and a '48 John Deere M along with the mowers, snowblower, etc. As you might have guessed, no rust on any of them, and the '94 SS has been winter driven at times. My S10 half-truck gets parked outdoors, and it's a completely different story.

The cost of additional energy to heat the space to above freezing may seem frivolous, but it has saved a lot of repairs, replacements, and frustration. That Astro likely would have been replaced twice in that time span, probably at a cost of around $60K. Even it I had "stretched" the possibly rotting vehicle out to ten years, that should have been $30K to replace it once. I'm confident that I have not spent $3,000.00 a year to heat the garage. My gas bill is not that high for the entire residence. In addition to that calculation, all those "new" vehicles would have burned the same amount of fuel, used the same amount of oils, greases, tires, filters, brake linings, belts, lamps, etc. while being driven, essentially making the cost of use and maintenance the same.

In 39 years I've lived at two residences with heated garages, one detached and the current one attached. Maintaining some heat in the attached garage also reduces heat loss on the common wall, reducing the heating requirement for the house. 50°F makes a huge difference compared to -10°.
I plan on living in an apartment where hand-washing will not be an option for me. I will have to use the best commercial car washes in town with underbody cleaning service.

Should I invest in an anti-rust treatment like this in South Dakota?

https://dakotarustproofing.com/

According to the link above:

It’s never “too late” to have your vehicle protected. Dakota Rustproofing can help stop existing rust on contact. Save costly repairs on brake lines, rocker panels, springs, and rusting frames with our Woolwax® undercarriage coating.

Not JUST for winter protection! Salts and fertilizer residue WILL stick in all those hidden areas on your car or truck ALL YEAR LONG.

Summer rains will re-activate those chemicals and really corrode during the summer months.

Get year-round protection from “Those rust stop guys!”.


It's a shame automobile manufacturers can't put top-notch anti-rust measures on their cars. Chrysler used to boast on TV a lot in the 1980's about their long anti-rust warrantees. Seeing a bunch of pictures with used Toyotas in South Dakota with brown rusty fenders makes me puke. I'm on a limited budget and don't have a ton of money to be dumping into vehicle care. In the Army I was in snowy Germany from 1993 - 1995. They do not put salt on roads there for environmental reasons, runoff kills vegetation, plus it saves the metal and paint on cars that way too. If I had my way, salt would be prohibited by federal law on American roads.

This video from Chicago on Woolwax:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yUtZ6GgotY&t=315s
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Old 02-27-2023, 10:46 AM   #4
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Re: Who lives in a salted-road/rust-belt state?

Put down the howitzer, and pick up an aluminum bat (softball is big in Sioux Falls, or at least used to be).

Consider storage/parking the car you want to keep and suspending the insurance (except for comp coverage) and shop for a winter vehicle (beater with a heater).
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Old 03-01-2023, 03:10 PM   #5
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Re: Who lives in a salted-road/rust-belt state?

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Put down the howitzer, and pick up an aluminum bat (softball is big in Sioux Falls, or at least used to be).

Consider storage/parking the car you want to keep and suspending the insurance (except for comp coverage) and shop for a winter vehicle (beater with a heater).
The only car I have now is my trusty 1995 Corolla DX and she is still needed come shine, rain, snow, ice, hell or high water. This daily-driver econo classic of mine is still rust-free and I intend to try to still keep her that way. She has survived the droughts Folsom, California, the scorching deserts of summertime Nevada while driving through, a few snowy winters of Boise, Idaho and the blustery, humid, hail-stone thunderstorm weather of Tornado Alley Oklahoma. Not a spec of rust anywhere. She has been parked outside mostly since I got her from an old man in 2013. I have lived in apartments with no shelter for cars at all. I live on a limited VA disability income too. Living in South Dakota means I will have to spend some more money for my car (and my own body) dealing with its nasty winters. But there are cheap income-based newer-construction apartments there. The landlords will have to deal with clearing snow.
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Old 03-02-2023, 11:33 AM   #6
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Re: Who lives in a salted-road/rust-belt state?

In that case, washing, oil treatments, and monitoring/repairing rust are possibly your best bet.
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Old 03-02-2023, 03:10 PM   #7
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Re: Who lives in a salted-road/rust-belt state?

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In that case, washing, oil treatments, and monitoring/repairing rust are possibly your best bet.
You don't recommend the Woolwax package for my car?
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Old 03-02-2023, 10:34 PM   #8
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Re: Who lives in a salted-road/rust-belt state?

I have no experience with that, but it seems that anything that will hold moisture IN is also a bad idea. I know from experience that powder coat and POR epoxy will look pretty on the outside, but hold water (saltwater) in and make a frame go away very fast. If that wax coating is applied over very clean surfaces and seals well, it might work. I know that cleaning/drying/enamel painting has worked very well for me.
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Old 10-08-2023, 12:06 PM   #9
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Re: Who lives in a salted-road/rust-belt state?

In summary, diligent maintenance, including careful cleaning and coating of the vehicle's underside, along with parking in a heated garage, has proven highly effective in preventing corrosion, even in the face of harsh winter conditions and salt-covered roads. The cost of heating the garage has been a worthwhile investment, saving significant money in vehicle repairs and replacements over the years.

Last edited by lylawa; 10-19-2023 at 03:12 AM.
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