States that salt roads. Cars still rust as fast?

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May 29, 2005
Ozark Mountains
We were looking for a used pickup on line and my son found this article on "salt states". I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and back in the 60's cars and especially pickups would start to rust through the body after about five years. They use hardly any salt where I live now . So will veichles still rust out as fast now as they used to?
In areas where they don't salt the road cars will last far longer. In California they stopped the practice in about 1975 in the places where I do winter driving (Eastern Sierra and Southern California). In Nevada I will see a lot of snow and ice but I think salt is hardly ever used in the places where I go. I think on Hwy. 80 east of Sacramento they still use salt, and in the far north of the state. I have never had rust on any car I've used since 1978. In most places in California they will not use salt at all and will make you apply chains instead, or use snow tires, if the conditions call for it. They stopped salting as roadside pine trees were dying off due to salt use. When I was a kid I back in the 1960's they salted the roads in the San Bernardino Mountains. A lot of my Dad's friends skied in places like Snow Valley, and the salt they used back then ate cars alive.
I hate salt!,around here one little snow flake and there dumping a whole load on it!,it's terrible wish they would find some other alternative to snow/ice control that's cost effective.
Yeah, cars rust out quickly by me. I'm trying to keep ahead of it on ours. Agreed that they spread a lot out for a little flurry. I wish we'd move away from corrosive ice melters. Requiring snow tires in the winter like Quebec does might be an okay alternative. Any Canadians to report how drivers in Quebec are coping with that requirement?
Here in northern NJ they dump salt on the roads at the first sign of snow. Though I believe that corrosion protection is better now a days I still stay on top of limiting the rust. My 10 year old 2002 F-150 is in better shape than my 1989 F-150 at the same age. With the 1989 F-150 I didn't do anything to stop the rust and it showed. Whimsey
Here in Mn we use a fair amount of salt on our roads. I have an almost 10 year old corolla that has only one small spot of surface rust where the paint was chipped. I only wax the car once a year and only occasionally wash it. I think cars have improved the way they protect the cars against rust.
I would say "no", cars certainly don't rust out as fast as they used to. Not even close. I have a good perspective on this. I live in Idaho about an hour north of Utah. I used to live in Utah. In Utah they salt the roads and in Idaho they do not. In Idaho, we get little gravel put on the roads. We get more damage from the gravel than we used to get from the salt. And now, the salt doesn't damage the car nearly as much as it used to. I still go to Utah frequently. In fact, I'm writing this from my in-laws in eastern Utah. But I'm here to tell ya, cars do not rust out like they used to! Meanwhile, if you want safe driving conditions, salt is BY FAR the best solution. I'd much rather deal with the salt and drive on a dry road as opposed to meeting an early death on an ice covered road.
I live in Sun Shine State (Florida) so i don't have to deal with snow and salt but i was in Canada, a dedicated set of rims with snow tires for the winter months sound good to me. They should be sold with the car. Lol. You buy another car and it comes with it's own set of snow tires. Haha. That would be awesome.
Originally Posted By: Artem
They should be sold with the car. Lol. You buy another car and it comes with it's own set of snow tires. Haha. That would be awesome.
Seriously, that would be a great check-box item when you buy a car. I think that would expose the manufacturer to liability, so that's probably why they don't do it.
I'd say a body would rust out in 15~20 years on average. It will almost certainly start at the wheel wells. Certainly I would prefer a car from a unsalted area, but 5 years... no.
Cars in general do not rust as fast as they used to, but it is still a major concern here in the Northeast. It's why Craigs List is full of used cars touted as being "Southern car." I think they've done a better job on the body in particular, but look underneath any older Northeast car and there will be lots of rust apparent. It makes removing stuff difficult on older cars. I have had older cars that spent most of their life in the south away from road salt and the difference is dramatic.
Not as fast as they used to, but there is still an effect. My '99 Malibu's body panels were rust-free when I traded it in in 2010, I didn't even have the rot around the filler door like I see in a lot of cars, but the brake lines and underbody definitely showed signs of rust.
There is no difference in the steel used in cars today and in the 60s. If it's an uncoated or lightly coated bolt, leaf or coil spring, shock, mount, etc., it's going to get rusty. Even aluminum will be hit with corrosion. Body panels are coated-painted better than the 60s, but they are thinner, so when corrosion hits, you are done in no time. Frames and structural members are better coated than in the past, but not enough to survive a heavy salt bath. Exhaust systems are now aluminized and have some SS parts to comply with the emissions warranty, so this is far better than the 60s exhaust systems. Generally I would say overall cars and trucks are much better, but will still fail miserably given enough exposure.
Originally Posted By: opus1
Not as fast as they used to, but there is still an effect. My '99 Malibu's body panels were rust-free when I traded it in in 2010, I didn't even have the rot around the filler door like I see in a lot of cars, but the brake lines and underbody definitely showed signs of rust.
The body panels don't seem to rust as fast but the underside frame and parts do still rust rapidly. I've had to replace my brake lines, they failed, not fun!. The frame and all steel/iron parts rust severely if not attended to regularly. Whimsey
Wow! Mass uses a lot of salt. Our vehicles have faired pretty well though. My '03 F150 still looks great and my wife's '04 Maxx only has surface rust on unpainted chasis components. The exhaust systems are getting there though. My daughter's '89 Cherokee still looks very good as well. I usually wash the cars once in a while during the winter and they all get washed in Spring (engine compartments get cleaned too). I lube hinges and hood latches as well. I have friends who don't however, and their couple of year old vehicles show it!
Here at first sights of snow they "draw lines on the roads". Spray some pinkish chemical that stays on the roads and not blown away by the wind and cars. Then when snow starts, trucks will dump salt if some serious snow is on the way.
Interestingly enough, my wife crashed our 2 year old Ford Exploder. When I was repairing it, I noticed rust in the weld seams on the sheet metal, under the fenders. You would never normally see this rust, but it's there in many cars. Salted areas must be worse. But if my example is any indication, by the time the cancer becomes visible to the average owner, the vehicle is infested. Oh, and it bothered me so much, I unloaded the Exploder and purchased a new F150. Then I applied much corrosion inhibiting compounds on similar seams.
Sand scrapes away the paint, salt attacks the metal. Rust creeps up the fender. Used to be max on a car up here was about 10 years 100k, mostly because of rust (even in the days of rust proofing). Lots of junkyard cars running great. Would appear the use of galvanized steel has extended life substantially. On both Toyota's the first rust appeared at approx 10 years. Very slow progression, estimate body on both cars will pass inspection another 6-7 years. At that point the cars will be close to 300k, so the car will be basically junk in all areas. Most don't do this but to slow things down I bury from the frame rail out in whatever is available. Right now its "flex seal", tomorrow something else.
I remember as a child in the 1970's, cars being rusted to the point of no return in a matter of a few years. Things have definitely gotten better in terms of body rust, but today's brakes and associated hardware seem to fare worse than years ago. Joel
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