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How damaging is salt, really?

Salt is one of those elements that can corrode metal if given the chance. That corrosion can lead to a lot of problems, both cosmetic and mechanical. While salt doesn't necessarily eat through paint, it can scratch it and chip away at it, leaving the metal beneath vulnerable to rust. Rust doesn't improve with time; it's like a dental cavity. It starts off small at first, maybe it's even unnoticeable.  It will start to chip and flake. You might think, "Hey, this isn't so bad. I can get by." Except then a small hole might form. If it's not in an obvious area, you might still be inclined to wait to get it fixed. The only problem with that is that rust doesn't fix itself. It doesn't stop corroding either, once it gets going. If you spot rust, you should get it fixed immediately. RVs, boats, and cars are built to keep water out of certain places. If water goes somewhere it's not supposed to, there can be problems. The rust itself--depending on where it is--can also be problematic.

Where does rust like to hide?

Like a dental cavity, rust likes to hide where it's hard to see and hard to reach.  It might form on the underside of your boat, in the door sills of your RV, or on the muffler of your car. Other areas to look out for include:

  • Bumpers
  • Brakes
  • Frame and subframe

Once it takes hold, rust can cause problems like causing hydraulic brake system leaks over time.

Is rust the only danger of salt?

Rust is the main issue that comes from salt in the air, but it's not the only concern. Salt on its own can damage tires on cars and RVs, wearing away the tread. Bald tires can lead to difficulty not only with controlling the vehicle but with stopping it because they cannot get traction on the road. For older cars, boats, and RVs that may not have more advanced protective coatings, salt can also damage the paint. The good news about salt damage is that it's preventable.

How can you prevent salt damage?

There are four things you can do to prevent the damage we discussed above:

  • Keep your car, boat, or RV clean.
  • Wax pre-season.
  • Check for and repair damaged paint.
  • Detail your RV, boat, or car.

By following these four tips, you can prevent expensive salt and subsequent rust damage.

Wax On, Wax Off

Wax acts as a protective coating for your paint job and therefore is one more layer to keep salt damage at bay. There's a difference between a car wash automatically spraying on wax and the wax being hand-applied Karate Kid style. We recommend the latter in early spring, before the summer beach season gets under way, and also in the fall.  Even though we don't really have to worry about road salt around here, there isn't less salt in the air just because you're not at the beach every weekend. If you live close to the water, your vehicles still need protection.

Repair Damaged Paint

Chipping paint is a gateway for salt damage. Check for it a few times a year and repair if necessary. Marine detailing can help keep an eye on the paint coating your boat, RV, or car.

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