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Maintaining Your Heavy Truck Against Salt Corrosion

When ice and snow are in the forecast, you can bet that salt will be on the road. Salt is used because of one quality that we all appreciate; a chemical reaction that lowers the freezing point of water, thereby melting ice and helping to ensure safe travels. There is another aspect of salt's behavior that is more sinister; the fact that it causes corrosion on the hidden areas of your truck.

Salt corrosion can cause serious structural damage over time if given the chance. Driving at high speeds on wet winter roads throws a salty spray into every nook and cranny of the semi's underbelly, and if preventative measures were not taken or if the salt is not removed, you are looking at a potential problem; but the problem is unnecessary.

While frequently washing underneath your vehicle helps to remove salt, you may find it even more effective to get ahead of the game and coat the steel with a corrosion-protection agent such as Rust-Oleum. Another inexpensive way to protect the metal is to spray it with used motor oil, or a mixture of used motor oil and diesel. You can either go to a maintenance garage to have this done, or you can do it yourself if the resources are available to you. Ideally the truck should be power washed first to remove any dirt, grime, and possible salt on the underbody. Then when the metal has had time to dry, slide underneath on a creeper, use a small spray-jug and apply an even layer wherever you can reach. Be sure to wear clothes you don't care about and be prepared to take a shower afterwards!

Once a year or so, it is recommend to wash and reapply fresh oil to prevent dirt and grime from hardening in your coat of oil. Failure to do this can make it difficult to perform other maintenance services if a thick hard layer accumulates. If your regular route takes you down gravel or dirt roads on a regular basis and dust has the potential of caking on in a short period of time, a less sticky method may be best for you, such as a sealer that will dry after application.

Regular washing is still important to ensure protection from salt damage on the external body of your truck, but proper care of the hidden areas underneath will extend the overall well-being and function significantly.