Road salt leaves mark on cars

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana streets may be clearing up, but for many Hoosiers the battle has moved to their now road salt-covered cars.

Road salt is used by public works departments to melt ice and keep roads clear during wintry weather. In the process, though, it sticks to cars, and can cause corrosion and rust if not cleaned off.

Lines at Mike's Car Wash in Indianapolis were backed up Friday as motorists like Denise Ladyga tried to clean off their winter-battered vehicles.

"I just washed it two days ago, and look at it," Ladyga said. "It's already bad with all the salt and all the dirt."

Car wash employees were happily removing filthy film from cars – and warning drivers about the danger to their car's paint and metal if they ignore it.

"Salt does a fantastic job of removing the ice and snow from the roads to make sure the roads are safe to travel on," said Mike's Car Wash manager Geoff Nelson. "Unfortunately, it is very corrosive and it does damage vehicles very quickly."

Nelson said the best way to prevent that damage is to wash the salt off as soon as possible.

"It depends on the vehicle's finish. It depends on the actual vehicle how quickly it can promote rust or promote damage," Nelson said. "The best way to prevent damage is to remove it as quickly as possible."

While all those car washes can add up, motorists aren't the only ones shelling out big bucks to clean up this winter. So far this winter, the state has spent $30 million and used 250,000 tons of salt in cleanup efforts.

INDOT officials said that's almost what they spent and used during all of last winter.

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