How Long Does It Take for a Car to Rust from Salt?

How long does it take for a car to rust from salt? Road salt is a mixture of sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and sometimes potassium chloride, with an inert filler material to help deliver the salt to the road. It is usually very effective at melting snow and ice and very lightweight.

The main problem with salty spray is that it attaches to your car, where it can continue to rust and corrode your vehicle’s metal and steel parts. Therefore, the amount of damage that your car receives due to salt depends on the amount of time your car is exposed to the salt, the amount of road salt that comes into contact with your car, and the salt’s saturation level in the water.

If a vehicle gets exposed to salty conditions for an extended period or gets directly sprayed with a high salt concentration, it could be subjected to rust. You can read more below on the impacts of road salt on your car and ways you can protect, and prevent your car from rust.

How Long Does It Take for Your Car to Rust from Salt?

Salt is an oxidizing material that can aid corrosion. If your car gets exposed to salt for a long time, it will be exposed to corrosion. However, the impact of salt on your car might not be visible at the instant. If your car comes in contact with salt for a week, there might be no impact if you wash it off. However, with salt staining your car consistently and remaining there, it will only take weeks before your car starts suffering from it.

How Long Does It Take for Your Car to Rust from Salt

Some people use their cars on salty roads for a few winters before the impacts get to the car.

How Do You Protect Your Car from Salt and Rust?

Avoid Using It on Salty Roads

One way to protect your car from salt is not to use it on salty roads. To avoid taking your car through that stress and risking it getting rusted from exposure to salt, you can decide not to use your car until it stops snowing and salts are not put on the road again. Some car owners suspend using their cars when it starts snowing. Once the salts start hitting the road, they stop using their cars.

Avoid Using It on Salty Roads

However, it might be possible to stop using your car throughout the winter season. You might not be able to avoid using your car all through the winter. Therefore, you can resort to driving at strategic times. It helps to avoid driving immediately after a snowstorm. After a snowstorm, there is a high possibility that the road has been coated with salt or sand. These elements can get into your vehicle and accumulate there if they are not properly taken off.

Avoid Driving during a Snowstorm

Except the snowstorm meets you unexpectedly, your car should be on your property while it snows. When you drive, ensure to avoid puddles. These places accumulate water. This water is not safe for your vehicle because it is contaminated with dirt and salt from the road crew.

Avoid Driving during a Snowstorm

Wash Your Car when You Get off the Salty Road

Always washing your car whenever you get off the salty road is a smart move. It is advisable to wash your car every week. If weekly is not feasible, you can wash every ten days. It is not enough to wash your car, but you should wash it properly. A highly recommended washing pattern is to give your car an under blast.

Wash Your Car when You Get off the Salty Road

Blasting the bottom of your car with water from a high-pressure hose or other options is great for getting all the salt out. It will help you reach areas like fenders and beneath wheel wells. When washing, pay attention to the tires. Your tires are essential for keeping dirt and salt off your vehicle. The tires can accumulate dirt and salt and get them into your vehicle. Take note of the line designs on your tires and get the dirt off them. Some cars rust because they are not properly washed. If the salt residue sits on the car for a long time, it will lead to corrosion.

Coat Your Car with a Protective Layer

To keep your entire vehicle safe from the effect of salt, coat the vehicle with a protective layer that will shield it from salt and corrosion. It is advisable to coat your vehicle with mineral-based oil. Oil is one of the best coats for vehicles because it secures them from water and moisture. Water is an oxidizing material that causes rust. The oil coat will prevent water from sipping into hidden areas and folds. These areas are susceptible to corrosion even before it appears on other parts of the vehicle. In addition to these coatings, the underpart of your vehicle could use a thicker coating. One as thick as a gel is preferable for the rocker panels, wheel wells, and other areas underneath.

You can also apply protective oil to coat the internal part of your vehicle. Parts like the electrical components can use oil.

Use Sealants to Protect Your Car from Corrosion

You can also treat your vehicle yearly to secure it from corrosion. You can list the services of a professional to apply sealants to your vehicle. Sealants are great for protecting vehicles from corrosion-causing agents like salt. You can also secure the electronics with rust-preventing coats specially made for vehicle electronics.

Use Sealants to Protect Your Car from Corrosion

Protect Your Floorboard with Rubber Car Mats

Another way to protect your car interior from road salt and rust is to protect your floorboard with rubber car mats. You can transfer snow and salt from the road to your vehicle and damage the floor over time.

The goal of ensuring that your car does not get the impact from snow and salt is to prevent these elements from getting into your vehicle or staying on it when they do.


If your car is exposed to salt for an extended period, it will rust from it. If you wash your car frequently and ensure that snow and rust do not stay, you will keep corrosion at bay.

Snow will affect your vehicle if you do not wash it off on time. It is advisable also to coat your car for protection. You can also protect your vehicle’s interior and electronic areas from snow and rust with oil.

Evan Cooper

Evan Cooper

Hi, I’m Evan Cooper, the founder and an editor of this site, Doesitrust. I’m a chemical engineer and working in a rust-eliminating paint manufacturing company. Besides this profession, I’m a researcher and blogger.

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