In the wintertime, cities often use salt to help melt ice and snow on roads. Unfortunately, this same salt can also do significant damage to a car’s undercarriage. Over time, salt corrodes metal parts leading to rust or other issues; additionally, salt damages rubber and plastic components as well. So how can you protect your undercarriage from salt damage?
In this article, I’ll provide you with an easy method for protecting the undercarriage of your car from salt damage. Doing so can keep it looking pristine for many years to come! Read on to discover more about the process.
To protect the undercarriage from salt you will need to park the vehicle, lift it using a jack and jack stands, remove all four wheels, wash the undercarriage, let it dry, sand down the metal parts, and apply an undercoating spray.
How To Protect The Undercarriage From Salt
- Get a professional-grade undercoating spray
- Park the car on a leveled ground
- Jack the front and the back end of the vehicle
- Remove the wheels
- Wash the undercarriage
- Sand down the metal parts
- Apply the undercoating spray
- Keep the coatings from being rubbed off by inspecting and respraying
How To Protect The Undercarriage From Salt
Protecting the undercarriage from salt requires applying a protective layer. Coating metal and plastic parts beneath your vehicle with salt-repellant paint help ensure they never come in contact with salt, protecting them from corrosion. Here is how to shield your undercarriage:
Note: Even if your city does not use salt on its roads, you still need to do this. Your vehicle could still be exposed to saltwater (close to an ocean or sea), and over time the salt will seep into metal parts of your car and cause them to rust.
1. Required materials
- Wire brush or sandpaper
- Professional grade undercoating spray (see prices on amazon.com)
- Protective gear (face mask, goggles, gloves)
- Car jack and jack stands
- Lug wrench
2. Park the car on a leveled ground
This task could take up to five hours of work, so you should plan ahead. Start by parking the vehicle on level ground; otherwise, you will have to lift both front and rear ends in order to gain access underneath it.
Additionally, you should factor in the time needed for each task. If you plan on finishing in one day, determine when and where your work can be accomplished.
Starting early in the morning allows for optimal lighting conditions; however, if starting later in the day, ensure your car is parked inside a garage or has access to some form of backup power source.
But regardless, park the vehicle on level ground and ensure the parking brake is engaged.
3. Jack the front and the back end of the vehicle
Protecting the undercarriage of a vehicle from salt requires various tasks like washing it, sanding it, and applying the coating.
To do this safely, lift both front and back ends using a jack; follow the jacking points in your owner’s manual for specific instructions on lifting. Lift the car high enough that you can easily get underneath it to work on it safely.
4. Remove the wheels
Removing the wheels may seem like an extra step that needs more work, but do it anyway – it will make accessing and coating an important area of your car much easier.
As snow accumulates on it during driving, salt and ice buildup accumulate on it – the fender. This area is notorious for rust damage due to tire throwback snow accumulation.
To take the wheels off a car, you will need a lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts. Since your vehicle has already been lifted, use this to loosen all of the lug nuts and store them separately.
With your handheld in place, gently tug on each wheel in turn; be gentle as this may take some effort since your car is on jack stands and any force could cause it to come loose from its supports.
When pulling out wheels with this method, be sure not to overextend yourself since this step requires using caution; don’t over-exert too much force as your car could fall off its stands while being lifted off!
5. Wash the undercarriage
The ideal way to clean a car’s undercarriage is with a pressure washer. Be sure to lower the setting on your washer before beginning, as high pressure can damage sensitive components.
Next, direct the nozzle upward and move it back and forth across the underside of the car starting from the front and working your way backward. Pay special attention to any areas that appear particularly dirty or likely to corrode.
However, if you don’t have access to a pressure washer, a garden hose can work just as well. But since all sorts of stuff get under the vehicle, you might also need an additional brush for stubborn grime removal. When using the brush, soak it in some soapy water first but make sure that afterward, you rinse thoroughly – we don’t want soap interfering with the undercoating!
6. Sand down the metal parts
Sanding the undercarriage of your vehicle before applying an undercoat is essential. By sanding down metal parts, you are effectively eliminating any rust and remaining grime that might interfere with adhesion between layers and provide better protection for the metal surface. This will make applying the undercoat much easier on metal surfaces as well.
Sanding down the undercarriage of a car is not an especially challenging task. To begin, gather all necessary supplies: sandpaper in various grits, a dust mask, eye protection, and a power sander. If you don’t own one yet, hand sanding with either sandpaper or a wire brush works just as well.
Next, begin with coarse-grit sandpaper and work your way up to finer grit. Be patient as you go along, taking care not to damage the metal. Once you’re finished sanding, be sure to clear away all dust residue.
7. Apply the undercoating spray
At this point, your undercarriage should have been washed, dried, and sanded. Now it’s time to apply the undercoating spray. Grab the can and shake vigorously before use; you can start from anywhere; personally, I like starting behind the wheel so I can do all four wheels first then move underneath the vehicle.
Make sure all metal parts get coated; don’t worry if some spray gets on plastic parts such as shocks or studs – this stuff is non-abrasive so won’t damage them.
One common misstep people make during this step is not having enough undercoating sprays. If this is your first time doing it, you might not know how many you need so it’s best to purchase a pack of six. Additionally, remember to have extra undercoating spray on hand for future projects.
8. Keep the coatings from being rubbed off
We all know that while driving, many things can get under the car and chip the undercoating. Without an undercoating layer, metal is left vulnerable to salt damage and thus needs frequent inspection. That is why it’s so important to get under your vehicle periodically and inspect its condition.
Your undercarriage will remain protected from salt damage as long as you keep the coatings from becoming rubbed off or cracked. If in case of a wreck and don’t reseal the coating afterward, your car won’t be shielded against salt buildup.
Where Should You Not Spray Undercoating?
Undercoating your car is essential to protect it from corrosion, but you should avoid spraying undercoating on certain car parts.
Undercoating can trap moisture and cause rusting. We advise against spraying undercoating on brake rotors, brake drums, rubber, sensors cameras driveshaft tires exhaust systems, and engine compartments since these items tend to get hot during use.