Cold-weather states that have to use a heavy dose of salt in the winter are sometimes referred to as the “salt belt.” Every now and again you’ll see a recall or investigation that is limited to this this specific region.
Understandably, the “salt belt” is also known as the “rust belt.”
“The biggest threat salt poses to a vehicle is rust, which is accelerated by repeated exposure to salt. Rust on certain parts of a car can create a slew of problems ranging from hydraulic brake system leaks to subframe damage.” — Accuweather.com
The states in this belt are, as you’d expect, found in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the upper Midwest. The belt, however, sometimes grows or shrinks depending on the recall.
The “Salt Belt” 21
Here are the 21 states (plus one district) that you’ll almost always see listed as part of the “salt belt”:
Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington D.C.
Depending on what models are being recalled, Canada can be included too because, well … it’s Canada and it snows a lot there.
“Why isn’t Alaska on the primary [salt belt] list? Maybe Alaskans don’t like road salt. Maybe they just ride around on polar bears all winter. I’ve never been, so I can’t say for sure.”
Other states such as Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah are also sometimes considered part of the “salt belt.”
Why isn’t Alaska, our northernmost and one of the snowiest states, on the primary list? I’m not really sure. Maybe Alaskans don’t like road salt. Maybe they just ride around on polar bears all winter. I’ve never been, so I can’t say for sure.
The Reason For All This Salt
Salt is used on roads because it helps lower the melting point of ice, to a point. A 10% salt solution will lower water’s freezing point from 32 F (0 C) to 20 F (–6 C). But once it starts to get colder things get a little science-y and salt’s effectiveness starts to fade.
How Salt Affects Your Car
Salt has a nasty habit of finding places where it can do the most damage. Take that small nick in the paint of your car that came courtesy of a rogue shopping cart. Salt will nestle in past the paint, attach itself top your car’s exposed metal frame and eat that sucker dry. Salt will also eat through:
- Your paint, if you haven’t properly waxed
- Your struts and shocks
- Fuel tanks and other components if there are bad welds
- Brake lines and other good times
To combat salt corrosive awfulness, manufacturers will sometimes treat your car with anti-rust sprays, zinc-rich galvanizing compounds and rubberized underbody coatings that work … for a while. Sometimes you’ll even receive an anti-corrosion warranty with a new car that lasts a couple years.
Preventing Rust and Corrosion on Your Car
Your best bet is to wax your car before winter and then regularly wash it, when you can, throughout the cold months.
Some say that salt’s corrosive properties slow down once the salt dries into a crusty white dust all over your car. Those people are very wrong and you should never take advice from them again.
“Go through a car wash that has an under-spray,” says Manager of Vehicle Services at Firestone Complete AutoCare, Joe Roger “That will try to reduce the chances that all that salt and salt water will get on the vehicle and start to corrode.”
Salt Belt News
Isuzu Fuel Tank Rust Won't Be Investigated Government says Isuzu fuel tanks do corrode and partially detach, but no defect trends exist.
— Isuzu fuel tanks that allegedly detach due to corrosion and rust won't be investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after the agency denied a consumer petition to open an investigation. NHTSA received the petition in April 2018 requesting the agency investigate rust-related fuel tank detachments in Isuzu Rodeo SUVs. The petitioner says his 2004 Isuzu Rodeo suffered from a partial fuel tank detachment in 2017 because of ...
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Brake Vacuum Pump Investigation Closed Safety regulators close investigation following 3 recalls due to i-MiEV vacuum pump failures.
— Mitsubishi i-MiEV brake vacuum pump problems have allegedly been fixed after the automaker issued three recalls since 2013. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into brake vacuum pump recalls ordered in 2013 and 2014 but closed its investigation after a third recall was announced in December 2019. The investigation included 2010-2017 i-MiEV cars after three customers complained about brake vacuum pump failures in ...
Nissan Altima Rear Lower Control Arm Replacement Program Rear lower control arms will be replaced on certain Nissan Altima cars in specific states.
— A Nissan Altima rear lower control arm replacement program is beginning for owners in states with high road salt usage. Only 2013 Nissan Altimas are included in the U.S. replacement program, and 2013-2014 Altima cars are included in the Canadian program. According to Nissan, the rear lower control arms can separate at the bushing joint areas due to rust and corrosion from road salt used in winter months. Altima owners may hear rattling or knocking noises ...
Nissan Altima Rear Lower Control Arms Investigated in Canada Transport Canada says 2013-2014 Nissan Altima owners complain about busted control arms.
— Nissan Altima rear lower control arm failures are under investigation in Canada after complaints were filed about components that corroded and fractured. Transport Canada opened the investigation into 2013-2014 Altimas after receiving 17 complaints in the past 11 months. Canadian investigators are looking into claims the rear lower control arms suffer from premature corrosion that causes the control arms to separate from their attachment points. As can be ...
Ford Fiesta Recall Issued For Headlight Failures Ford recalls 13,500 Fiesta cars in Canada because the battery junction boxes can corrode.
— Ford is recalling more than 13,500 Fiesta cars in Canada because of problems related to corrosion from the use of road salt in cold weather. Recalled are 2012-2013 Ford Fiestas in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Ford says the battery junction box can corrode from road salt used on icy roads, causing a loss of low-beam headlights and daytime running lights. The recalled ...