The Salt Belt States
Road salt. It's great for melting ice, and awful for just about everything else.
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
MINI Cooper Recall Issued Over Risk of Fires More than 119,000 MINI Coopers recalled in cold weather states where road salt is used.
— A MINI Cooper recall involves more than 119,000 vehicles due to a risk of fires from short circuits in the footwells. The electronic control module in the driver-side footwell may suffer from a short-circuit due to water and road salt that leads to corrosion. The MINI Cooper recall includes these models: 2008-2014 MINI Cooper Clubman 2008-2014 MINI Cooper S Clubman 2008-2014 MINI John Cooper Works Clubman 2007-2013 MINI Cooper Hardtop ...
Honda CR-V Frame Rust Recall Affects Salt-Belt States Honda recalls 564,000 CR-V SUVs because the frames can corrode and rust in salt-belt states.
— A Honda CR-V frame rust recall affects nearly 564,000 SUVs, but only in states where road salt is used during winter months. According to Honda, the recalled 2007-2011 Honda CR-V SUVs include those that were sold or ever registered in these areas: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West ...
Honda Ridgeline Frame Rust Recall: Buybacks Possible Honda recalls 112,000 Ridgeline trucks sold in cold weather states where road salt is applied.
— A Honda Ridgeline frame rust recall includes more than 144,000 model year 2006-2014 Ridgeline trucks originally sold in these states where road salt is applied in cold weather. Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington D.C. and Wisconsin. A Honda Ridgeline frame ...
Toyota 4Runner Rusted Frame Defect Petition Denied Safety regulators conclude an investigation isn't necessary for rusted 4Runner suspensions.
— A Toyota 4Runner rusted frame investigation won't be initiated after a 4Runner owner petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate alleged premature frame corrosion on more than 520,000 model year 2002-2006 Toyota 4Runners. The petition to investigate was submitted in August 2018 by 2005 Toyota 4Runner owner Gary Weinreich a few months before he filed a class action lawsuit against Toyota alleging front suspension failures in ...
Nissan Rogues Recalled Following 'Thermal Events' Nissan recalls 793,000 Rogue SUVs because of corroded connectors that could cause fires.
— A 2014-2016 Nissan Rogue recall includes more than 793,000 SUVs in the U.S. and Canada for problems that could possibly cause fires, although Nissan believes less than 1% of the Rogues are at risk. According to Nissan, an electrical connector for the underdash harness may corrode due to water and salt intrusion from the driver's side foot well. Nissan received a report in March 2017 about a 2015 Rogue located in Canada that experienced localized deformation ...