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Why Your Vehicle Rusts Away on Maine Roads

Photo by, Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

It drives us all crazy. You do your best to take care of your car, truck, or SUV and it rusts away long before the engine is ready to give up its life in getting you here and there. Recently, I took my truck in for an inspection and was informed that this was probably the last season for it, as rust will eventually cause the frame to weaken to unsafe levels. It’s a dilemma that we all face here in the Maine.

The major culprits for our rusting headaches I found out is two-fold.

First of all–and this is according to Maine DOT website–automobile manufacturers has pretty much stopped the use of hexavalent chromium, a corrosion resistant coating on many steel, zinc, aluminum, and magnesium motor vehicle parts. Click the link and see the list of manufacturers and when they stopped using the chemical. Yours is probably on the list.

Secondly, calcium chloride is the major culprit in eating our vehicles alive in the winter months. Sure, rock salt is used and also has corrosive properties, but calcium chloride and the ‘brine’ solution that contains it is much more corrosive. You may have seen road crews spraying the roads with the brine solution just prior to a storm, but also there’s some pre-wetting to the rock salt to increase the effectiveness and to keep it from bouncing off the road when applied.

So what’s the answer to our problems? Well, I’m all for ice-free roadways, and I encourage Maine’s DOT workers to keep up the good work with their current method of prevention and removal of ice and snow. We all appreciate your hard work all year long.

Also, there are businesses that specialize in undercoating vehicles, and it’s generally not cheap to get done, but with today’s engines lasting much longer than they used to, I would suggest an undercoating treatment shortly after buying your vehicle, especially if it’s a late model.

Lastly, I think we all need to get on the bandwagon and go after auto manufacturers and demand they start using hexavalent chromium again or some other rust preventative chemical when assembling their products. I don’t know about you, but I’d be more inclined to buy a vehicle that’s been ‘treated’ than one that has never been, and I’d be willing to pay a little more too.

To get an idea as to what a vehicle’s frame looks like and what happens when it rusts away, check out this short video. The truck featured is out of Iowa, but you’ll get the idea:

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