Why so liberal with the road salt – especially when it’s not even snowing?
Last week, there was a rumor of snow. The possibility – 60 percent chance – of “up to an inch” that never materialized resulted in a hosing down of every road with a salty brine carried by huge tanker trucks followed – for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety – by a smaller truck with flashing yellow lights.
The sign on the back of the truck reads: Pre-Storm Treatment.
The “pre” part is accurate.
But the storm? Not one weather prognosticator had predicted anything more than a light dusting. If that. But it was enough to literally hose down the roads with an environmentally toxic salt brine (technically, magnesium chloride) that’s also exceptionally caustic to cars.
This liquid brine – which appears to have replaced the solid salt scattered on roads when it snows and while it’s snowing – is a guaranteed rust-enhancer. You literally drive through a salt bath, untempered (undiluted) by the melting snow – because there isn’t any. The dry road is awash with liquid salt and if you’re on the road, you have no option but to bathe your car in it.
If you don’t wash it off that day, the progression of rust will alarm you – or would, if you were aware of it.
I became aware of it this time because I happened to have the bad luck to be driving my personal truck a couple of weeks back rather than someone else’s press car when I got caught in the Brine Orgy on my way home. My truck got soaked, top to bottom.
And then it sat for a couple of weeks because I was too busy to get out the pressure washer and de-brine the underside.
I regret that I did not.
Over the weekend, I finally did. And discovered that – among other things – my rear shocks, which were still blue a month ago, were now a crusty shade of rust. Actual flaking was visible. The exhaust pipes and muffler – not made of stainless steel – looked like they’d aged five years. Brake lines and fittings were deteriorating. They looked nearly new six months ago.
I’ve seen this before – at car company proving grounds. Where – among other things – they douse cars in liquid salt to gauge the effectiveness of factory-applied corrosion protection. This is considered an extreme test – designed to accelerate the rusting-out process.
Now our cars are being doused – by the government – with the same effect.
The washing down of the roads with brine – before it even snows and often, even if it never actually does snow – hastens the disintegration of the physical structure of our cars, forcing them off the road long before their mechanicals are no longer road-worthy.
This serves the purpose of nudging us to buy a new car sooner. Which is profitable for the car companies who made the mistake of making cars too durable, too reliable and too maintenance-free beginning in the ’90s.
People who bought a new car once every six years or so in the past now often keep the same car for 12 years (the age of the average car on the road as of 2020). Getting off the road earlier is now easier – and faster – because the brine is sloshed down whenever snow is possible.
Which is much more often than when it actually snows.
In my area – Southwest Virginia – it hasn’t snowed yet this winter, excepting a handful of “dustings” (less than an inch) that made salting the roads as necessary as turning on the AC when it’s 20 degrees outside.
But the brine trucks have soaked the roads at least eight times so far.
And the winter’s far from over.
Even if not intentionally sinister, the result of all this salt-bathing is. It is but another of many examples of the contempt government has for our property – our cars – as well as our money.
Our cars are damaged by the promiscuous and unnecessary dumping of liquid cancer (to metal) all over the roads when there’s no legitimate reason to dump it all over the roads.
And what about the environment? We are constantly lectured about the effects of the things we do upon the environment, including things of dubious harmfulness, such as driving cars (that aren’t electric cars). But can it be good for the environment to dump liquid salt into it?
The brine – being liquid – goes directly into the soil as runoff and then into the ground. Probably also the groundwater. Yummy!
If you or I or any mere ordinary were to dump thousands of gallons of liquid salt brine into the environment, is there any doubt an EPA Hut! Hut! Hutting! would not ensue?
But it’s ok – as always – when the government does it.
But it’s convenient for the government to do it. Easier to “pre-treat” the roads before it actually snows and no worries if it doesn’t. The environment may have a different perspective.
It’s also profitable, in the make-work sense.
In the pre-brine past, government road crews had to wait until it actually began snowing to begin the work of clearing the snow – and spreading salt. With brine, there’s much more “work” to do – whenever it clouds up. And because the brine is laid down whether it snows or not, it gets used up. This is important to government make-workers, who need to use up whatever resources they have (paid-for by us) before the end of the budget year in order to justify the same allotment of our resources next budget year.
In the pre-brine days, salt not used was available for next year – and there was the harrowing possibility that the budget for next year might be less because supplies of salt were still on hand from last year.
Better to dump it all into the environment as quickly as possible and who cares what it costs us. . .
Or “the environment.”
Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)