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Wash could help cars after ice, salty roads

The salty mix that kept Vicksburg drivers from slipping and sliding on the city’s steep hills is likely still stuck to the wheel wells, axles and the rest of the undercarriages of their cars and trucks.

Auto specialists say its best to wash it off sooner than later to avoid rust.

“When they get through with the cold weather for a few weeks, you need to wash off the car at least once a week. The salt won’t hurt it then,” said Lee Barber, owner of Lee’s Body Shop on Clay Street.

Barber recommended using an automated car wash that offers an undercarriage spray wash or using a manual wash and ensuring that the bottom of the car is scrubbed.

The city dumped about a ton and a half of salt onto streets in addition to about 200 yards of sand, city streets superintendent Skipper Whittington said.

The briny solution is not commonly used in Mississippi, but in northern states where it is left for months at a time, it can cause major damage, Barber said.

“We’ve had Mercedes come out of Chicago or New York and when they got it down here and raised the hood, there would be no inner wheel housing at all,” Barber said.

Barber also recommends washing the undercarriage of any vehicle that has recently been on the coast.

“Anywhere they’ve had salt it’s a good idea,” he said.

Cold temperatures, regardless of ice or snow, can take a toll a vehicle’s transmission, said Donnie Remore, owner of Automatic Transmission Service.

“What we’re seeing is a little bit of delays in applications like dropping in drive or a delay dropping in reverse,” Remore said.

A slipping transmission could be caused by not allowing a vehicle to sit and warm up long enough, he said.

“It’s best to let a vehicle warm up a little bit when it’s really cold it allows the fluid to thin out a little bit,” Remore said. “A weak transmission in weather like this usually goes on out.”

Slipping transmissions can also cause serious problems while heading up hills. Cars can stall and slide backwards on slopes, like they are on ice. This makes transmission problems easy to confuse with other cold weather hazards.

“If it’s acting up a little bit when it’s cold, in the summer when it gets really hot, it’s probably going to start acting up again,” Remore said.