MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Maybe you wait in line for a car wash simply so your car or truck looks better.

But auto mechanics say during the winter months, it’s actually a necessity.

“We go through times like recently where we have small snow [falls] and they’re throwing lots of salt out,” mechanic Paul Hagen said. “As we look at our roads, they’re white, the highways, they’re white with it right now. So washing is very important, as much as you can. Once a week is recommended.”

That mixture of road salt and chemicals can be a recipe for a rust disaster.

“Typically [the brake line] is where the problem will arise,” he said. “That supplies the actual fluid that makes the brakes expand.”

Hagen, the owner of Hagen Auto Body in Minneapolis, took a look at a minivan with lots of miles on it, and plenty of rust.

“These areas are showing corrosion, flaking and such like that, but no holes or anything of concern at this point,” Hagen said.

He says not all vehicles are created equal. Some manufacturers sell cars and trucks that endure ice melt solutions better than others.

“Some newer vehicles do have rust issues, and that’s something to, you know, look into, investigate before you buy a car, make sure it’s not a rusty-type vehicle that you’re buying,” he said.

Hagen showed us how easily a chip in the paint can spread.

“A little maintenance can go a long way by looking at this and catching this chip right away, touching it up, putting some paint on it so this does not happen,” Hagen said.

At Park & Lake Car Wash in Minneapolis, customer Jesus Delgado says he would rather pay for a car wash now than for body repair work later.

“You have to keep it clean. Yeah, you have to, otherwise you get rusty cars,” Delgado said.

The recommendation for protecting your vehicle from rust damage is to do what you can to wash off that residue from road salt and brine shortly after each snow storm, or at least once a week during the winter months.

The mechanics and the car wash manager also say that getting a wax treatment is worth it as well.

We got mixed opinions about upgraded car wash packages that include an undercarriage wash. Hagen says the problem they see is that the underside of your vehicle just gets dirty again as soon as you drive out.

But the folks at the car wash say it’s one of their most frequent upgrades, and they believe their machines do a great job of cleaning out the nasty stuff underneath cars and trucks.

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