Driving in Minnesota... salt, snow, yuck

Just bought a new '09 Yaris (love it), and the most recent show (918) has my gears turning about how best to keep this car going for a long, long time.

The caller from Minnesota (where I also live) has me worried about salt and snow. I don’t park in a garage (because I don’t have one!), which I read on here somewhere is actually good because heat contributes to rust. I also plan on going to the car wash and getting the underbody sprayed after each salt bath when possible. Any other rust prevention tips?

Also, the caller on snow tires has me wondering… should I get snow tires? I live in the city , which means that I’m hardly ever driving on “snow” as much as “salty, slushy, grimy goop”. I didn’t know that snow tires were worse on water… should I just stick with my all-season tires?

Your Yaris has been rustproofed at the factory using state-of-the-art techniques. Other than washing and waxing there’s little else to do. The salt will win, eventually, but that’s true no matter what you do.

I’m a believer in winter tires, and I install them at all four corners for winter driving. Modern winter tires make a big difference, and I think they’re worth the money.

What do you mean, “snow tires are worse on water?” I don’t understand that part.

In the show, Tom and Ray said that snow tires are more likely to hyrdoplane in wet conditions… did I hear that right?

Here, from the podcast at about 40 minutes in.

“here’s the problem, snow tires are great in snow, but they stink in wet. And they stink in dry conditions.”

“if she’s driving on a really wet road [using snow tires], the cars gonna hydroplane”

I think they mean that its bad on WARM wet roads. Do you have front wheel drive on that yaris? My take is, if you do all city driving, you can stick with all seasons as long as they are in good shape. Winter tires are way better on snow though.

I drive my car, with winter tires, at highway speeds in rain and it does NOT hydroplane.

Winter tires are made for snow, slush, etc. Water does not affect them.

You shouldn’t keep winter tires on yer round, however, because they will wear out very quickly in warm weather.

If you buy quality winter(not snow) tires they are incredible in any winter condition including cold dry or wet days beyond the obvious slush, ice, and snow. A great one is the Michelin X-Ice. I would simply see how winter driving is with your all-seasons and then decide after a storm or two.

Modern cars in salty environments long outlive the average owners life span of vehicle. A yaris is not a forever vehicle IMHO as it is easy to outgrow or have life changes around. In my area where salt is used in decent amounts vehicles last 15-20 years with regards to salt with little attention paid to washing them or not.

If you live in MN and want to keep your car indefinitely, park it before road salting season begins and don’t drive it until road salting ends in the spring. Get a waste car for salt season. There is no other way. I live in road salt country too and have arrived at this after losing many cars, a few of them good ones that I would have otherwise kept, to the salt.

Don’t feel deprived in MN as southerners have the powerful sunshine and heat beating up on their cars.

If you live in MN and want to keep your car indefinitely, park it before road salting season begins and don’t drive it until road salting ends in the spring.

Minnasota doesn’t get enough snow to warrant that. 20 years ago that was a good idea…but cars have vastly improved…

We don’t do that…any keep our cars for 10+ years and usually over 250k miles…NEVER had a problem with rust…and we get a LOT more snow then MN does…I have many relatives in Upstate NY who do the same thing as we do…and they don’t have any rust issues…and they get A LOT MORE SNOW then we do…probably close to 10 times the amount of snow MN gets.

Having lived for three years in Grand Forks North Dakota, I can testify that ice is much more of a problem than snow. Driving the the city you’ll have no need for winter tires as long as you have good all season radials. And make sure you have plenty of tread on them before every winter.

Well siped winter tires are definitely better on ice, but on those straight flat roads at city speeds you’ll be fine. You can always change them if you feel the urge.

Since every car and driver combo is different why not try the all season see how it goes, then if needed move up to snow tires. You should check your car to see if it has a block heater. If you bought it in MN it most likely came with a cold weather package. Salesmen in my experience have no clue, so read your specs or look for an ac plug, or ask the dealer mechanic where it would be. With no garage that is one of the best things you can do for your engine. My rule of thumb is to plug the car in at 15 deg or below nights. Supposedly it uses the same electricity as a 100 watt bulb.

10 year car? Talk to me when you have a 23 year old car, bought new. 10 years in salt country is nothing to boast about any more.

Salt used to visibly rust out some cars after only about 3 or 4 years. 10 years with no topside visible rust to scrapping or trading is great by comparison but is not indefinite. If you want to see what you have, look underneath the car.

I live in Minnesota, and you want winter tires. The reason is, when a snow storm hits, MNDOT only keeps main arteries such as freeways and snow emergency routes cleared during the storm. All other secondary roads/streets are on a low priority for plowing during the storm in order to keep the main arteries cleared. So you may see 6" of snow on the streets before they get plowed. So with winter tires you have a better chance of getting to these cleared arteries, and with all season tires you ain’t going nowhere.


Since we put anywhere from 30k-40k miles on a car every year…If I kept it 23 years I’d have anywhere from 600k to over 900k miles…So you telling me your car has over 600k miles???

Something like 80% of all new car buyers don’t keep their car past 6 years.

As I said…MN doesn’t get enough snow or salt to warrant getting a beater car.

I have to as (off topic) wish to know how you ended up in Grand Forks? I ended up there twice by totally unrelated circumstances, GFAFB Assistant mgr at the officers club and ex. chef at the Holiday inn. My excuse was a summer place near Brainerd, what is your story? I have to say winter in Grand Forks is a different animal than winter in the twin cities, in Grand forks it does not get warm enough to form slush :),and ps I never did the snow tires for my f 100 2wd and got through fine having only a camper top for weight.

Personally I don’t think anywhere warrants a “beater” car.

My Grandmother lived in St. Paul and her old 88 chevy rwd without winter tires got her just fine, though there was the year St. Paul ran out of money and quit plowing and salting. she complained about that year!

Personally I don’t think anywhere warrants a “beater” car.

I agree…Not today…20 years ago…yes…but not now. And if you keep your car for 20+ years…then it becomes the beater car.

I did not say that I drove that much with one car. Our driving is divided among three cars; one almost new, one middle aged used for winter and one very old. An old car is much like new if mechanically maintained and not rusty. Rust is an insidious car killer that snow/salt belt people don’t fully realize the significance of how it ruins their cars as they are accustomed to it.

In addition, it is easier to want to mechanically maintain an old car that is not rusty.

Relax. You car is not your grandfather’s car. Modern cars come will protected. You don’t really need to do anything and you don’t want to try and add rust proofing that likely will cause more damage. I do not worry about going to a car wash to rinse off the salt. Likely that water is recycled anyway so they are just forcing more salty water into areas that might have been salt free. It could make the matter worse.

Winter tyres are a must in my book, but that is up to you. If you live in the city and don’t need to drive residential streets, you might be OK with all season tyres.

You missed the point completely.

I LIVE in a much snowier area then MN…my relatives live in the snowiest area in Continental US…And NON of us had any rust issues on cars in 20+ years…even after 2-3 hundred thousand miles. Cars don’t have the rust issues they did years ago…so a beater car is NOT needed.