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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Finally 50

I am so thankful for the annual arrival of the spring equinox.  My apologies to those who love winter, but I am markedly gratified when we experience the first 50-degree-plus temperatures accompanying the advent of spring, leaving the snow and ice behind.

The satisfaction of actually being warmed by the sun on 50-degree-plus day and watching small rivers of water run from the last piles of melting snow makes me gleeful.  It’s funny that the same 50 degrees that feel cold when it occurs in the fall feels warm in the spring.  Anyway, this temperature rise is also a signal that winter’s deleterious effects on vehicles are about to cease for the year, and I’m especially glad for that.

Those unwelcome effects have become exaggerated ever since private parking lot owners, along with city, county and state agencies have adopted the rampant use of liquid deicer in winter.  I guess I’m “old school” when it comes to winter road preparation — prudent plowing, along with judicious use of sand on grades and at intersections always seemed effective and more environmentally friendly to me.

I don’t know exactly how the millions of gallons of the caustic liquid spread each winter affect our aquifer, but it’s not likely in a beneficial way.

What I do know is that the dreadful liquid-in-question is a very effective corrosive agent.  Our vehicles are a testament to that.  Each tiny paint nick becomes an open door to the steel beneath, where blisters grow in the surrounding finish.  Painted alloy wheel rims suffer the same in the hard-to-clean exposed lug nut area.  Trucks spreading the stuff have even lost entire brake pedals due to corrosion according to maintenance shops.

With that sort of corrosion readily visible, there are certainly plenty of other areas where the liquid hides out.  That’s why it’s a good idea to treat your car or truck to an automatic car wash periodically in winter, preferably one that blasts the underside with water.

Speaking of “hiding out,” a mechanic from one of those maintenance shops reported that when the liquid makes its way into a wiring loom, it regularly ends up beneath the insulation of vehicle wiring, corroding wire beneath its shroud.  Talk about a diagnostic and repair nightmare!  Being at the front line, so to speak, metal nozzles and spray mechanisms mounted to the trucks must dissolve continually.

The liquid product currently being used may melt snow and ice, but it has all the qualities needed for destroying metal:  corrosive, clingy, slow to evaporate, and spreads after application.  Sand may create some dust, but any liquid deicer that doesn’t end up in the aquifer will eventually dry out and end up as undesirable particulate in the air.  I’d welcome the use of sand, combined with frequent sweeping between storms to keep dust under control — I’d even be glad to sweep up any adjacent to my property myself!

Unfortunately, we’re probably saddled with this liquid for many winters to come.  That’s because today’s average driver demands clear roads at all times, and dumping endless gallons of deicer is the latest and easiest way to accomplish that.

As wintery weather wanes, I’m anxious to turn the outside water back on at my home.  Then, I can give my vehicles a well-earned thorough “spa treatment,” reversing the ravages of winter’s snow, ice, freezing temperatures and deicer.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at