Dear Car Coach: I was filling my car with gas the other day and it was cold and icy. The lady next to me was taking salt from the lot and putting it on her car. I had to ask what she was up to and she told me she was melting the ice on her car. I didn’t want to tell her that this didn’t sound so smart. Maybe she’ll read this column and you can present it in a nicer way than I might. – C.B.

Dear C.B.: I would have tried to tell her, but some people believe everything they read on the Internet or hear. You are correct. Road salt will severely damage anyone’s car. While some states use ash or rock salt, New York State uses common rock salt and sodium chloride, which is the primary de-icing chemical added to clear the roads. The United States as a whole uses up to 12 million tons each year. The state Department of Transportation reports that it uses an average of 950,000 tons of salt annually. This much salt mixture can destroy roadways and cars. On the positive side, road salt creates a lower freezing temperature on road surfaces, leading to less ice on roadways. While this salt can save countless lives during snowstorms, it could also shorten the life of your car.

Anyone who foolishly places this road salt on their vehicle is increasing the chance of creating corrosion on components and destroying their paint. Over time, salt can eat away the paint on your vehicle, lead to rusting problems on the frame and even damage to the undercarriage. Keep in mind when the air temperature reaches the 30s, the road salt will start to eat away at your vehicle. This concern leads many people to head to the car wash during the winter.


Dear Car Coach: I’ve owned a 2005 Acura TL since it was new, and have really enjoyed it. Now I am looking to replace it with a Crossover SUV and have narrowed it down to three: A 2013 Acura RDX, a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Turbo or a 2014 Kia Sorento.

Based on your experience, I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions. I have driven all three. – W.C.

Dear W.C.: I have also test-driven all three vehicles. All are great choices. Here are some things to consider when are narrowing down a new or used car choice. Besides looking at your payments, check with your insurance agent as that may help you make the final choice.

Here are my brief thoughts on each.

The 2013 Acura RDX has intuitive interior controls, smooth engine power and comfortable front and rear seats. However it lacks optional safety features like blind-spot monitoring.

The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Turbo offers good performance for the price with many standard features plus an outstanding warranty. I thought the steering felt a bit numb.

I really like the new technology package with larger navigation screen and UVO on the 2014 KIA Sorento; I prefer the performance of the six-cylinder. The four-cylinder was low on power for my taste. This vehicle has fantastic fuel economy and a lower base price with the long 10/100,000 warranty like the Hyundai.

Remember when buying any new car, NEVER pay the price on the window sticker. Do your homework, and compare dealers locally and on the Internet to get your best price.


Dear Car Coach: Three months ago, I changed jobs and now drive a total of 3.4 miles round trip on local roads, at less than 40 mph. It takes me less than five minutes to get to and from work. Before that, for the last nine years, I drove 40 miles round trip. There’s 110,000 on my 2004 Saturn Ion with the five-speed manual transmission, and I make sure it stays in excellent condition. I always use Valvoline full synthetic oil, and change the oil and filter every 5,000 miles. Given the change in driving time, do you recommend a change in the interval for oil and filter change, or oil type? Also, my MPG has dropped from 34-35 to around 28. I assume this is to be expected? – P.M.

Dear P.M.: Any high mileage car should use full synthetic oil to lengthen the life of the engine. Oil changes can be at 7,500 miles intervals as synthetic oil doesn’t break down like regular oil will with heat. Short trips will affect fuel economy. For best mileage, check your tire pressure once a month with the number inside your driver’s door and keep up on all recommended maintenance.