Splashing through salt water puddles

Big Splash, Lot of Laughs,
But Bye-Bye to the Vehicle

By Michael Bradley

It’s great sport for Cape Cod townies! Find a spot on a local road where the street dips down and the marsh is close, then when there is a high tide or a gale like the remnants of Hurricane Sandy, park your vehicle off to the side of the road and watch the newcomers to the Cape splash their Jeeps, Volvo’s and SUV’s through the salt water covering the road. Many pictures from Hurricane Sandy prove the point, here and elsewhere. Many people who live near the ocean just don’t seem to get it.

It’s not just a big puddle of rainwater that can be splashed through;
it’s salt water!
Somehow, nobody’s told these folks that when the ocean has crossed the road, it’s not just a big puddle of rainwater that can be splashed through; it’s salt water! And when a vehicle has been driven through such a ‘puddle’ at anything more than a crawl, that vehicle is dead; it won’t die today or tomorrow, but within six months it will be on its way to hospice with a deadly case of advancing rust.

First will be the brakes and the brake lines, then the exhaust, then the hangers for the gas tank, then the braces for the radiator, but after those repairs will come the body and frame issues. Sudden blotches on the paint, soon to become rust holes, accompanied by heavy rust scale on all the undercarriage parts followed by ongoing disintegration.

The vehicle may still run well, its heart might be strong, but its body and underpinnings will be consistently eaten away. There is no stopping it! Once the salt water was driven up into the crevices of the undercarriage by the churning force of the tire treads at 20 or 30 mph there is no way back. Taking the vehicle to a car wash for an undercarriage douche won’t even begin to touch where the corrosive sea salt lies.There is simply no justification – save for a life or death emergency – for driving a vehicle through salt water. That is why the townies can be seen turning around and going back whenever they encounter a flooded roadway, although sometimes they park alongside for the show.

It’s only the blissfully unaware who treat ocean flooding as just another big puddleIt’s only the blissfully unaware who treat ocean flooding as just another big puddle, something where its possible to show how good the new Volvo All-Wheel-Drive, the Jeep or SUV really is when confronted with nature. But salt water has no mercy. Every joint in the suspension, every lubricated bearing, will begin to deteriorate immediately, long before the body and bumpers show the signs of a rusty death.

But even if the driver is smart enough to let the vehicle crawl through the flooded area at just about idle, there is danger. The wheels, bearings and brakes would need to be directly flushed, along with the wheel wells and suspension, yet even then there is no guarantee that the treacherous salt water has not penetrated elsewhere.

And so it is easy to understand why the townies find it a great amusement to watch the newcomers to Cape Cod ignore the fact they’re parked at the side of the road, or are backing up, and plow on through, sometimes laughing at those locals who hesitated.

Of course, the old axiom is in play: those who laugh last laugh the best.

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