Seasonal safety: Winter

NHTSA links road salt to brake pipe corrosion, failure

Washington – Vehicles with a model year of 2007 or earlier may be at risk for brake pipe corrosion from exposure to road salt, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety advisory.

The corrosion could result in brake pipe failure and lead to a motor vehicle crash, the advisory warns.

NHTSA investigated brake pipe failures involving pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles of model years 1999 to 2003 and found that the failures were due to “end-of-life wear-out.” The failures can be linked to the brake line coating materials used on vehicles being manufactured at that time.

To help protect against this type of corrosion, NHTSA recommends vehicle owners do the following:

  • Clean your vehicle – particularly its undercarriage – after winter to remove road salt. Wash the undercarriage often during the winter months.
  • Check your vehicle’s brake pipes and other undercarriage parts for signs of failure. Have a mechanic look at the vehicle twice a year if the car is old and you live in a state that experiences cold weather.
  • Replace the brake pipe assembly if severe corrosion is present.