Car warranty fears over council road gritting technique

robert.saunders

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The level of warranty claims against vehicles could rise ‘dramatically’ over the next decade, as a result of corrosion caused by a widely-used pre-wet gritting technique.

Research by car manufacturer Volkswagen has shown that liability cases against its cars in Austria, where pre-wetting is common, have risen by more than 60% in three years. Recent testing by Volkswagen, which involved metal plates being attached to gritting lorries, has also shown ‘significant’ corrosion to vehicles operating in pre-wet conditions. Dr Jorg Struve, of the Central Laboratory of Metals and Surface Technology, at Volkswagen, said: ‘I have no doubt that the pre-wetting technique has led to increased corrosion to vehicles, and it is inevitable we will see the same happen in the UK in the next decade.’

Many local authorities in the UK favour the pre-wet option and it has also been adopted by the Highways Agency. The agency is planning to roll out use of the treatment across most of the UK motorway network in the next three years. Pre-wetting involves applying around 30% of saturated sodium chloride brine to dry salt. A holding tank on the gritting vehicle discharges the brine via spray method as the salt leaves a spinner mounted on the bottom. It is considered by many local authorities as the most effective way of applying salt to the road network.

Professor Tony Hindle, senior lecturer in operational research at Lancaster University, told Surveyor: ‘The suggestion that corrosion costs are a thing of the past for vehicle manufacturers is very wrong. The growing body of evidence that suggests pre-wetting leads to increased corrosion is a big worry.’ Brian Smith, president of the County Surveyors’ Society (CSS) and deputy chief executive of Cambridgeshire County Council, said his own council had moved towards pre-wet in recent years in rural areas, and would be ‘reviewing our position’. ‘I am sure that managers involved in decisions about winter maintenance will want to fully understand the findings and consider the relevance and cost issues for their own operation,’ he added.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) told Surveyor that it was ‘concerned’ about the situation and ‘would monitor developments carefully as regards to corrosion on behalf of its members.’ One supplier of gritting lorries revealed that chassis’ lives were being reduced by between two and three years because of corrosion. ‘And these are chassis’ of well-known manufacturers as well,’ said Surveyor’s source.

But defending pre-wet, an HA spokeswoman said: ‘The decision to use pre-wet is based on a substantial amount of ongoing research and evidence from across Europe. Pre-wet uses less salt on the network, which has to be better for everyone.’


http://www.localgov.co.uk/index.cfm?method=news.detail&id=71607
 

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But defending pre-wet, an HA spokeswoman said: ‘The decision to use pre-wet is based on a substantial amount of ongoing research and evidence from across Europe. Pre-wet uses less salt on the network, which has to be better for everyone.


Presumably only on a cost basis. It makes sense that coating the underside of ones car with salt water is likely to present problems long term.
 

grober

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Certainly a cause for concern, but the damage done may be less than you would experience in an accident caused by sliding on an icy surface if the roads weren't treated ?:( Swings and Roundabouts?:confused:
 

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can we/manufactures claim money back from the highways agency due to this problem like we can with badly maintained roads already? if we can it means more claims and even less money to be spent on new roads as they are busy paying for cars to be repaired due to poor roads, its a vicious circle which will ultimately lead to even more oney being wasted, sounds like all the other short sighted government policies,
 

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sounds like all the other short sighted government policies,
Is this a Government issue, if so when was this bill passed.?
 
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prprandall51

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Is this a Government issue, if so when was this bill passed.?

Yes, wet-gritting is a policy of the Highways Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Transport (Minister in Cabinet - Ruth Kelly). The specific bill in question is the budget - more properly known as the Finance Bill.

Every year the Government makes decisions about how it can use the finance bill to reduce spending on roads. The use of a money-saving wet-gritting technique is an example.
 
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Dieselman

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I thought gritting fell under County Coucil control. Is that incorrect.?
 

prprandall51

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I thought gritting fell under County Coucil control. Is that incorrect.?
I don't know - I am reading the bit about the Highways Agency from the original post. Never-the-less, County Councils usually make cost-based decisions in their policies because of central government pressure and influence. Furthermore, council is government - even if it isn't central government - so it seems that the statement "short sighted government policies" still stands.
 

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Traditionally salt is stock piled in the open though it contains a caking agent which forms a crust on the top surface to stop erosion of salt due to rain.

There has been a move to store salt in barns to keep it dry and to control its movement. The cost of these barns is astronomical.

Many local authorities are allowing Salt Union to install salt barns and store salt in these. They pay as they use the salt. Because the salt is dryish when this is distributed on the road it flies off easily. So they came up with the idea to wet this salt so that it sticks to the ground. Going back to square one!

All this started in the Scandinavian countries as they purchase very fine salt and if this is dry then it just flies off and they thus started wetting.

Commercial interests have really pushed hard among the local authorities and many have fallen into this illogical trap.

If research is showing that pre-wetting is causing increased corrosion then the salt solution on the road surface must be more concentrated than the traditional method thus pre-wetting must be placing more salt on the road with increased costs. What a farce!!
 

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While being appalled at the damage road salt can inflict on our vehicles, I should perhaps point out that any change to the system would probably increase costs and there is only one group of people who will have to bear this- those paying local authority/ income taxes! Road salting and gritting and snow clearing in the UK will always be a problem for motorists and those charged with keeping the traffic moving in adverse weather conditions. Living as we do in a predominantly maritime influenced climate its extremely difficult to decide the sort of budget to devote to "winter motoring" As car owners do you spend money on a set of winter tyres /wheels in anticipation of frost and snow which may only last a couple of days? As a local authority how much budget do you devote/set aside to road clearance- trucks/gritters/ snowploughs- stockpiling of road grit/salt---overtime payments to road crews? The Scandinavians and Austrians/Swiss generally have it easier since normally they can predict they will definitely get snow during the winter months.Thus their motorists/road authorities can confidently spend money knowing it will be needed.;)
 

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