There is no way to avoid the heavily damaging chemicals used to clear roadways in wintery weather. Understand the nature of these compounds and learn some preemtive measures to take to keep your trucks lasting longer.



Minimizerfloor mats wrap around your cab floor and contours each angle keeping chemicals and filth off the floor.

During a Task Force Meeting on cab and control corrosion, at TMC’s 2016 Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition, Tim Brune, task force chairman and technical director of Automotive International, said, “We are seeing a lot of corrosion happening in cabs.” In fact, cabs get hit twice by the corrosive chemicals on the roads today. The first is by the spray that comes up off the road and hits the underside of the cab. However, the corrosive chemicals are also introduced into the interior of the cab on the shoes of drivers. Drivers get in and out of their trucks a number of times a day and as

a result track whatever is on the ground into the cab. It’s bad enough having snow and ice combined with the deicing chemicals. But the problem is made worse because of the hygroscopic nature of these chemicals. Hygroscopic material continues to draw moisture from the air even in seemingly dry environments, according to Identification and Laboratory Assessment of Best Practice to Protect DOT Equipment from the Corrosive Effect of Chemical Deicers. In addition as the driver’s shoes dry out the remnants of the deicing chemicals get sucked into the cab’s HVAC system and then get recirculated

throughout the cab where, because of their hygroscopic nature, they continue to attract moisture.

Several attendees of the Task Force session said when they rolled up cab rugs on two to three year old trucks the floor had almost been eaten away by corrosion. However, the floor itself is not the only item that gets damaged by corrosive deicing chemicals in the cab. Seat belt mounts and retractors can also be damaged. But perhaps even more important than that is the damage to electrical wiring and

connectors that run under the carpet. During the TMC Task Force meeting, one attendee said that within six months corrosion had destroyed a $4,000 sensor. The Task Force’s advice was to inspect all sealed connectors in the cab because once moisture gets in the cab it gets in the wires. As one meeting attendee put it, “We want to protect as many items as we can because deicing chemicals are not going away.”


That is the amount of chemicals applied to U.S. roads each year, according to a reserch paper titled Identification and Laboratory Assessment of Best Practices to Protect DOT Equipment from the Corrosive Effect of Chemical Deicers.

Most highway departments have switched to chloride deicers such as calcium chloride and magnesium chloride to keep roads passable in winter weather. And while these compounds do a good job of keeping the roads clear, they also pose a significant corrosion risk to commercial vehicles.

Metal, including in that truck cabs, is very vulnerable to these more aggressive deicers. Before we look at what these deicers do to cab floors and what can be done to protect them, it’s necessary to understand the nature of these deicing chemicals. In an article in Transport Topics, Peter Johnson, professor in the Occupational and Environmental Exposure Sciences program in the School of Public Health at the University of Seattle, is quoted as saying, “A number of scientific studies have shown an association between exposure to vehicle-related whole body vibration and the development of health problems.”


Over the past decade state highway departments have switched from using sodium chloride on roads to calcium chloride and magnesium chloride which are said to be more effective because they provide lower freeze points, cost less and are less harmful to the environment as well as less corrosive to concrete.

In addition to switching chemical formulation, they have taken to spraying road surfaces before storms hit and mixing the deicers with things like sugar beet juice or vegetable oil to improve adhesion to road surfaces. The first thing you need to know about calcium chloride and magnesium chloride deicers is

that they are hygroscopic which means they are good at attracting moisture so much so that it converts to a liquid brine. In addition, when the deicers are dissolved in water they release heat.

In his blog, Dave Budd, vice president of product development and marketing at Great Lake Chloride, said, “Ice melter speed of action is determined by how easily it dissolves when exposed to snow or ice to form a brine solution. This brine lowers the freezing point of water to melt additional snow and ice on contact.” It’s easy to see why highway departments now prefer calcium chloride or magnesium chloride because they have all these characteristics.



“You buy those cheap rubber [mats], they wear out in a month. I’ve had these over a year and they look brand new.”

Fleet owner & Minimizer customer

Even if the floor of the cab does not rust through as a result of the corrosive nature of today’s deicing chemicals, the fact that they get dragged into the cab on the bottom of drivers’ shoes means the cab interior is going to take a beating and lose some of its appeal. Worn or dirty looking cabs can be a deterrent in a fleet’s efforts to attract and retain drivers. It is no secret that the trucking industry is in the midst of a severe driver shortage one that is expected to get worse in the future given that the current average age of a driver is 49, according to the American Trucking Associations 2015 Truck Driver Shortage Analysis. One of the report’s findings says, “If the current trend holds, the shortage may balloon to almost 175,000 by 2024.

While the top three reasons drivers give for leaving a fleet are the opportunity to make more money elsewhere, more time at home and issues with supervisors, the condition of the vehicles they drive also plays a role.

Many fleets are experiencing driver turnover rates of more than 100%. Brad Ackerman, president of K & K Transfer, whose trucks have an average life cycle of between 48 and 60 months says there will be eight to 10 different drivers in the truck over its useful life. What that means for him is having to clean the cab interior after a driver leaves to make the truck attractive to the new driver. It can be a time consuming process to get the cab floor clean after it has been subjected to deicing chemicals and general wear and tear.

“It was money well spent, I’d recommend them to anybody. They’re just that good.”

Fleet Owner & Minimizer customer


In an effort to protect cab floors, many fleets invest in rubber mats. Unfortunately these mats may not do a good job of keeping the floor beneath them clean and free of the corrosive deicing chemicals.

Recognizing the importance of keeping cab floors clean and protected from corrosion and other debris, Minimizer designed a textured and grooved floor mat made of a proprietary thermal-plastic. Each mat is customized for the make and model truck it will be installed in. Company engineers use technology to scan interior measurements and angles to ensure the floor mat is a perfect fit for the cab. The mats are also designed to be easy to install. A retention hook is designed to keep the mat in place. “These mats put that dirt and mud just where they’re supposed to be,” owner/operator Mike Elnicky said. “The best part is Minimizer’s custom fit. The design just wraps around the pedals and contours, keeping carpeting clean and filth off your floor.”

Ackerman has purchased hundreds of the floor mats. He says the raised edges of the mats contain the mess compared to carpet mats or traditional rubber mats. In addition, he says is easy to the clean the mats in as little as 30 seconds with a pressure washer. He says he saves two hours of time in cleaning the mats not to mention the savings in the cost of having to use a detailing shop with typical hourly rates of $60. Over the life of his vehicles, he says he is saving $1,000 per truck since he switched to the Minimizer floor mats.

Fleets that lease their equipment have shared that they have been hit with $500 to $2,000 per unit fines for dirty carpets and other in-cab wear and tear. The use of Minimizer floor mats will help ensure there are no fines at the end of a lease. And for fleets that own their own trucks and are focused on total cost of ownership, the value of a truck at trade in has taken on increased importance. Trucks that look good inside and outside are likely to bring more at trade in time or on the resale market.

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