BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's become a common sight -- waves of sand whirling and whipping across Highway 90. What many drivers may not realize is the tiny grains can damage the body of your car, especially if you park along the beach for long periods of time.
"Basically it can eat it away. There's a clear coat on your paint jobs," said David Poulos, Manager of Poulos Tire and Auto in Biloxi. "You've probably seen where the hoods have turned white. A lot of that is sun. But we see some of it. The sand will do it on the bumpers and things like that."
Poulos also pointed to the windshield of an SUV. There were specks of sand embedded in the glass.
There is also damage you don't see right away. If you're driving and notice that your car isn't as powerful as before, or that your brake system is making some strange squeaking noises, that could be caused by sand. That means it's time to check under the hood.
"Sand is very abrasive," said Poulos.
He said sand can easily collect in air filters. Clogged filters can restrict air flow, which can lead to other problems.
"It can get into the brake pads, can get into the calipers, causing a caliper stick, can cause premature bearing wear by getting into the pulley system, as far as doing some deterioration on belts," said Assistant Service Manager Steve Hughes.
Sand can also affect the sensors in your car, giving you false readings. The managers said sand rarely gets into the internal engines of cars.
Regular maintenance is the key to keeping your car in good shape. They recommend that you keep the moving parts greased, change your filters every 6,000 miles, and wax your car regularly to help protect the paint from the sand blasting.
The extent of any damage to your vehicle depends on how long it's been exposed to the sand.