Ice/snow buildup on fender/wheelwell liners causing damage

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by alw, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. alw

    alw Junior Member

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    My wife and I have had repeated problems with the plastic fender/wheelwell liners collecting huge buildups of snow and ice. The large blocks become so heavy that they take the liners with them when they fall off. If the liners are not replaced, an even larger block of ice builds up inside the entire fender, damaging mechanical parts or wiring. Also, the ice buildup grinds against the front wheels and tires when making a turn.

    The buildup is worst under certain nasty winter weather conditions, when roadway slush starts to freeze and stick to everything. Over the years, we have lost 2 sets of liners, and we are about to have a 3rd set installed by a body shop, a nontrivial expense.

    We are interested in using some kind of spray or wiped-on coating on the plastic liners, to keep the snow from adhering and freezing in place. Vegetable or edible oils oxidize and become sticky, and petroleum oils may or may not be compatible with the plastic. We’re looking for something that isn’t too messy, won’t spread or migrate elsewhere, and doesn’t need to be reapplied frequently.
     
  2. Air_Boss

    Air_Boss Senior Member

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    Rain-X (silicone wax) spray works. Aquapel (fluoropolymer) does not, solely for bonding to glass.
     
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  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

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    How long does it take to build up? If it's within one day I guess chemical intervention is need. I'm just thinking if it's multiple days accumulation maybe a heat gun or something? Bit of a chore though.
     
  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    mine fall off in the garage. teflon spray? i use pam on my snow shovels.
     
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  5. StarCaller

    StarCaller Senior Member

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    same thing here/
    never gave it a shot on the fender liners..../
     
  6. alw

    alw Junior Member

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    We live in an urban environment, without private parking or access to an electric outlet.

    The ice buildup can develop in a little as 15 minutes of driving under the worst-case weather. These conditions don’t occur that often, but they are a real pain when they do occur.
     
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  7. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Could this set have electric heat tape installed on the 'blind' side during installation? Or some loops of thin tubing you could plumb into the engine cooling system?

    -Chap
     
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  8. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    radiant heat fender liners!(y)
     
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  9. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    This sounds like creating an opportunity for ice damage to extend to the engine too, after ice takes out that warming loop.
     
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  10. alw

    alw Junior Member

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    Re-engineering the fender liners for heat sufficient to melt ice isn’t really an option, since it would consume a lot of energy. The fact that I’ve never heard of an OEM or aftermarket fender liner heating system implies that this isn’t very practical, either. I’m looking for a chemical coating method to keep the freezing slush from sticking to the plastic fender liner.
     
  11. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

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    You can get heated vests and gloves for motorcycle riding. Maybe repurpose one of those? I'd think that'd be too expensive though. Yeah, Pam.
     
  12. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    How would you expect it to "take out that warming loop"? Same way it takes out the other coolant hoses in the car?

    I'm not sure how much, really. The aim wouldn't be to melt the whole 40 lb blob of slush that attaches there, but only to keep that interface layer right at the liner surface above 32 F. A coolant loop or electric heat tape would both be ways of getting the heat there; the electric option would be a bit easier to instrument if curious about how much energy might be involved.

    And yet one does see advertisements for intake hose swirl thingamajigs and grounding kits for the (isolated ground!) throttlebody. :) I'm not sure there's such a simple relationship between what's marketed and what's practical or useful.

    After all, up until now, I hadn't heard of the problem either, not at anything like the severity you describe. I get winter slush blobs, yes, but never to the point that I've had to replace a fender liner even once. If I were dealing with it at that severity, I sure would be thinking of some way to combat it.

    What I've been doing here, so far, is I have a small pump-up garden sprayer. I fill it with windshield washer antifreeze (not the glycol stuff, just the plain methanol variety), so it doesn't freeze in the sprayer while stored in the back of the car. When parking after a slushy drive, I can use it to spray and kick the slush blobs off the wheels and fender liners. (It also serves as my spare jug of windshield fluid when I need to refill the car's washers.)

    That's simple. But a solution that just involved circulating warm antifreeze, instead of spraying a bunch of it out into the environment, could be even better.

    -Chap
     
  13. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

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    Maybe google "heat trace"? But that stuff is 120 AC I think.
     
  14. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    Dupont (and others) makes a Teflon spray lube available at home stores. It's popular in the motorcycle world as a chain lube and thrives in that tough environment; however, I have no clue how beneficial it would be in a freezing environment. It doesn't harm paint so spraying it around the inner fender area shouldn't be an issue.
     
  15. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    maybe try silicon, teflon or pam. she sticks, and shovels off the slush before it can freeze.
     
  16. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    The other coolant hoses are well protected from the wheel well environment.

    I'm expecting certain conditions where it simply can't put out enough heat to do the job. Especially in a Prius, where the engine shuts down on certain long grades coming down from the mountain passes. So when OP's liners get loaded with enough freezing slush to rip out the liners, the warming loop houses go with it, allowing engine coolant to be pumped onto the ground once the engine fires back up.
     
    #16 fuzzy1, Oct 21, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
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  17. 5 Speed

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    I wonder if fluid film would work? It is a paraffin based product that is designed to be sprayed under vehicles to prevent rust from forming and it stays attached pretty good here is what their website states

    The Most Versatile Product for Winter Maintenance
    Equipment utilized in the course of winter is vulnerable to the natural and fabricated elements that surround the season. Inclement weather and road salts are highly destructive to metals and electrical connections. Vehicles traveling through salted roads face a constant barrage of highly corrosive chemicals used for road stabilization. These chemicals kick up and cling to metals and underbodies, re-crystallizing as they dry.

    FLUID FILM will not freeze, remaining active to migrate on metal surfaces. Penetrating metal pores, FLUID FILM creates an airtight seal that blocks road salts and moisture. Remaining slick in sub-zero temperatures, FLUID FILM is an excellent release agent for snow, helping to keep snow and ice from building up or sticking to metal. FLUID FILM is also the perfect product for winterizing equipment stored indoors and out.

    Care should be taken around non oil resistant rubber goods. May cause swelling. Fluid Film may soften some vehicle undercoatings. Check with dealer/vehicle manufacturer as to compatibility.
     
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  18. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Now that there sounds like it might do the trick. At least I'd be interested in hearing a post-Boston-winter report....

    -Chap
     
  19. alw

    alw Junior Member

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    I had never heard of Fluid Film. Thanks for pointing it out!

    It seems to be a mix of lanolin and possibly some petrochemicals or solvents. It is recommended for coating metal surfaces, and not recommended for rubber. I will look for an MSDS for additional clues about its overall properties.

    The Prius fender liners are definitely some kind of plastic, possibly polyethylene, but I’m not sure. I can’t check until I get a third set installed.

    I would appreciate it greatly if somebody could get a strong flashlight and scan their Prius fender liners in oblique lighting for small triangular Recycling codes - Wikipedia, and tell me the number and/or letter abbreviations.

    Once I know the fender liner material, I can contact the Fluid Film manufacturer and ask about compatibility.
     
  20. alw

    alw Junior Member

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    After doing some more online research, my wife and I have decided to try a sprayed-on coating of Fluid Film for our newly-replaced fender liners. The lanolin-based spray is recommended by the manufacturer for treating snow blowers and similar equipment, to reduce snow and ice buildups.

    Wish us luck with our prospective experiment! We have barely begun winter weather yet (first snow has already melted), so the most severe tests are yet to come. We will report back on our results as they develop...
     
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