Time to stop putting off that car wash – unless you want to be like one of the 22 million drivers who had to pay for car rust repairs over the past five years.
A new AAA survey shows U.S. drivers paid $15.4 billion to repair rust caused by rock salt and liquid de-icing chemicals during that time period, according to the study.
When the salts or chemicals cling to parts underneath the car, they can rust brake lines, fuel tanks, exhaust systems and other critical safety components, says John Paul, AAA’s Car Doctor and Senior Manager of Traffic Safety.
“While the application of de-icing salts and solutions is critical to keeping our nation’s roadways safe every winter, it’s important that drivers pay attention to warning signs that their vehicle may be suffering from rust-related damage,” Paul said. “This can be much more than a cosmetic issue; it can also create serious safety issues for drivers by impacting brake lines, exhaust systems, fuel tanks and electrical connections, as well as the structural integrity of some of these older vehicles on the road.”
If you notice in-dash warning lights for brakes or other critical systems, or a soft “spongy” feeling when applying the brakes, pull over immediately. These are malfunctions that could be related to car rust. They should be addressed immediately at a trusted repair facility.
Other warning signs include an unusually loud exhaust sound or the smell of gasoline when the car is running.
To help prevent expensive car rust repairs, consider the following.
- Limit driving before, during and after a storm, when chemicals are being applied.
- Frequently wash your vehicle, especially the undercarriage, where salt and other deposits tend to stick.
- Go to high-quality car washes that use premium solutions that won’t strip wax from your vehicle.
- Repair body damage and touch up paint scratches, which can rust.
- When spring arrives, give the car a good, thorough cleaning.
- Periodically have the undercarriage inspected for possible rust issues.
Want to make sure rust damage isn’t putting you at risk? Look up your local AAA Approved Auto Repair facility here, and pop in for a quick visit. For more on the benefits of car washes, click here.