AAA warns that newer liquid de-icers are much more damaging to cars than traditional rock salt.
Roadway de-icing chemicals cause an estimated $3 billion worth of damage to US vehicles each year, according to a new AAA survey.
The study suggests US drivers paid around $15.4 billion in rust repairs caused by de-icing methods over the last five years. The chemicals are said to affect 70 percent of US drivers, or 150 million citizens, who live in areas affected by snow and ice.
Damage from rock salt is well known among drivers, particularly in snowbelt regions, but AAA warns that alternatives such as liquid de-icing solutions are can be much more damaging.
"These newer alternatives are more effective than traditional salt because they can be applied before a snowstorm, have a lower freezing point and melt ice and snow faster," the study authors say. "However, these same characteristics can be even more damaging to vehicles since the chemicals remain in liquid form longer and are more likely to coat components and seep into cracks and crevices where corrosion can accelerate."
Though some rust damage is unavoidable, AAA has a few recommendations to reduce potential trouble. Tips including avoiding driving immediately before, during or after storms when salt and de-icing solutions are applied at the highest concentrations. Drivers should frequently wash vehicles, including the undercarriage, to remove and neutralize corrosive residues, while any small chips or scratches should be repainted quickly to avoid rust.
"Give the entire vehicle and undercarriage one last cleaning in the spring," the report adds. "Any deposits left over from winter can continue to cause corrosion year-round if not properly removed."
The AAA is also lobbying for more infrastructure funding to fix potholes, which caused damage to an estimated 30 million vehicles last year alone.