February 21st, 2017 by Jessica Souto
ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2017) – As the end of winter approaches, millions of Americans will face pricey vehicle repairs from rust damage caused by chemicals used to de-ice roadways. According to a new AAA survey, U.S. drivers paid an estimated $15.4 billion in rust repairs caused by de-icing methods over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion annually. AAA warns drivers, especially the 70 percent (150 million) who live in areas affected by snow and ice, to take action to prevent dangerous rust-related vehicle damage to brake lines, fuel tanks, exhaust systems and other critical vehicle components.
“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,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “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.”
AAA strongly urges drivers who experience any of the following vehicle malfunctions to immediately move the vehicle off the road to a safe location and have it towed to a trusted repair facility.
- In-dash warning lights for brakes and other critical systems.
- A “spongey” or soft feeling when applying pressure to the brake pedal.
- An unusually loud exhaust sound or the smell of fumes in or around the vehicle.
- The prominent smell of gasoline or diesel fuel when the vehicle is parked or running.
In recent years, many state and local transportation departments have shifted from using rock salt to liquid de-icers to combat ice and snow on the roadways. 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. 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.
“In the last five years, 22 million U.S. drivers have experienced rust damage to their cars due to salt and liquid de-icers,” continued Nielsen. “In addition to the safety risk, repairs to fix these problems are often costly, averaging almost $500 per occurrence.”
While some rust damage is unavoidable, AAA recommends drivers take the following preventative steps in order to reduce the possibility of vehicle damage:
- When possible, limit driving immediately before, during and after winter storms when salt and de-icing solutions are being applied and are at their highest concentrations.
- Frequently wash your vehicle, paying particular attention to the undercarriage. This will loosen, dissolve and neutralize road salts. Many drive-through car washes offer an undercarriage rinse as an option.
- Always use a high-quality car wash solution, not a household dish detergent that will strip the wax from your vehicle.
- Repair any body damage and touch up paint scratches and chips that expose bare metal which could lead to rust.
- Before the start of winter, thoroughly wash and clean your vehicle prior to the start of winter and apply a coat of wax to protect the finish.
- Give the entire vehicle and undercarriage one last cleaning in the spring. Any deposits left over from winter can continue to cause corrosion year-round if not properly removed.
Pothole damage is another concern for drivers, as snow and ice melt and roadways begin to crumble. A new AAA survey found that nearly 30 million U.S. drivers experienced pothole damage significant enough to require repair in 2016, with repair bills ranging from under $250 to more than $1000. To address this issue, AAA believes that more funding is needed to keep pace with critical repairs and ongoing maintenance of the nation’s roadways.
When pothole or rust damage occurs, it is imperative to choose a reputable repair facility. The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network includes nearly 7,000 facilities which have met AAA’s high standards, including, certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits such as priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/AutoRepair.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
October 13th, 2009 by AAA
As part of AAA Car Care Month, the motor club offers tips for vehicle upkeep that improve appearance and resale value
(Orlando, Fla. – 10/13/2009) When many motorists think of vehicle maintenance, the first things that comes to mind are oil changes and other engine upkeep. However, the steps to maintaining a vehicle, and its resale value, extend beyond what is under the hood.
“Motorists can extend the life of their vehicle’s interior and exterior the same way they take care of its mechanical parts—through proper maintenance,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Auto Buying Services. “Forms of vehicle upkeep that are frequently thought of as cosmetic care can reduce wear and tear and help maintain a higher resale value.”
AAA recommends motorists perform the following maintenance tasks:
- Vacuum regularly and lightly shampoo the carpets as needed. Dirt remaining in the carpet greatly accelerates wear, but be careful not to soak carpets with too much moisture.
- Use floor mats to protect carpet. Carpeted floor mats will collect dust and dirt and are best for dry climates, while protective vinyl floor mats are recommended in wet and snowy areas.
- Wipe down dusty or soiled surfaces with a damp cloth. Follow with a UV-protective coating on vinyl and rubber surfaces. A solution with a matte or semi-gloss finish is preferred on the dashboard to reduce reflections in the windshield. Be careful not to apply petroleum-based products to plastic surfaces; especially clear ones. If the interior has leather, use products designed for cleaning and maintaining this material.
- Clean stains from seats and other interior surfaces promptly to prevent them from becoming set. Use a cleaner recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer to prevent fabric, vinyl or leather damage. Test any non-approved product in an inconspicuous spot before use to make sure it is safe.
- In hot and sunny climates, consider having the windows tinted to cut down on infrared rays that cause heat buildup and ultraviolet rays that fade and damage interior materials. Over-darkening windshields and front seat windows can compromise visibility and is frequently illegal, so use appropriate materials.
- Use protective flooring and seat covers when transporting pets or items with sharp edges that could gouge upholstery or carpeting.
- Wash the vehicle approximately every two weeks and wax it twice a year. More frequent washing and waxing could be advisable depending on climate and driving conditions. A good coat of wax looks great, protects the finish from contaminants it comes in contact with, and contains filtering chemicals that help reduce paint fading from the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
- When washing the vehicle, be sure to rinse out the wheel wells and accessible areas of the undercarriage. This is especially important where salt is used on roads in the winter as it will help prevent rust.
- Use care when removing bugs and tar to avoid damaging the clear coat or paint. Auto parts stores, such as NAPA Auto Parts, carry specialty products that can ease removal without causing damage. AAA members qualify for discounts at all NAPA locations by showing their membership card.
- Clean glass inside and out to ensure good vision. Use a product that does not leave streaks or cause glare.
- Have small windshield chips repaired to prevent them from becoming cracks that require complete windshield replacement. Most such repairs can be made easily by an auto glass technician coming to the vehicle’s location.
- Consider headlight restoration if the headlight lenses have developed a frosted yellow surface. This repair process restores a clear finish to the lens, which improves both vehicle appearance and nighttime vision. Do-it-yourselfers can purchase restoration kits at auto parts stores for approximately $20. Commercial services will typically do the job for between $50 and $100.
Another easy way to improve the resale value of a vehicle is by saving all of its maintenance records. Motorists can be as organized as keeping them in a file or just stuffing them the glove box. Either way, being able to produce a record of proper maintenance and repairs during ownership of the vehicle can add hundreds of dollars to a vehicle’s sales price. Also, most repairs come with some form of warranty, and documentation of the repair will be needed to support any warranty claim that might arise.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.