De-Icing Solution Can Cause Expensive Rust Damage to Vehicles

winter driving graphic

Remember To Wash Your Vehicle After This Week’s Winter Weather

Winter weather, including snow, ice and sub-freezing temperatures could impact North and Central Texas later this week, according to the National Weather Service. Millions of Americans face expensive vehicle repairs from rust damage every year, and the chemicals used to de-ice roadways can be one of the main culprits. AAA Texas advises motorists to be proactive to prevent dangerous rust-related vehicle damage to brake lines, fuel tanks, exhaust systems, and other critical vehicle components.

Washing your vehicle in the winter, especially after roadways are treated for ice and snow, is critical to avoiding costly repairs down the road,” says Daniel Armbruster, spokesperson for AAA Texas. “Over time, rust can not only cause cosmetic issues, but serious safety issues if components on the underside of your vehicle become damaged.”

While some rust damage may be unavoidable, AAA Texas 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 de-icing solutions. 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 possible body damage and touch up paint scratches and chips that expose bare metal which could lead to rust.
  • 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.

AAA Texas 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 AAA Approved 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 running or parked.

Additional Winter Driving Safety Tips from AAA Texas:

  • Use your seatbelt every time you get in the vehicle.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage. In fact, modern vehicles do not require idle time prior to driving.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
  • Never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.

Additional information on driving in winter conditions can be found at How to Go on Ice and Snow.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 62 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of independently owned motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, AAA has been a leader and advocate for the motorist and safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: