AAA: Products used to de-ice roads costing drivers billions

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HARTFORD —  With only a few weeks of winter left, AAA said millions of Americans will cough up a hefty penny for rust damages caused by the chemicals used to de-ice roads.

AAA said over the past few years, many state and local transportation departments, including Connecticut, switched from using rock salt to liquid de-icers to combat ice and snow on the roadways.

Despite the newer way in dealing with slippery roads is more effective, AAA said, they cause more damage to cars because chemicals remain in liquid form longer and, are more likely to cover and seep into cracks and crevices where rust begins to form.

AAA said a total of $3 billion annually will be spent in vehicle rust damage to seventy percent of U.S. drivers.

“This is much more than a cosmetic issue, it’s a safety issue” said Amy Parmenter, AAA spokesperson in greater Hartford. “Rusting caused by road de-icers typically affects brake lines, exhaust systems, fuel tanks and electrical connections critical to a vehicle’s performance”.

Body shop manager Sal Milardo at Victor’s Auto Body Works in Middletown, said vehicle rust is an issue he sees every year.

“This is a problem we see all the time and it’s gotten worse over the years. The damage done by de-icing solutions is extensive and expensive,” said Milardo.

AAA is warning drivers to act fast in order to prevent rust-related vehicle issues that can cause damage to brake lines, fuel tanks, exhaust systems and other critical car components. Any driver driving with in-dash warning lights for brakes, a “spongey” or soft feeling when applying pressure to the brake pedal, loud exhaust noises or the smell of fumes or the smell of gasoline while the car is running or parked, is advised to not drive on the road and take it to a trusted repair shop.

Pothole damage is another issue to drivers, according to AAA. In a recent survey, they found that nearly 30 million U.S. drivers experienced pothole damage that resulted in car repair in 2016, with the cost of repair ranging from $250 to more than $1000.

AAA said in order for this issue to be resolved, more funding is needed to keep up with the ongoing care of the country’s roadways.