Damage from smoke and ash extends beyond personal health and safety

BELLEVUE, Wash. — As wildfires continue to burn throughout the Pacific Northwest, filling skies with smoke and harmful soot, AAA is offering advice on preventing vehicle damage.

At the top of the list of steps to protect your vehicle — wash it, by hand, with a pH balanced car wash soap. While the ash may appear soft and somewhat fluffy, it is a gritty and abrasive substance.

“You need to hand wash your vehicle because once the water makes contact with the ash, it becomes corrosive. You must be gentle when initially removing that layer of soot,” said AAA Washington’s Kelly Just. “Once you do that, you can take it through the car wash.”

Additional Steps:

  • If possible, park washed vehicle under cover or use a car cover.
  • If washing the vehicle is not an option or it is between washes, gently wipe off ash with a soft car duster or cloth.
  • Resist the urge to clean a windshield by turning on the wipers and scratching the glass. Instead, replace or wipe down each blade and wet the windshield before adding in wiper fluid and using the wipers.
  • Thoroughly vacuum vehicle floor mats and car surfaces.
  • While driving, run the air conditioner on re-circulate until the outside air quality significantly improves.
  • Depending on where and how much you have driven recently, the vehicle might need the air filters in the engine or passenger areas cleaned or replaced. Ask a trusted mechanic to check them the next time you visit the shop.
  • When the smoke clears, add an extra layer of protection to your paint by waxing your vehicle after washing it and letting it cool down