Ash and soot from the wildfires on the West Coast have the potential to damage your car’s paint. With this situation in mind, we have rounded up these tips to help you protect your vehicle.
Park in a Covered Area if Possible
This might seem obvious but it’s worth pointing out. Whenever possible, park your car in a covered area such as a garage or a carport. As an alternative, you can use a car cover if you have one.
Other simple, common-sense steps include:
- Keep your windows and sunroof closed
- Run the AC on recirculate mode until the quality of outside air improves
- When air quality improves, run the AC on fresh or vent
What to Do if the Surface of Your Car Is Dry
Ash may damage automotive paint, so it’s important to remove it as soon as possible. Ash is more abrasive than regular dirt, meaning that it has a greater potential to scratch your car’s paint when rubbed against it. If your car is dry, wipe the surface gently using a long-handled car duster. Pay special attention to headlights and taillights to ensure maximum visibility. However, if the surface of your car is moist (due to dew or marine moisture), do NOT dust it off, as you may scratch the paint.
What to Do if the Surface of Your Car Is Moist (or if There Is Too Much Ash)
If there is too much ash, or if the ash mixes with dew or other types of moist, then you should wash your car using warm water, a microfiber towel, and a pH-balanced car wash. This last item is important because ash is highly alkaline (it has a high pH, or potential of hydrogen, level) so a balanced soap can bring the surface of your car to a neutral pH level, which is preferable.
Wear a mask when you wash your car and follow the tips we have given in previous posts: start at the top and work your way towards the bottom, use separate sponges to clean the rims and tires, and dry your vehicle with a microfiber cloth.
Pay Attention to Your Air Filters
Ash and soot can affect your vehicle in more ways than just the exterior. After the fires are over, make sure to have your ventilation filters inspected by a professional technician and have them replaced if necessary.
The windshield is one of the parts of your car more openly exposed to the elements, so it deserves special attention. If you haven’t changed your windshield wipers, change them now before cleaning the windshield. Check the wiper fluid reservoir to make sure it’s full, and spray your windshield before cleaning it to ward off scratches.
The Interior Matters as Well
Your strategy to protect your vehicle against ash should also include your floor mats and cloth surfaces, which you should vacuum thoroughly. Again, make sure to wear a mask while you work on your car.
Finally, don’t forget to wax your car once the air clears. Use a high-quality wax to ensure that the exterior of your vehicle is protected against dirt, grime, and other agents.
More Tips and Resources to Protect Your Car
Keep your ride always in top-notch condition with these posts that cover about every aspect of care and maintenance of your car.
- What is car detailing?
- How to clean your car rims
- 4 Tips to wax your car
- Don’t ignore cracked windshields!
- Protect your car from rust
At Inland Empire Autobody & Paint Inc. we have the expertise and the drive to always deliver great results. We take pride in our day-to-day workmanship and we work closely with our clients to satisfy their every concern.
We have locations in Moreno Valley and Riverside, California. Call us, contact us through our website or through our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get information about our services: Collision repair, custom paint, windshield replacement, rim repair, paintless dent removal, auto detail, complete paint jobs and more!