What to know about wildfire ash falling on your car
Along with wildfire smoke comes wildfire ash, and that can have consequences for vehicles like cars and trucks.
“Ash residue will not harm automotive paint finishes as long as it remains dry,” said Mike Rafael with Seattle’s Mr. Detail, an auto detailing shop.
Wildfire ash is made up of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. While all that sounds like a great vitamin supplement, get ash wet and you have a “a serious risk of chemical etching” on your car’s paint job, Rafael said.
Keep in mind that cooler air, clouds, and a possibility of rain is expected by the end of the week and into the weekend. Some weather forecasts have moisture moving into the area on Thursday. By Sunday, the chance of rain increases. Rain is also possible the following week. Mixing that moisture with any wildfire ash can be a bad combination.
But Rafael said even fog can mix with ash left on a car. That can turn into calcium carbonate or potassium hydroxide. In short, ash mixed with water and left on your car is a bad combo.
“Which can have the same corrosive characteristics as drain cleaner,” Rafael said.
The auto detail expert recommends these tips when dealing with ash and cars:
- Treat your car like you should be treating your body during this time — keep it inside. Park in a garage while the smoke lingers, avoiding any ash. Keep windows closed. No garage? Use a car cover and anything that keeps ash off the vehicle’s painted surfaces and its wheels.