Remove Fire-Related Ash And Soot From Your Vehicles: BCAA

BURNABY, BC, July 20 2009 – Smoke-filled air fuelled by forest fires could be as damaging to your car as to your lungs warns the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA). Smoke, soot and ash from the wildfires will rule the skies for days, and the debris is falling like a constant mist and blanketing vehicles, possibly damaging paint and contributing to operational issues.

“Since the automobile is the second largest monetary purchase after the home, car owners want to make sure they maintain their vehicle’s paint finish to maintain the car’s value,” says BCAA Road Assist Director, Ken Cousin. “It’s important to remove ash and soot from vehicles as soon as possible to prevent any unsightly damage.”

BCAA offers these tips to fire-affected vehicle owners:

  • Whenever possible, put the car in the garage or cover it.
  • If you can’t do either, gently wipe off the vehicle with a long-handled car duster. Starting from the roof and working your way down, you may find that you will have to do this two or three times to really get the bulk of ash and soot off the vehicle.
  • If washing the vehicle at home (abiding by local water use restrictions), wet a soft mitt, towel or sponge and wash the vehicle with warm water and formulated car wash. Start at the roof and work your way down and around the panels. Rinse vehicle thoroughly and dry with a soft clean towel or chamois.
  • Once the car is cooled down from the warm water wash and is completely dry, apply a coat of car wax and wipe off (per the instructions) with another soft cloth. Car wax helps protect the finish against ash as well as hard-water spots and rain.
  • Keep the air intake area – located at the base of the windshield – clear of pine needles, dirt and dust, as it can get into a vehicle’s interior through air conditioners and heaters.
  • After the fires are over, inspect and, if necessary, replace the engine air filter and have mechanics inspect and replace ventilation filters in the passenger compartment. A dirty air filter can restrict fuel economy and increase vehicle emissions.
  • Keep the sunroof and windows closed. Outside of the fire areas, run the air conditioner on “recirculate” until the outside air quality significantly improves. Once the air quality is better, set the air conditioner on “fresh” or “vent” so you’re moving outside air inside. If the interior smells like smoke, vacuum and add a vehicle air freshener to mask the odor.
  • Headlights should be on at all times, especially in reduced visibility. Drivers should also plan trips carefully and as little as possible, as streets could be busy with emergency crews.

BCAA is committed to providing security and peace of mind to people on the road and at home and reminds its home insurance policyholders who have been affected by the forest fires to call the 24-hour emergency claims service at 1-800-719-2224, or visit a BCAA Sales Centre.

About BCAA

BCAA is dedicated to meeting the needs of its members and customers throughout B.C. and the Yukon, connecting them with a team of membership, automotive, travel and insurance professionals. With over 793,000 members and $130 million in revenues, BCAA is the largest organization of its kind in B.C. and the fourth largest CAA-affiliated association in Canada. For the past three years, BCAA was named one the 50 Best Employers in Canada by international HR consultants Hewitt Associates and the Globe & Mail’s Report on Business magazine. To learn more about BCAA’s products, services and member advocacy, visit For more information on the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation visit