Burnaby, British Columbia – The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) is warning vehicle owners to take precautions to protect their cars from the soot and ash generated by the wildfires that are burning across the province. The fires can blanket vehicles with debris that may be soft but can cause damage.

Ash and soot are gritty and can be acidic, which can damage the paint, according to Allen Holmes, BCAA Auto Approved Repair Shop supervisor. “If not removed quickly and properly, your vehicle’s finish can end up looking dull and scratched. Accumulated dirt and soot can also stick to electrical components, u-joints and windows.”

Repainting a three-year-old, medium-size car can cost up to $4,500 for a quality job, BCAA said. Owners are advised to remove ash and soot as quickly as possible by carefully and thoroughly wash their vehicles, rinsing well before rubbing the car, and being mindful of water use restrictions.

“If vehicle windows are left open, smoke from nearby wildfires can also cause major interior damage and leave an irritating odour embedded in the upholstery,” Holmes said. “Car owners may not realize how difficult it is to clean the car’s interior from smoke damage.”

Depending on the make of vehicle and the amount of time exposed to smoke, professional shampooing and fumigating the interior can cost as much as $400 to $500.

BCAA also advises motorists in wildfire areas to drive with extra caution, watching for emergency vehicles and first responders. As with fog, drivers should turn on their headlights when visibility is reduced.

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