Burnaby, British Columbia – The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) is warning owners that smoke from the province’s forest fires can damage vehicles, and that preventative maintenance can reduce further problems.

“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,” said Ken Cousin, BCAA Road Assist director. “It’s important to remove ash and soot from vehicles as soon as possible to prevent any unsightly damage.”

BCAA offers these tips to owners affected by soot:

– Whenever possible, put the car in the garage, or cover it.

– If you can’t store it, gently wipe off the vehicle with a long-handled car duster, starting from the roof and working your way down. You may have to do this two or three times to 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, starting at the roof and working down. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean soft towel or chamois.

– Once the car is cooled and completely dry, apply a coat of car wax and wipe off with another soft cloth, as per directions.

– The air intake is located at the base of the windshield. Keep it clear of pine needles, dirt and dust to prevent it getting in through the air conditioner or heater.

– After the fires are over, inspect and replace the engine air filter if necessary. Have a mechanic inspect and replace ventilation filters in the passenger compartment. A dirty air filter can reduce fuel economy and increase emissions.

– Keep the sunroof and windows closed. Outside of fire areas, run the air conditioner on recirculate until the outside air quality significantly improves. Once it does, set the system to “fresh” or “vent.” If the interior smells like smoke, vacuum it and use an air freshener.

– Keep your headlights on, especially in areas of reduced visibility. Plan trips carefully and drive as little as possible, as streets could be busy with emergency crews.

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