Auto experts explain how to protect your car from ash

Experts: Ash mixed with water can form corrosive chemical, damage paint

Even if you live dozens of miles away from the wildfire, you may have noticed ash on your car.

According to automotive experts, ash is bad for your car, and when mixed with dew or light rain, can form a chemical that can eat away at your vehicle's paint job.

So if you want to clear the layers of ash, or bugs, from your car, there are several steps you need to take to avoid damaging the paint. 

News4Jax on Friday spoke with Charles Holt, an owner of Charles and George's Car Wash, to find out more about how you can protect your car.

"As long as it's dry, it's not dangerous. But once you have a light dew or a heavy dew or a very light rain, when it gets wet and it's still on the car, it becomes alkaline and alkalinity can damage automotive paint," Holt said.

Of course, Holt encourages you to get your car washed, but now more than ever. If you don't have time to visit a car wash, he said, do it on your own.

"You can just dust it off. They say don't wipe it off because it could be gritty and put a scratch in your car," Holt said. "Some people have used a feather duster to dust it off, but washing it would be the best solution."

Some auto experts said the ashes on your car have potassium in them, so when mixed with water, that forms potassium hydroxide, which can be as corrosive as drain cleaner.

Keshia Mitchell said she's isn't taking any risks with her new car. 

"This is the third time the smoke has been thick and it turned my car, like, gray," Mitchell said. "I got my car washed, like, three times this week."

Though the cost of the car washes is adding up, Mitchell thinks it's worth it.

"Three times $15 a pop -- it's better than getting a paint job," she said. 

The owners of Charles and George's Car Wash said they want to help people protect their cars. But if you do decide to wash it on your own, they encourage you not to use dish soap or detergent, but something that is made specifically for cars.

If the wildfires continue and the ash increases, the owners said, it wouldn't hurt to get a cover for your car or keep it in a garage. 

If you do plan on washing your car soon, the Weather Authority said it will be cool enough Saturday morning for dew to form, and the next best chance of rain will be later in the day or Saturday evening.