Will Volcanic Ash Damage My Car?

Motorists across the UK are being warned that the volcanic ash from the Icelandic eruption could damage vehicle paintwork.  Car care firm Autoglym has assessed the composition of the ash and issued advice on how to safely remove microscopic residues that have already been deposited, as well as protect a vehicle from subsequent fallout.

The ash – now prevalent in Britain’s upper atmosphere – is composed of tiny jagged shards of rock and glass.  Once the highly abrasive, acidic ash has fallen on cars, there exists a real danger of damage to paintwork, glass and even to wiper blades.

Furthermore, the sulphuric content of the ash means the deposits are more acidic than normal airborne dust, representing an increased risk of corrosion, especially for rubber door and window seals, wiper blades and tyres.

Paul Caller, Autoglym CEO explains: “We invest significant sums in researching the impact of road grime and extreme weather conditions on cars, but the fallout from volcanic ash creates an unprecedented challenge for our lab team.  The ash contains particles that are substantially larger, harder and more aggressively abrasive on paintwork and glass than normal atmospheric contaminants.

“We are concerned that, as many motorists get their buckets and sponges out for the first time in the warmer weather, they could unwittingly cause damage to their own vehicles, unless they take extra precautions when cleaning their cars.  Moreover, many forecasts suggest the eruptions will continue and therefore ash deposits may present a risk for weeks, so motorists must take steps to protect their cars from future deposits.”

Autoglym’s advice on dealing with volcanic ash deposits:

  1. Thoroughly soak car bodywork with water to loosen surface deposits
  2. Use a pH-neutral car bodywork shampoo solution to neutralise acidic fallout
  3. Use a number of smaller buckets rather than a single larger bucket to minimise the
  4. risk of ash particles being reapplied to bodywork on the sponge from contaminated water
  5. Keep the car wet with clean water while washing with a sponge – this keeps the surface of the paint lubricated to reduce the risk of scratching from any dust that remains on the bodywork
  6. Pay special attention to wiper blades – which may scratch the windscreen when sweeping ash across the glass surface – and side window seals – which may harbour dust that scratches windows as they are wound up and down
  7. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all shampoo from the car
  8. Dry the car using a high quality microfibre drying towel or synthetic chamois
  9. Apply a quality polish or high definition wax in order to provide a durable, long-lasting layer of protection, preventing further contaminants adhering to paintwork, and forming a barrier against acidic deposits
  10. Use a specialist automotive rubber treatment to cleanse and protect rubber seals, wiper blades and tyre sidewalls
  11. Wash frequently until the volcanic eruptions cease to minimise the risk of potential future damage
21 April 2010 Staff

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