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Car Maintenance

Those soapy suds are not clean!

When you wash your car in a driveway or street, the dirty water flows untreated into the nearest storm drain and then into local waterways. Auto fluid spills from leaks or regular car maintenance can also be carried into the stormwater system by rain, melting snow, or sprinkler runoff.

The Impact

The used water from washing your car can contain residue from exhaust fumes, gasoline, heavy metals from rust, and motor oils that build up on your car. The soap you use may also contain phosphates, which can cause excessive algae to grow in waterways. Auto fluids are toxic to aquatic life and the wildlife that drink from our streams.

Wash Your Car at a Car Wash

While it is not illegal to wash your car in your driveway, it is not a good practice. Commercial car washes direct used car wash water to treatment systems, and in many cases they recycle and reuse it. If you need to wash your car at home, washing it on the lawn is a better option than washing in the driveway because it allows the water to be absorbed into the ground.

  • Wash your car at a commercial car wash.
  • If you wash your car at home, do it on the lawn and use phosphate-free biodegradable soap or waterless cleaning products.
  • If you are planning a car wash fundraiser, ask a local car wash if you can use one of their wash bays.

Maintain your Vehicle

If a vehicle is not maintained it can leak fluids and contribute to water pollution. Those drips on the pavement will be picked up with the next rainstorm and carried to the nearest creek.

  • If you work on your own vehicle prepare your work area so spills are captured and cleaned up.
  • Soak up spills with cat litter or sawdust and place it in the trash.
  • Store hazardous auto fluids and waste indoors or in a sealed container to prevent spills.
  • Collect used oil, oil filters, antifreeze, and other auto fluids to dispose of at an auto shop or other facility.
  • Recycle used vehicle fluids and NEVER hose down any spills or your work area.

Check for Leaks

  • Regularly check your parking spot and driveway for evidence of leaks from your car and repair any car leaks promptly.

Changing the Oil

  • Use a funnel to prevent drips and spills.
  • Drain used oil into a clean container, never dump oil outside or down the drain.
  • Allow used oil filter to drain into oil pan for 24 hours.
  • Take used oil and oil filters to an auto shop or other facility that accepts these material.

Flushing the Radiator

  • Never dump antifreeze outside or down the drain.
  • Take antifreeze to an auto shop or other facility that accepts it for disposal.