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Take care when removing abrasive wildfire ash from your vehicle

Rinse with plain water.  Don't wipe with anything.  Avoid letting ash on car mix with rain.  KOMO photo

If your car got dusted with ash from the wildfires this week don't assume a simple run through the car wash will take care of everything. Here are a few things you can do this weekend to keep that ash from causing problems on the 'inside' of your car, as well as the exterior.

Auto experts say we shouldn't let ash sit on our cars for extended periods. And we definitely don't want to let the ash mix with rain water, which can realease chemicals that damage the paint.

The tiny specks of ash may 'look' soft and powdery- but they're not.

"Ash is very abrasive." said

Jennifer Cook of AAA Washington. "And it's also very alkaline, so you don't want to just dust off your car, you want to use as much water and soap as possible."

Start with plain water from the garden hose. That's the best way to keep the abrasive particles from scratching the paint.

And don't underestimate the ash on your windshield.

"Our automatic inclination is to throw on the wiper fluid and start wiping away," said Cook. "But don't do that. Because this is gritty. And you don't want to scratch your windshield."

Experts say if you want to avoid scratches and damage to your vehicle's paint finish, rinse the car very thoroughly, then clean the wiper blades before you swipe.

This is also a good time for most drivers to replace their windshield wiper blades, which tend to get worn down from extensive use during winter and spring months.

Finally- and here's what a lot of us overlook - make sure the ash isn't clogging up your air filters.

"After the entire wildfire season's over, it'd be great to change your filters and wax your car and give it that protective coat," said Cook.

And don't just check the air filter in your engine. Also check the venthilation filters in the passenger compartment.

Remember, dirty filters lower your fuel economy and increase emissions- and ultimately cost you more to operate your car in the long run.

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