The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) recommends that contractors carefully monitor and protect their outdoor construction vehicles and equipment during the California wildfire season. Ash and smoke from wildfires can damage a vehicle's exterior paint, especially if the vehicle is parked outside for a long period of time. It can also gunk up the air filters, inhibiting the vehicle’s performance and exposing drivers and passengers to harmful toxins inside the cab. 

The California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) and AAA recommend the following tips for maintaining vehicles exposed to wildfires: 

  • Do not let ash and soot accumulate on a vehicle as it can eat away at the paint and clear coat. When wiping down a vehicle, use only soft materials. Ash and soot are more coarse than standard dirt and can scratch a vehicle's surface as it’s being wiped away.
  • When washing a vehicle, rinse with water first, followed by thorough washing with soap. Make sure to dry the vehicle completely.
  • Consider changing a vehicle’s cabin air filter. If there are issues with the engine, consider taking it to a licensed auto repair shop. Use BARs Auto Shop Locator to find one near you.
  • Check and change the wiper blades should the vehicle need to be driven through ashy and smokey conditions.
  • If possible, keep vehicles in a garage or warehouse. Car covers are also a viable option.

To minimize exposure to the hazardous air throughout California during wildfire season, the CSLB encourages contractors to use its online services at or the automated phone line at 800-321-CSLB (2752) whenever possible.