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Smoke, ash from forest fires bad for your car: 'What it's going to do is eat clear coat'

Two things to watch out for: Air filters clogged with debris - and ash that can damage your car's clear coat and paint. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - The smoky air and ash are not just bad for your health: they are also affecting the health of your car.

The question is: How do you safely remove it?

"Leave it to the professionals," said Devin Hansen, owner of Versionex Auto Body in Eugene.

Hansen warned that brushing the ash off can scratch the paint.

And washing it off can cause even bigger problems, if not done properly.

"It's going to activate the ash that is on your car and create something called potassium hydroxide," Hansen said. "And once that's wet, what it's going to do is eat clear coat."

Hansen said if you let water sit on the ashy surface long enough, that could ruin your paint job.

Hansen recommends washing it yourself or taking it to a car wash, but focus on drying it completely when you are done.

The inside of your car needs some special care as well.

"Don't ignore it. It's very important," said Sreedhar Thakkun, owner of Autobahn Imports in Eugene.

Thakkun said a dirty air filter can hurt your car's gas mileage, and cause even bigger problems down the road.

"It's going to clog up that mass air flow center filament and damage it," Thakkun said. "And that's not going to be cheap."

Your cabin air filter also needs to be cleaned.

Thakkun recommends doing a simple "shake test" by removing the filter and shaking it out. If you see any dust, Thakkun said, it is time to replace it.

Thakuun said the cabin air filter regulates how much smoke you are breathing in, and that can directly impact your health.

"Particularly if your grandpa is riding in it or young kids are riding in the car. It's really important that it be replaced," Thakkun said.

Autobahn Imports does not sell air filters, but Thakkun said they can cost between $10 to $80 depending on what car you drive. Thakun said he wants to help the elderly or families with children by installing your new filter free of charge.

"This community has taken care of me in all these years," he said, "so it's time for me to give something back to the community."

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