Deal with Taal ashfall - Keeping your car clean during a volcanic event

Jan 14, 2020 | Same topic: Handy maintenance tips
Now Taal is spewing harmful volcanic material, what should you do? Read on for tips and tricks on how to stay clean.

The Philippines, particularly Central Luzon, was rocked over the weekend as one of the most scenic and most visited tourist spots in the in Batangas, the Taal Volcano erupted and spewed a large pillar of ash, smoke, and volcanic material to almost a kilometer high up into the atmosphere.

It was a tragic, catastrophic natural disaster that prompted a large scale evacuation of the area. It caused heavy ashfall in the general Central Luzon Area which not only affects the number coding scheme in some areas but also makes people's lives more inconvenient by caking the roads, buildings, and cars in a think layer of seemingly fine ash.

As a car guy, the first question that came to mind for most of us was: “How am I supposed to clean this?”.

volcanic ash on mitsubishi mirage

After Sunday this will be our new short term reality (Pic from Bryan Bien)

The chemical composition of any volcanic eruption depends on the chemical make-up of the location of the eruption itself. The principal chemicals in action during an eruption are hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride, sulfur dioxide carbon dioxide, and water.

Once they reach the atmosphere these chemicals break down and get deposited into the ashes of the explosion which is primarily made of silicate, the same chemical element that makes up the glass.

ash on black car

Little shards of glass (Pic from Aaron Kasilag)

Glass, people. Although they feel soft and almost powder-like to the touch those are actually microscopic shards of glass out to scratch your car infused with the power of those scary-sounding chemicals I said earlier.

driving in volcanic ash conditions

It's difficult to drive in these conditions (Pic from Tabz Montalbo)

I had to take a few minutes from writing this article because I thought I smelled burning. As it turned out it was my brain overheating from all those chemistry 101 class notes, but back to cars. We care so much about you taking care of your hard-earned cars.

With PHIVOLCS reporting that this event can take up to 7 months, you can expect your car to be doused in ashfall every time you park it and head off and drive so here are a few tips for you to keep in mind!

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Water is your friend

First and foremost, do not simply wipe off the car, no matter how tempting it can be. Wet and soak the car’s body thoroughly before you even touch it. Remember that this is an almost pure powdered silicate that can cause micro-scratches that can prove to be permanent.

Use a power-washer to quickly wash away the ash from the bodywork. Keep it wet whenever you wash your car, to provide enough lubrication.

girls powerwashing car

Keep things wet and lubricated to wash away dirt and ash

>>> Read more: A guide to car wash services in Metro Manila: Price list, Contact details & More

Mind your wiper blades

In the event of heavy ash-fall while driving you to fight your urge, no matter how hard it may be to activate your wipers. These ash materials are tough enough to scratch that glass as it is made up of the same materials!

They are also fine enough to penetrate the sealants on your side mirrors to enter the door panels. Apart from the fact that driving in ash-fall is really dangerous, it is best to park the car at a safe location and wait for it off. Better be safe than sorry.

maintain wiper blade

Keep your wiper blades well maintained for best performance

>>> Relevant article: [Philkotse guide] Tips and tricks of cleaning the windshields

Cars need shampoo, too (Sorta’)

The acidity of ash-fall cannot be overstated. It isn’t just like normal ashes strewn on the car from your neighbor’s dumpster fire, we’re talking about volcanic rock trapped under the earth for billions of years, superheated and underwent intense pressure.

Soaps and detergents that have a balanced pH work the best with volcanic ash. Visit the nearest automotive shop and any good sales rep worth their salt can help you with it.

soap on dodge challenger

pH Balanced detergents counteract the acidic ash

>>> Make sure you know: 10 must-have car care products

Mom knows best: Rinse well

Remember as a kid, getting out of the shower with soap everywhere and your mom telling you to get back and rinse everything thoroughly or was that just me? Make sure you get all the soap and detergents out of the body workout properly. Rinse twice if needed.

This is where the power wash machine comes in handy. It gives you more control over the stream of water to make sure all the soap and ash deposits are old news.

rinsing honda civic well

Rinse the car well to wash away every bit

Don't cheap out on towels

You’ve bought the best tools, the most expensive soaps and wax for your car but decided to cheap out on chamois. That’s a noob move. High-quality microfiber towels are pricier than your average “good morning” towels because they are specifically designed to wipe and dry your car without scratching it.

It was a higher thread count and is re washable too so it is a good investment. No use ruining your paint that costs almost P100,000 over 10 pesos towels.

>>> FYI: How to protect your car from scratch: 6 easy ways to know

high quality towel drying car

Premium towels are worth it in the long run

Wax on, wax on

Adding another layer of protection with the wax and polishing compound is a great idea. You can apply the wax yourself and polish with a lot of elbow grease but I wouldn’t blame you if you choose to have it applied professionally.

Wax adds another layer to the paint protecting it not just from the acidic rain and ash but you are assured of a nice shine gleam. Add rubber treatment to the sealants as well, its better to be safe than sorry.

wax and buffing red car

Applying wax professionally is a good way to protect your shine

Get a high-quality car cover

Unless you have a closed garage to park your car in, getting a high-quality car cover is a must on your next “to-buy” list. After you wash your car and have it properly detailed, it is almost a must that you get a car cover.

You also have to make sure your car is absolutely clean before you put the cover, the same goes for the cover. It’s additional work but a little brushing on the cover should do the trick.

muscle cars in car cover

The Cherry on top to protect your cherry paint

>>> Also read: Top 3 waterproof car covers during the rainy season

All of the above, REPEAT

No one said that owning a car will be easy especially at a time like this when volcanic eruptions and ashfall are occurring. If you truly want to protect your car’s finish you have to stay vigilant about it. So keep in mind that washing your car will be a habit you will have to pick up, not just during this volcanic event, but all the time.

owner loving their car

Caring for your car is hard but very rewarding

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Source: Roy Robles