Tips for taking care of your car during smokey weather and record heat

Between extreme heat and smokey ash particle fallout from wildfires, cars are having to work harder than ever. These days regular maintenance for vehicles may not be enough. To ensure your car isn't negatively impacted by fire season and the climate, here are our technicians top tips:

Air Filter

The first thing that takes a hit after a fire is your engine's air filter, which acts like your car’s respiratory system. Air filters are relatively cheap to change, but are important because they prevent the rest of your engine from working extremely hard.

You can do a visual inspection of the filter yourself or get a technician to check if it’s white or light gray that means you’re in good shape. If it’s dark gray or caked with sediment that means it’s time to swap it out.

Cabin filter

Your cabin filter is what keeps the air inside of your car clean and filters out pollutants like pollen, smoke, ash and allergens. After smokey fire season or record heat, if you notice a campfire type of smell in your vehicle, that means it’s time to change your air filter in order to maintain fresh air in your vehicle. You can also run your heat and air-conditioning on recirculate in order to avoid your engine sucking up smoke, ash and sediment from outdoors during poor air quality days.

Oil & Fluids

At peak heat, fluids are your car’s hero. Oil works overtime during hot and smokey conditions so while it’s usually changed on a mileage or time based schedule, car owners who ended up driving often during smokey or peak hot days may want to consider changing their oil sooner than your scheduled maintenance calendar. If the air filter is the lungs of the car, the oil is like the lifeblood of an engine. It decreases friction and keeps expensive engine parts from wearing down. You want your car to be a "well oiled machine" and tiny smoke particles in the air can interfere with oil’s viscosity, making it harder for your engine to run. You’ll also want your technician to check your fluids such as coolants - a the mixture of water and antifreeze in your radiator will keep your car from overheating. It should be replaced every two years, and topped off to appropriate levels during a heatwave. And while you’re at it, consider that most vehicles need their brake and transmission fluids swapped every 50,000 miles, and topped off regularly for optimal vehicle performance. You can ask your technician to fill up your fluids once they’re under the hood.


If your vehicle’s been driving through ash, pollution and soot, it can end up working overtime. Have a professional wipe down the radiator carefully. You don’t want to pour water under your hood, just wipe it down and address any soot and ash buildup by rinse outside of the vehicle.


Check your tires for excess inflation as hot weather can cause uneven air pressure increase, just like cold weather can deflate tires when air molecules shrink. While your technician checks tire pressure, they can also do a visual inspection of your tire’s to check for rubber and tire damage, as tires can become more sensitive to shredding during hot weather.

Wash your car

If you can’t keep your vehicle in the garage to avoid outdoor smoke, be sure to gently wash down your car with lukewarm water in the evening to avoid carbon particles from baking into your car’s paint coat in the sun. Ash and smoke in the air can cause car paint to deteriorate at an accelerated rate compared to normal conditions.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Related articles

What Does the Dirty Air Filter Warning Light Mean?
The dirty air filter warning light turns on when their is reduced airflow to the engine, which affects your car's gas mileage and performance.
Top 3 Reasons Engine Oil Gets in the Air Filter
Engine oil should never be in the air filter. Depending on how it got there, minor or major repairs may be needed.
What are the Best Nationwide Oil Change Service Centers?
Top oil change and maintenance chains in the U.S.

Related questions

No oil on dipstick and slightly lower oil pressure
Hello. If you are checking the oil at the dipstick and it is being added to the correct area then you more than likely have a serious internal sludge issue. If there is a lot of sludge then the oil...
Knocking engine already change the oil but still doing it
Hello there. Engine knocking is a serious problem with your 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer. The most common cause of engine knocking is low engine oil. You did well by replacing the oil first. Other likely causes of engine knocking are low...
I have to keep adding oil
Hello. I will assume you are talking about the engine oil ( If there is no visible oil spots on the ground after the jeep has been sitting for short period look at the color of the exhaust smoke. If...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 ·