Volcanic Ashfall Damages Millions of Cars in the Philippines: How To Protect Your Car

Philippine Automologist, Harold, consolidated tips from car manufacturers on how to protect your car amidst ashfall.

Image source: Carmudi Insider

What first appeared to be a joke by my friends on my birthday last January 12th turned out to be a massive disaster that has now affected over 1 million people in the Philippines.

Image source: of Ezra Acayan

At about noontime, my friends texted me to ask why I had orchestrated an elaborate firework display for my birthday, one that could be seen from some 50 kilometres away. It turned out to be Taal Volcano (some 75 kilometres south of Manila) erupting, throwing volcanic sulfuric materials some 15,000 feet into the sky. Within minutes, hundreds of thousands of people within a 20-kilometre radius from the volcano were thrown into a real panic. People scrambled to safety and streets were filled with fleeing cars, turning them into parking lots.

Image source: of Ezra Acayan

In a few hours, news reports showed houses, schools, hospitals, buildings, cars and golf courses covered, some buried, in ash. The air smelled of sulphur and people feared for their lives. Successive eruptions went on for about 24 hours coupled with hundreds of earthquakes and tremors of up to about 4.5-magnitude.

All flights arriving and departing from Manila airports were cancelled. My flight was among them. And everyone was glued to their TVs, radios and cell phones for updates, particularly those who have friends, family and properties in the affected areas. Government disaster mitigating agencies and relief organizations scrambled to the area.

Image source: Carmudi Insider

The next day, people within a 75-kilometre radius from the volcano realized that a thick layer of ash had fallen on the roof of their houses and cars (for those parked in open areas).

Image source: Carmudi Insider

Over 1 million cars were affected. Those who did not know what to do wiped the ash off their cars, leaving scratch marks on their car surfaces. The worst thing is that almost all car manufacturers and stockyards are within 20 kilometres of the volcano and hundreds of thousands of brand new cars were damaged. The metal parts, particularly chrome parts of new cars, had sulfuric materials sticking to them and can’t be removed by simple water or soap. Just this type of damage on chrome parts is estimated to cost carmakers and distributors over 1 billion pesos to clean and/or replace.

Image source: Ezra Acayan

So, for those whose cars are affected and in preparation for yet other eruptions as the volcano is still on Alert Level 4—meaning there could be imminent eruption any time—here are useful tips I’ve gathered from carmakers and distributors:


-Use pressurized water to blast off ash without damaging your paint.
-Avoid wiping while removing ash with water. This may cause ash to graze the paint on your vehicle


-Lift wipers from the windshield, soak in water and clean off the ash with care.
-Carefully clean window seals and other rubber components to avoid scratching glass.
-As with paint, wash off the ash from glass completely using pressurized water before wiping.


– Have your car air conditioning systems checked; in most cases, filters need to be changed. Some need cleaning of the entire AC system.


-Due to ashfall on streets, it is advisable to have your engines and underparts washed every week. If your car does not have rust-proofing, it would be good to have it done as the ash from Taal Volcano is very sulfuric and corrosive.


-Avoid driving amidst heavy ashfalls.
-Park inside covered garage if possible.
-Use car covers when parking outside.
-Use N95 Mask when entering the 25-kilometre radius of Taal Volcano.
-Please see your Doctor immediately if showing symptoms of respiratory problems.

Image source: Ezra Acayan


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