We can keep pollution out of our creeks, lakes, rivers and Puget Sound. Our small actions add up to a BIG difference for Puget Sound, the Salish Sea and marine life!
When it rains, pollution from cars wash into storm drains, and then straight into local streams, lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound. Pollutants like oil, car wash soaps and chemicals, and bits of tire dust are bad for water quality and harm people and wildlife, like salmon and orcas, that depend on clean water to survive.
Take your car to a commercial car wash. Commercial car washes, both tunnels and bays, are required to treat their dirty wash water.
If using a commercial car wash isn’t an option, wash your car in a grassy area. The grass and soil will soak up the wash water, preventing it from running down the street into a storm drain.
When you wash your car, the rinse water contains harmful pollutants like oil, grease, heavy metals and soaps. If you wash your car on the street or in your driveway, the pollutants run on the street and into the storm drain, and then flow with little to no treatment into our local creeks, lakes, rivers and Puget Sound. That’s why in many communities it’s illegal to let that soapy water enter a storm drain.
Planning a fundraising car wash?
Car washes that send soapy water to stormwater systems contribute pollution to the Puget Sound. Many local commercial car wash operators offer fundraising programs that allow groups to sell car wash tickets. Pierce County encourages you to reach out to a local operator to explore that option, rather than host your own fundraising car wash.
Take these steps to maintain the health of your vehicle and the environment:
- Check your vehicle for leaks regularly and get them fixed promptly. Learn how to diagnose or fix a leak.
- Properly recycle or dispose of all used batteries, motor oil, antifreeze and brake fluid at a facility designed to accept household hazardous waste. Visit PierceCountyWa.gov/hhw to find a location near you.
- Use ground cloths or drip pans if you find a leak or are doing engine work. Clean up spills immediately using a dry absorbent, such as kitty litter, then sweep up and put in the garbage. Don't allow the absorbent to be washed down a drain.
Even a small oil leak can have a big impact on your car and our creeks, lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound. Every drop on your driveway means a shorter lifespan for your car. Plus, oil and other petroleum products are toxic to people, wildlife, and plants.
Proper tire maintenance will extend the life of your tires and save you money.
● Keep tires properly inflated so that they will wear down more slowly. Check your tire pressure once per month, either with your own pressure gauge or at a gas station air pump. You can find the recommended tire pressure in your owner’s manual, stamped on the tire itself, or on a sticker inside the driver’s side door.
● Get your tire alignment checked and rotate tires according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Proper alignment and regular rotation prevent uneven wear on your tires, reducing the amount of tire particles that wear off as you drive.
Car tires have many chemicals that help protect them from damage. As we drive, the tires wear down, leaving tiny bits of tire behind on our roads. The chemicals in the tire bits are toxic to fish. When it rains, the runoff picks up the tire bits and carries them down storm drains and into our waterways.
Scientists recently discovered an ingredient in tires called 6PPD-Q. It’s used to preserve tire rubber, but when it reacts with ozone in the air, it transforms into a new chemical that’s highly toxic to coho salmon.
Taking care of your tires is the best thing drivers can do to reduce wear and prevent tire pollution.