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Safety with Vehicle Chemicals

The next time you take your car in for a car service, spare a thought for the mechanic who has to work with a lot of dangerous chemicals when servicing your vehicle. It might serve as a timely reminder too, because you should exercise the same caution every time you perform some sort of maintenance on your vehicle.

It’s easy to underestimate the dangerous nature of the various fluids and chemicals that go into a regular vehicle service. There are literally dozens if not hundreds of proprietary products that have been specifically designed for a particular purpose, and each of these is to be treated with due respect.

From the simplest things such as car wash right through to the more complex fluids that go into the braking system or engine coolants, you need to exercise care for yourself but also especially for any children who may venture near the places where you store these fluids at home.

Let’s take a look at some of the chemicals that are involved and examines the reasons why you should be extra careful.

  • Car wash. Although this is a gentle detergent that is specifically designed to enhance the paintwork of your vehicle is still contains chemical agents. This means the detergent should be stored in an area away from children’s reach and be treated with the respect they require. Even if you visit your mechanics service area you will find every chemicals stored safely in locked containers to avoid illegal or unregulated use.
  • Oils. It goes without saying that synthetic or natural oils that are used in vehicle lubrication systems should always be used and handled with care. At home, it’s important to keep them away from the reach of children and do not use them for any other purpose other than that for which they were designed. You should always be careful to store them in the appropriate containers, which generally means protecting them from sunlight, so that they maintained their lubricant properties as long as possible. Remember that all fluids have a shelf life which needs to be observed too.
  • Engine cleaning chemicals. Most engine cleaning chemicals and other commercial cleaners may contain hydrofluoric acid which can be dangerous if it comes in contact with your skin. This acid is specifically used in wax removing products and for cleaners used on spoke wheels and in some drive-through car washes. Always use protective gloves when handling these potentially dangerous products.
  • Aerosol cleaners. Some cleaners used in minor auto repairs contain dangerous chemicals in the form of solvents. Inhalation of these dangerous vapours can affect the central nervous system and cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and other symptoms similar to intoxication. These products should only be used in protected environments where there is adequate ventilation.

Although it seems like simple common sense to take adequate steps and protect yourself from these potentially dangerous products, it is surprising how many drivers ignore normal safety precautions when servicing their motor vehicles themselves.

Do yourself a favour and next time you take your car in for an auto service check out the safety standards that apply and try to replicate them in your own home.

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