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Washington Waters  Ours to Protect

Car maintenance What you can do...

Car maintenance

Don’t leave a sheen.
Maintain your car.

Clean water is important to all of us. It's up to all of us to make it happen. In recent years sources of water pollution like industrial wastes from factories have been greatly reduced. Now, most water pollution comes from things like cars leaking oil, fertilizers from farms and gardens, and failing septic tanks.

Bonus points!

Proper car maintenance also helps you:
  • Save money because of fewer repairs and better gas mileage.
  • Prevent toxic chemicals from getting into our waters.
  • Support a healthy watershed.
  • Reduce your exhaust emissions and reduces your carbon footprint.

All these sources add up to a big pollution problem. But each of us can do small things to help clean up our water too. And that adds up to a pollution solution!

Why do we need clean water?

Having clean water is of primary importance for our health and economy. Clean water provides recreation, commercial opportunities, fish habitat, drinking water, and adds beauty to our landscape.

All of us benefit from clean water and all of us have a role in getting and keeping our lakes, rivers, marine and ground waters clean. What's the problem with motor oil?

Oil does not dissolve in water. It lasts a long time and sticks to everything from beach sand to bird feathers. Oil and other petroleum products are toxic to people, wildlife and plants. One pint of oil can make a slick larger than a football field. Oil that leaks from our cars onto roads and driveways is washed into storm drains, and then usually flows directly to a lake or stream.

Used motor oil is the largest single source of oil pollution in our lakes, streams and rivers. Americans spill 180 million gallons of used oil each year into our waters.

Drips don’t have to be a problem.

What will you do to help?

  • Change your motor oil and help keep our waters clean.
  • Stop drips. Check for oil leaks regularly and fix them promptly. Keep your car tuned to reduce oil use.
  • Use ground cloths or drip pans beneath your vehicle if you have leaks or are doing engine work. Clean up spills immediately. Collect all used oil in containers with tight fitting lids. Do notmix different engine fluids.
  • Never dispose of oil or other engine fluids down the storm drain, on the ground or into a ditch.
  • Recycle used motor oil. Many auto supply stores and gas stations will accept used oil.
  • Buy recycled (re-refined) motor oil to use in your car. To find out more about where you can take used oil for recycling, call the Department of Ecology's 1-800-RECYCLE line or the number in your community listed below.

When your car's leaking oil on the street, remember
it's not just leaking oil on the street.

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Don’t Drip and Drive: Fix That Leak!


Don’t Drip and Drive: Fix That Leak! Sign up now for spring workshops in the Seattle area
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Watch Dr Drip’s Tips for Preventive Maintenance. Seven do-it-yourself videos of car maintenance tips


Workshops, video and audio files about fixing car leaks