Auto Maintenance & Car Care

Safe Environment Practices and Procedures

  • Auto Body Shops
  • Auto Repair Shops
  • Car Dealerships
  • Gas Stations
  • Mobile Fleet Managers
  • Mobile Fleet Washing Businesses

Car Maintenance Problems

Many common car maintenance routines contribute to ocean pollution. Practices such as: washing cars and letting wash water flow into the street or pouring used motor oil into a gutter or storm drain pollutes the ocean. Water runoff from streets, parking lots and driveways, picks up oil and grease dripped from cars, asbestos worn from brake linings, zinc from tires and organic compounds and metals from spilled fuels. Through this runoff, these chemicals drain into the ocean harming sea life. Oil and grease, for example, clog fish gills and block oxygen from entering the water. If oxygen levels in the water become too low, aquatic animals die.


Best Management Practices such as handling, storing and disposing of materials properly can prevent pollutants from entering the storm drains.

Cleaning Work Sites

It is best to sweep regularly and only hose down your shop floor if it drains to the sewer through appropriate oil and sand traps. Use non-toxic cleaning products. Baking soda paste works well on battery heads, cable clamps and chrome; mix the soda with a mild, biodegradable dishwashing soap to clean wheels and tires; for windows, mix white vinegar or lemon juice with water.

Spill Prevention

Prepare and use easy to find spill containment and cleanup kits. Include safety equipment and cleanup materials appropriate to the type and quantity of materials that could spill.

Pour kitty litter, sawdust or cornmeal on spills. For disposal instructions, call 888-CleanLA (888-253-2652).

Leak Control

Regular maintenance prevents fluids from leaking onto streets and washing into storm drains.

  • Change fluids carefully. Use a drip pan to avoid spills.
  • Prevent fluid leaks from stored vehicles.
  • Drain fluids such as oil and radiator fluid from vehicles or parts kept in storage and dispose of properly.
  • Implement simple work practices to reduce the chance of spills.
  • Use a funnel when pouring liquids (like lubricants or motor oil) and place a tray underneath to catch spills.
  • Place drip pans under the spouts of liquid storage containers.
  • Clean up spills immediately by using dry methods.

Proper Fueling of Vehicle

Gas and diesel spills are common when fueling vehicles. To minimize pollution:

  • Design fueling areas so that all spills are contained and runoff cannot carry spills into storm drains. Equip the drain with a shutoff valve in the event of a large spill.
  • Cover the fueling area to keep rain from washing away spilled materials. Extend the cover several feet beyond the containment area.
  • Keep absorbent materials on-site to allow prompt cleanup of all spills.
  • Post signs instructing people not to overfill gas tanks.

Washing of Vehicle

  • Prevent oil, grease, suspended solids and toxics from washing into storm drains.
  • Designate a washing site where water drains to the sewer system (industrial waste permit may be required).
  • Wash areas must be paved and well marked as wash areas. Post signs prohibiting oil changes and washing with solvents. Train all employees to use the designated area.


Recycle what you must:

  • Section 25250 of the Health and Safety Code requires used motor oil recycling.
  • Section 25215 of the Health and Safety Code requires lead acid battery recycling.

Recycle What You Can

  • Container glass, aluminum, and tin
  • Metal scraps
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Used tires
  • Water-based paints

Employee & Customer Education

Raise both employee and customer awareness by following these steps:

  1. Educate your employees.
    Include water quality training in new-employee orientations and conduct annual review sessions.
  2. Educate your customers.
    Stencil storm drain inlets near the work place with the message "No Dumping: This Drains to the Ocean."