- Fire extinguisher spray can damage car paint if it contains corrosive or abrasive chemicals, such as ammonium phosphate, halon, or sodium bicarbonate.
- Fire extinguisher spray can also cause corrosion inside the hood or crevices of the car, affecting the electrical system and the metal structure.
- To prevent fire extinguisher damage to car paint, it is best to remove the spray residue as soon as possible using water, soap, and cleaning agents.
- Some types of fire extinguisher spray can be neutralized with vinegar and hot water, while others may require professional cleaning or repainting.
What Types of Fire Extinguishers Can Damage Car Paint?
Fire extinguishers are essential tools for putting out small fires and preventing them from spreading. However, not all fire extinguishers are suitable for use on cars, as some of them can damage the car’s paint job.
Fire extinguishers are classified according to the type of fire they can extinguish. There are six main classes of fire:
|A||Fires involving ordinary combustible materials, such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, and plastic.||Trash can fire|
|B||Fires involving flammable or combustible liquids, such as gasoline, oil, paint, and solvents.||Engine fire|
|C||Fires involving energized electrical equipment, such as wiring, appliances, computers, and circuit breakers.||Electrical panel fire|
|D||Fires involving combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, sodium, and potassium.||Metal shavings fire|
|K||Fires involving cooking oils and fats, such as vegetable oil, animal fat, and grease.||Kitchen fire|
|E||Fires involving electrical equipment that is not energized. This class is not recognized in the US, but is used in some other countries.||Battery fire|
Fire extinguishers are also labeled according to the type of extinguishing agent they contain. There are five main types of fire extinguishers:
|Type||Color Code||Extinguishing Agent||Suitable for Class|
|Water||Red||Water or water with additives||A|
|Foam||Cream||Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) or film-forming fluoroprotein (FFFP)||A and B|
|Dry Powder||Blue||Sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, ammonium phosphate, or other powders||A, B, C, and D|
|Carbon Dioxide (CO2)||Black||Carbon dioxide gas||B and C|
|Wet Chemical||Yellow||Potassium acetate, potassium citrate, or potassium carbonate solution||K|
Some fire extinguishers are multi-purpose and can be used on more than one class of fire. For example, an ABC dry powder fire extinguisher can be used on class A, B, and C fires.
However, not all types of fire extinguishers are safe for car paint. Some of them contain chemicals that can corrode or scratch the paint surface if they are not removed quickly. These include:
- Ammonium phosphate: This is a common ingredient in ABC dry powder fire extinguishers. It can leave a yellow or white residue that can damage car paint if left for too long.
- Halon: This is a gas that was used in older fire extinguishers for class B and C fires. It is no longer widely used because it depletes the ozone layer. It can also damage car paint by reacting with moisture and forming hydrochloric acid.
- Sodium bicarbonate: This is a common ingredient in BC dry powder fire extinguishers. It can leave white dust that can scratch car paint if rubbed or wiped off.
Other types of fire extinguishers may not damage car paint directly but may cause other problems if they get inside the hood or crevices of the car. These include:
- Foam: This can clog the air intake or cooling system of the car and affect its performance.
- CO2: This can freeze the electrical components or metal parts of the car and cause them to crack or break.
- Wet chemical: This can react with metal surfaces and cause corrosion or rust.
How to Clean Up Fire Extinguisher Residue from Car Paint?
If you have used a fire extinguisher on your car or someone else’s car, you should clean up the residue as soon as possible to prevent any damage to the paint. Here are some steps you can follow to remove fire extinguisher residue from car paint:
- Identify the type of fire extinguisher that was used and the type of residue it left. You can check the label on the fire extinguisher or the color of the residue to determine this. For example, if the residue is yellow or white, it may be ammonium phosphate. If it is white and powdery, it may be sodium bicarbonate.
- Rinse the car with water to remove any loose residue. Use a garden hose or a bucket of water and spray or pour water over the affected area. Do not use a high-pressure washer, as this may force the residue deeper into the paint or damage the paint surface.
- Wash the car with soap and water to remove any remaining residue. Use a mild car wash soap and a soft sponge or cloth to gently scrub the affected area. Do not use any abrasive cleaners or tools, as these may scratch the paint. Rinse the car with water again to remove any soap residue.
- Apply a cleaning agent to neutralize or dissolve any stubborn residue. Depending on the type of fire extinguisher that was used, you may need to use a different cleaning agent. Here are some examples:
- For ammonium phosphate residue, you can use isopropyl alcohol diluted 50% with warm water. Spray the solution on the affected area and let it sit for several minutes. Then wipe it off with a damp rag.
- For sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate residue, you can use vinegar and hot water [^10^]. Mix 2% vinegar and 98% hot water in a spray bottle and spray it on the affected area. Let it sit for several minutes and then wipe it off with a damp rag.
- For halon residue, you can use baking soda and water. Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 gallon of water in a bucket and dip a sponge or cloth in it. Wipe the affected area with the solution and rinse it off with water.
- Dry the car with a microfiber towel or a chamois cloth to prevent water spots or streaks. Do not use any paper towels or cotton towels, as these may leave lint or fibers on the paint.
- Inspect the car for any signs of damage or corrosion. If you notice any discoloration, fading, peeling, cracking, or rusting on the paint, you may need to have your car repainted or repaired by a professional.
Fire extinguisher spray can damage car paint if it contains corrosive or abrasive chemicals, such as ammonium phosphate, halon, or sodium bicarbonate. Fire extinguisher spray can also cause corrosion inside the hood or crevices of the car, affecting the electrical system and the metal structure.
To prevent fire extinguisher damage to car paint, it is best to remove the spray residue as soon as possible using water, soap, and cleaning agents. Some types of fire extinguisher spray can be neutralized with vinegar and hot water, while others may require professional cleaning or repainting.