Summer 2014
Vehicles that leak oil and other fluids such as antifreeze, transmission or brake fluid are dangerous for us and bad the environment: When your car or truck leaks oil and other fluids, it’s often a sign of a larger problem.  Waiting to fix leaks can lead to engine damage.  If you ignore leaks and continue to drive your vehicle, you’re likely to end up with a more expensive repair bill.

Another reason to fix leaks is to protect the health of your kids and pets.  Oil and other vehicle fluids from cars are toxic.  Kids and pets love to play in puddles.  Fix your leak so the toxic stuff does not find its way to the places kids and pets play!

Not only does fixing vehicle leaks extend the life of your car and keep toxic materials away from kids and pets, it’s good for the environment.  Every year, more than 7 million quarts of motor oil drips out of vehicles onto streets and parking lots and mixes with rain water into stormwater runoff.  This runoff goes mostly untreated to our lakes, rivers, streams and Puget Sound.  Most of this toxic pollution comes from small drips from cars and trucks.

car dripSo how do you know if you have a leak?  Usually, the oily spot on your driveway or normal parking location is a good indication.  

Other leak detection events are being held at the July 27th Everett Aqua Sox game, and at Twin Rivers Park in Arlington on August 2nd.  Come on out and help us reach our goal of testing 3,600 cars in Snohomish County!  Check the City’s website for more dates and locations!

If you want to learn more about checking if your vehicle is leaking fluids, attend one of the free car leak workshops offered by Washington State Department of Ecology.  Your car can be inspected by a trained mechanic and you can learn the basics of car maintenance.  The workshops are being held at four community colleges (the closest one to Edmonds is at Shoreline Community College) to teach car owners how to detect leaks, and how to maintain their vehicles to decrease the frequency of leaks.  Go to the Don’t Drip & Drive website ( to register for your workshop!   

dont dump drainSo what is “Don’t Drip & Drive”?  It’s an award winning program organized by local cities, counties, and non-profit organizations interested in protecting water quality and the health of Puget Sound by reducing the pollution coming from leaking vehicles.  It’s funded by two grants from the Department of Ecology and Puget Sound Partnership.  At you can find lots of great information on how to detect leaks, what part of the car might be leaking, and finding a mechanic that can fix it.  There’s even a coupon for up to $50 off your repair at partner auto repair shops.

And since we’re talking about motor oil, we should discuss what to do with used motor oil.  As we’ve already mentioned, motor oil and other vehicle fluids are toxic to humans and the environment.  Most auto parts stores will accept used motor oil, or you can take it to a one of several Snohomish County facilities that accept used motor oil, oil filters, or other vehicle fluids.  Go to for locations and details.  Remember, it’s illegal to dump motor oil, or anything other than stormwater, into City of Edmonds storm drains.  Storm drains in Edmonds don’t go to the treatment plant, but flow to our local streams, lakes, and Puget Sound.

And what if there’s a spill?  Since our stormwater system connects to our local waterways and not the treatment plant, we can’t let the motor oil reach the storm drain.  Instead, we need to clean it up.  To start, use kitty litter or another absorbent (even soil will work) to soak up the spill.  Once all the oil is absorbed, sweep up the oil-soaked absorbent and place it in the trash.  To finish the job, use a little liquid dish soap mixed with warm water and scrub the spill area with a stiff-bristled nylon brush to remove the last bit of oil.  Use a rag to wipe up the liquid, and throw the rag in the trash (do not wash it down the storm drain!).  The same technique can be used to clean up drips from your driveway.

If you have any questions about car leak detection or the Don’t Drip & Drive campaign, contact Patrick Johnson at 425.771.0220 or

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