Auto Shop

Automotive Service Facilities

Oil, grease, antifreeze and other toxic automotive fluids need to be properly managed so that they don't end up polluting the environment. Vehicle fluid spills should never be washed into the storm drain or into the sanitary sewer (sinks, toilets, etc.). Water that runs off sidewalks, alleys, and street gutters flows into storm drains, which flows directly to the Bay or Ocean without treatment of any kind!

Follow these best management practices to prevent pollution, protect public health and avoid fines or legal action.


Storing Hazardous Waste: Keep your liquid waste segregated. Many fluids can be recycled via hazardous waste disposal companies if they are not mixed. Store all materials under cover with spill containment or inside to prevent contamination of rainwater runoff.


Don't store leaky vehicles or equipment outdoors. Never leave oil, antifreeze, or other materials in drip pans or open containers.Do! Drain fluids from leaking or wrecked vehicles.
Store fluids and wastes indoors or in closed, labeled containers with proper secondary containment.

Proper Disposal of Hazardous Waste: Recycle used motor oil and oil filters, antifreeze and other hazardous automotive fluids, batteries, tires and metal filings collected from grinding/polishing auto parts. Contact a licensed hazardous waste hauler for recycling.


Cleaning Auto Parts: Scrape parts with a wire brush or use a bake oven rather than liquid cleaners. Arrange drip pans, drying racks and drain boards so that fluids are directed back into the sink or the fluid holding tank. Do not wash parts or equipment in a parking lot, driveway or street.


Preventing Leaks and Spills: Place drip pans underneath to capture fluids. Use absorbent cleaning agents instead of water to clean work areas.


Metal Grinding & Polishing: Keep a bin under your lathe or grinder to capture metal filings. Send uncontaminated filings to a scrap metal recycler for reclamation. Store metal filings in a covered container or indoors.


Don't wash vehicles where washwater and debris flow into stormdrains.Do! wash vehicles in a designated area - covered, bermed & drained to sanitary sewer through an oil/water seperator.

Washing vehicles: Wash vehicles where the wash water can soak into grass, gravel or be diverted to nearby landscaping, away from the street and storm drains. Wash vehicles at a designated wash rack that is connected to the sanitary sewer or take vehicles to a professional car wash. Use soaps, cleaners and detergents that are labeled phosphate free or biodegradable. The safest products for the environment are vegetable based or citrus-based soaps.


Cleaning Spills: Follow your hazardous materials response plan, as filed with your local fire department or other hazardous materials authority. Be sure that all employees are aware of the plan and are capable of implementing each phase of the plan. Use dry methods for spill cleanup (sweeping, absorbent materials, etc.). To report serious spills, call 911.


For more information about auto services view or download:

Vehicle Service Facilities (English) [984 KB]

Vehicle Service Facilities (Spanish) [988 KB]

Automotive Service Poster: Protect Our Bay & Ocean! (English) [589 KB]

Automotive Service Poster: Protect Our Bay & Ocean! (Spanish) [592 KB]

Automotive Service Poster: Protect Our Bay & Ocean! (Chinese) [1,480 KB]

Pollution Prevention Practices for Automotive Service and Repair Shops [24 KB]

California EPA Fact Sheet on Antifreeze Recycling [204 KB]

Automotive Recyclers Association - Stormwater BMPs for Auto Recycling [website]

Best Management Practice Guide Retail Gasoline Outlets [link]


San Mateo County Phone numbers



Local Hazardous Waste Regulator
(Certified Unified Program Agency - CUPA)
The San Mateo County Environmental Health Division is the CUPA for all areas of San Mateo County and can be reached at: (650) 372-6200.



Sanitary Sewer Treatment Authorities (pdf) All discharges to sanitary sewer must be approved by your local sanitary sewer treatment authority.