Q&A: Understanding the Nuts and Bolts of Automotive Repair

This Q&A includes questions from our webinar Understanding The Nuts and Bolts of Automotive Repair hosted on June 6, 2023.

1. What is wrong with the storage of drums/batteries/parts outside if they are in a covered area, on concrete/etc.

There is nothing wrong with properly stored wastes provided they are properly recycled or disposed of in a timely manner.  Liabilities increase when wastes are not properly managed and are allowed to enter the environment.

2. Should I avoid accepting an auto repair business as collateral altogether?

We would not recommend avoiding all automotive repair businesses as collateral; however, it is important to conduct proper environmental due diligence to evaluate the potential risks.  While environmental liabilities can be associated with automotive repair operations many are just fine.  The risk usually increases with the duration of operations or operations that occurred prior to environmental regulations and general awareness. Most of the automotive repair operations we inspect do not need further study.

3. How often do you find a concern at an auto repair business?

We find a concern at roughly 25-30% of automotive repair facilities.

4. What is the average cost to remediate a “dirty” auto repair business?

The cost can vary significantly.  It depends on the severity of the contamination.  For instance is the impact localized to soil?  Is groundwater impacted?  Did the contamination migrate off-site? Is the contamination resulting in a vapor intrusion issue with on-site or office structures?  Typical costs associated with investigating an automotive repair facility can be in the $8,000.00-$12,000.00 range. Remedial costs often range from $25,000.00-$125,000.00, but the actual cost depends on the various factors mentioned.  There often are multiple areas of contamination resulting from the oil/water separator(s), hydraulic lifts, parts washers, tanks, drums, etc.

5. Is there an age that hydraulic lifts typically fail?  Effective useful life?  If lifts are new (less than 5 years old)- is this a REC?

There is no industry standard as to the life expectancy of an inground hydraulic lift that we have come across.  A 5-year-old lift generally does not pose a concern.  The quality of the installation and material used to backfill around the piping underground components can affect the longevity of the lift system.  The risk increases with the age of the lift(s).  If the mechanics are indicating they are adding hydraulic oil to the lift system(s) that is a pretty good indication that there likely is a leak.

For the full recording of this webinar, please reach out to Liz Mahoney, Director of Sales & Business Development today.