Top bacterial hotspots in the car

November 2, 2012 12:00 AM

As cold and flu season rapidly approaches, more and more people will be trying to protect themselves against germs that spread sickness. While washing hands may be a good start to preventing illness, there are several parts of a car that can be hotspots for bacteria.

A study conducted by Ford and the University of Michigan found that the areas of a car's interior that drivers touch the most are the biggest bacteria hotspots. Locations like the steering wheel, console buttons and cupholders all had high populations of microbes.

"We weren't surprised to find microbial hot spots on the steering wheel, since that is where a driver's hands are most of the time," said Cindy Peters, a technical expert at Ford. "The console area near the cupholders is a common location for spilled drinks, so it provides an ideal breeding ground for microbes."

The findings indicate that cars and trucks can be a breeding ground for bacteria, many of which can cause odors, discoloration or sickness. Americans already spend more than $1 billion annually on air fresheners, lotions and wipes for vehicles, but investing in auto repair to add interior paint with special coatings inhospitable to germs can help to cut down on overall bacteria. 

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