Updated at: 09-08-2022 - By: Lucas

A modern car contains a number of circuits and implicitly electric cables in addition to the technical equipment. Every day, many unexpected fires are recorded on various cars around the world, whether they are old or new. So, in order to answer the title question, we must first learn some vital facts about automobile fires.

Why do cars catch fire?

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We’re not talking about planned fires here, but rather about innocent accidents. It should also be noted from the start that only cars with factory defects or very poor maintenance work, particularly on electrical difficulties, can catch fire.

According to the US Fire Administration, approximately 70% of car fires have no relation with a fuel leak, as we believe in most situations. The primary cause of car fires is insufficient wire isolation.

For many causes, whether it is an overcrowded cable or improperly located wires in places with high friction, the insulation may deteriorate and, at some point, they will short circuit.

Most of the time, in the event of a short circuit, the fuss is over and done with. However, there are times when all of the prerequisites for a fire are met, and then the nightmare begins. Many fires, for example, start from the carpet and the plastic on the board. The wire has been short-circuited, it is incredibly hot, and the carpet’s delicate fibers are ablaze. In the case of an onboard electrical installation, high heat ignites the insulation, insulating tape, or soundproof sponge, but also the glue.

However, why not fuel leaks?

Because every pipe, gasoline tank, pump, and so on are strictly inspected before the automobile leaves the assembly line, and are composed of high-quality materials.

Most of the time, gasoline ignites owing to the usage of damaged hoses, a loose pump cap in the tank, a forgotten collar, or the hoses being pulled without being separated in the friction zones with the metal parts. The hoses begin to wear out over time if they are not properly set. It only takes a small hole, a leak, or a fuel leak near the pump to provide some unpleasant surprises.

Also, the driver quickly understands he has a fuel leak, either from a puddle discovered under the car or from the unmistakable smell of the fuel.

How do we recognize a car fire?

I believe the answer to this question is straightforward.

After the smoke, odor, and flames However, it is important to recognize it before you see the flames. However, it does not happen in real life like it does in movies, where the car explodes spectacularly. Everything in the real world happens slowly and over time, much like a forest fire.

A small spark ignites a plastic and a rubber, and if not detected in time, it will spread to the entire car.

The initial traces of fire are felt while driving, but they are not visible. We will smell burning, much like in the house with the sockets, and if the space under the hood begins to burn, we will feel it in the automobile cabin. However, if some elements begin to burn beneath the body, it will be difficult to observe; however, other drivers will ultimately alert us that something is wrong with our car.

Where does the car fire come from?

Even if we can’t pinpoint a specific location, this usually occurs in front of the car.

under the dash, in the dashboard, under the hood, or near the air heater and wiper assembly

There have also been reports of fires starting in the passenger compartment, under the seat, or in the trunk.

What to do if our car is on fire?

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  • In this case, at the first signs, we immediately stop the vehicle, remove the key from contact, we make sure that all the passengers have left the car, after which we take the extinguisher provided. We identify the problem and spray the contents of the extinguisher. If the flames have already started to appear, we spray them at their base, not at the top.
  • While the driver takes the above steps, if he is with another passenger, he must signal to other traffic participants to stop and give their own fire extinguishers, as most drivers have only low capacity fire extinguishers on them, just so as not to be fined for the lack of the mandatory legislative set, therefore more such devices are needed to extinguish flames, even small ones.
  • If we have the necessary mood, we do not lose our temper and especially if the situation allows us, it is advisable to disconnect the battery.
  • If the fire has reached some proportions and can no longer be controlled, then we have nothing left to do but to call 911, we will try to take our stuff from the inside and move away from the car, advisable far away from the car, in case of an eventual explosion of the fuel tank.
  • In order not to get in such situations, repair the car only to authorized mechanics and periodically check the electrical installations or the supply circuit, make sure you have the additional insurance for fire situations, buy a large fire extinguisher and install it in the passenger compartment to reach it faster in case of fire, and as I said, if you can’t control the fire anymore, step away from the car and call the firefighters.
  • if you manage to control the fire in the first moments since it appeared, you can save the car from total damage, therefore, it is recommended to act at the first signs of fire, even if it is only odor or little smoke, we must be prepared and have a good fire extinguisher, we must know exactly what to do and how to eliminate the flames, if, after 3 minutes, the flames have not been extinguished, and they grow, we can say goodbye to the car until the firefighters will arrive, there will be no great thing left to save.

Do cars explode due to fire?

  • If the fire is located in the front, it is impossible to have an explosion;
  • If the fire is located under the engine hood, nothing will explode; the fire will be maintained by everything that means plastic, rubber, hose or soundproofing insulation of the bonnet and will not extend in the interior, extinguishing by itself if the small extinguishers do not cope. In addition, once the ignition key has been removed, gasoline no longer comes to the engine, nor can the fire reach from the engine just behind the tank.
  • If the fire is located in the passenger compartment or in the tank area, there is a chance that it will explode; new cars have plastic tanks, even if the fire does not reach it directly, due to the high heat, the tank can melt, all you need is a small hole to drain the fuel to get the fire there and ignite the entire contents of the tank, and suddenly the explosion will take place;
  • Many people are frightened by LPG systems, believing they are a bomb. An LPG cylinder, however, is made of thick steel and has valves that do not allow the sudden discharge of a large quantity of gas; therefore, an LPG bottle will never explode, eventually, if the rubber gasket is melted at the supply hose, the flue gas will burn, like an industrial burner.

How to prevent a car fire?

  • the fuel system must not leak fuel when connecting pipes or fittings;
  • the pipe between the filter and the carburetor should be fixed by with the clamp to prevent its breakage due to the shaking
  • the fuel pumps should not be damaged and the fuel filtration screens should be clean;
  • the fuel tank should be provided with a well-secured lid and secured with a lock so that it does not open during driving, and the brackets for fixing the tank should not have cracks. Attachment of a second fuel tank to the vehicle, unforeseen by the construction, is prohibited;
  • the electrical installation does not have improvised connections, non-insulated cables, which can generate short circuits;
  • the voltage regulating relays should be tightly regulated and isolated from the outside to avoid short circuits;
  • the fuses of the panel must be standard (dimensioned);
  • the battery pack should be securely fastened, with lids on the elements and a suitable protective cover for the housing;
  • it is forbidden to leave textile materials (cotton, cloths) soaked with petroleum products on the battery;
  • it is forbidden to leave the tools in the board lot above the battery, or in its compartment, which may cause a short circuit;
  • the exhaust pipe shall be in good condition, without defective cracks or gaskets (burned) and provided, as the case may be, with a site in use;
  • to supervise that all the installations of the vehicle are functioning normally and to intervene for the immediate repair if their faults have appeared;
  • to prohibit passengers from smoking in the vehicle;
  • do not transport in regular cars pressurized gas cylinders, combustible liquids, flammable, toxic or explosive substances;
  • not to leave the vehicle with the engine running and uninsured;