Causes of car fires and prevention tips every driver should know

Updated Aug 16, 2022 | Same topic: Let's Drive Smart!

You might have seen car fires on movies. However, what will you do if you experience this situation in real life? Here 3 things you should know to deal with car fires.

Accidents happen. One day, you’re merrily jamming to your favorite tune on the radio on your way home and the next, you are involved in a minor collision because the vehicle in front of you was speeding.

A lot can happen while you are driving down the road, however, in this article, we’ll be discussing a scenario that is not only destructive but can be deadly as well. In a tropical country like the Philippines, the scorching heat of the sun can take its toll on the vehicle's engine which could lead to overheating.

When an engine overheats, electrical and fuel connections are exposed to the risk of explosion and car fires. In this article, will discuss the causes, steps, and prevention tips you need to follow in cases of car fires.

Car catch fires

Keep calm and find the solution to deal with your burning car

1. Causes of Car Fires

Technically, your car engine is built to withstand heat and vibrations. Overheating is not a tell-tale sign that your vehicle is about to burst into flames soon. To guide you, here are 5 common causes or symptoms that tell you your car is about to light up at any given time.

Disregarding auto check-up and maintenance

Surprisingly, a study discovered that car fires are mostly caused by human error. Neglecting regular maintenance and car check-up is one of them. During a thorough check-up, broken parts, damaged seals, a faulty gasket and electrical system failures can be repaired immediately.

Thus, minimizing the risks of car fires. If you think that canceling your trip to the mechanic for a physical check-up will do you any good, know that you’ll be putting your vehicle and your life in danger because of laziness.

Man operating the engine

A study discovered that car fires are mostly caused by human error

>>> Read more: The 4 'Whys' of Car Maintenance That You Must Know.

Fuel Leaks

There are a lot of factors that contribute to fuel leaks. Some of it may root from defective parts, corrosion, electrical failure, contaminants, overflow, and damage from a previous accident. No matter what the cause of your fuel leak, it is essential to remember that this can be prevented by regular maintenance and check-up.

Fuel or other car fluids are highly-flammable and poisonous. When exposed to heat or any open source of flame, your car might fire up and explode anytime.

fuel leaks

There are a lot of factors that contribute to fuel leaks

Engine Overheat

Similar to a fuel leak, numerous things can occur that will result in an engine overheat. A hole in the cooling system, low level of fluids or oil, broken water pump, and even a condensed coolant. Since you can never pinpoint as to what may lead to the car fire, it is best to look out for signs that indicate your car is overheating.

Some of them might include a malfunction engine signal on your dashboard, smoke coming from under the hood of your vehicle (this is an urgent sign, and it is advised that you park your car on the right side of the road and call for help immediately) and humid air coming out of your air conditioner.

engine overheat

Numerous things can occur that will result in an engine overheat

Now that you are aware of common causes for car fires, it is now time to discuss what you should do in these unfortunate cases.

>>> Also check: Causes and remedies for overheating automobile engines.

2. Car Fires: What You Need To Do

Since accidents can happen at any given moment, you can be the next victim of a car fire. Although preventive measures must be followed, there are moments where curative steps are needed. If you are inside your vehicle and you see smoke under the hood, this should be your first clue that a fire might break out soon.

When you’re driving on a roadway

As early as you see any sign of car fire, immediately signal or notify other motorists by your need to move towards the right lane. When you are situated safely on the right side of the road, stop and immediately shut off the car’s engine. If you happen to drive with family members or friends, make sure they leave the car safely, too.

Also, keep bystanders away from your vehicle as far as possible. Ask help from people to signal the oncoming motorists of a road disturbance so that accidents are prevented. Once these are all done, immediately contact the fire department of your location and situation. 

Last but not least, never attempt to put out the fire all by yourself. You may get injured from the inevitable car explosion or inhale toxic fumes from all the poisonous liquids and materials burning up.    

burning car

Stop and immediately shut off the car’s engine

When you’re idle, on traffic, or on a parked vehicle

Unlike when you’re moving or driving, this particular situation involves the cooperation of everyone that might get involved in the potential danger. Similar to the steps mentioned above, tell nearby motorists to leave their cars and stay away from the burning fire.

It will also help if you advise them to shut off their engines and go to a safe distance until authorities arrive.

Car burning on road

Tell nearby motorists to leave their cars and stay away from the burning fire

If you have a fire extinguisher at your disposal, it may help so that you can avoid spreading the fire from your vehicle to theirs. If not, don't risk it.

3. Prevention Tips

To prevent the unexpected wrath brought about by a car fire, here are some tips that you can follow to avoid imminent danger.

  • Master the skill of defensive driving.
  • Never miss out on your regular car check-up and maintenance.
  • If signs about electrical or fuel systems failure appear, take your car immediately to your trusted mechanic.
  • Limit your speed or stay within the prescribed speed limit.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher and an escape tool (Swiss knife and the like) for emergency cases.

a fire extinguisher - car fire

A  fire extinguisher really helps in emergency cases

Security is not absolute. As much as we would want to be safe and comfortable at all times, there are cases wherein people are put to the test of readiness and alertness.

In situations such as car fires where prevention is a much viable option than its curative solution, it is vital to be aware of tell-tale signs mentioned above and taking the initiative to repair any damages that may result to injury.