Yes, a water bottle can set your vehicle ablaze!

Updated Nov 30, 2022 | Same topic: Let's Drive Smart!

Who would have thought that the highly-beneficial habit of bringing bottled water could result in a catastrophe like your car burning down? Are you surprised? Keep reading for more!

Whether we’re driving a car or not, we are always advised to drink water to avoid dehydration. In fact, people don’t have to tell you this because the reminder can be seen almost everywhere – on billboards, on TV, on the internet. and so on. This habit is actually good and comes with a lot of health benefits.

Water bottle warning for car owners

That’s why a lot of groups suggest bringing a water bottle every time we hit the road. This is so that we avoid getting thirsty and end up buying and drinking sugar and color-enriched beverages. However, who would have thought that this healthy habit could result in such catastrophic news like fire?

Are you surprised? How can an innocent bottle of beneficial water cause so much damage as to set your vehicle on fire? Read this article from

1. How the water bottle danger was exposed

As documented on a website, the supposed “far-fetched” event took place around April in the year 2017. Dioni Amuchastegui was on his regular day job in Boise, Idaho under the blistering sun and 100-degree heat when he forgot about the water bottle that he left in his car.

While Dioni worked, he had peace of mind that nothing out of the extraordinary would happen that day – but that was just exactly what happened. As he sat in the company truck while taking his early lunch, he noticed smoke from the corner of his eye.

When he looked over to get a better understanding of the event, he was dumbfounded when he saw the light being refracted from the water bottle he left. As he took a closer look, the car seat was slowly but surely starting to catch fire.

water bottle in car seat

Dioni saw sunlight was being refracted from the water bottle and the car seat was slowly starting to catch fire

>>> Read more: Keep a close watch on 6 main reasons causing car fires.

2. Spreading the news

A lot of Amuchastegui’s colleagues didn’t believe him until they decided to recreate the experiment, but this time with a video recorder as proof. The video was later posted on the internet, and the news about the threats of leaving bottled water in the car started to spread like wildfire.

Bottled water refracting the sunlight

The news about the threats of leaving bottled water in the car started to spread like wildfire

3. General findings

On a hot, sunny day, a transparent water bottle can ruin your car seat and potentially set your vehicle on fire. According to David Richardson, a representative of the Midwest City Fire Department, vinyl can start burning from 455 degrees Fahrenheit. Even with such a high number, it wouldn’t take too long for a fire to start if the beam of sunlight were to be focused.

Richardson even re-created the experiment, and the results were enough proof. He managed to burn a hole into a piece of paper using a plastic water bottle.

He also added that other elements like air temperature don't matter because the transparent bottle will work like a magnifying glass. It follows the same principle as burning a leaf using a magnifying glass when you were a kid.

A representative of Midwest City Fire Department

A representative of Midwest City Fire Department stated that vinyl can start burning from 455 degrees Fahrenheit

4. Key things to remember

Unlike plain water bottles, you don’t have to worry about tinted bottles or dark-colored drinks. If you really need to leave a transparent plastic water bottle in your car, hide it under your seat or in the glovebox away from direct sunlight. You won’t only be keeping your drinking water safe from the melting plastic particles, but you’ll also save your vehicle from being burned down to bits.

Although the Philippine is a tropical country and we do have intensely hot days, there has never been a report about a transparent water bottle causing slight burns or a big fire. However, just because there haven’t been any reports of the event doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Even though the likelihood of someone ever experiencing this is small, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

car burning

There has never been a report about a transparent water bottle causing car fires 

>>>You need to know: Home and Fire Insurances in the Philippines: What’s the Difference?

5. Other objects and habits that can set your vehicle on fire

While we’re at it, aside from leaving a plastic water bottle that acts as a magnifying glass in your car, there are other ways that you may be putting your vehicle at risk of fire. 

Fluid Spills

An average car can have multiple flammable fluids under the hood alone. This includes but isn’t limited to engine oil, transmission fluid, diesel fuel or gasoline, power-steering fluid, engine coolant, and brake fluid. As you may know, all these fluids circulate within the system whenever the vehicle is turned on and running.

car fires

An average car can have multiple flammable fluids under the hood alone

That means that these fluids go through a variety of paths and hoses. If there is ever damage or defect in any of those passages, the fluid can start leaking -- and be ignited by accident like if you drive over a lit cigarette at just the right (wrong) instance.

Engine overheating

An overheating engine doesn’t just happen out of the blue, and you can pretty much prevent it from happening. Some of the usual causes of an overheating engine are the lack of coolant or lack of engine oil. If you push your vehicle to work with insufficient coolant and oil, it will break down and teach you a lesson.

The worst-case scenario when it comes to an overheating engine is when the car stops running and emits black smoke coming from the hood that comes with an unpleasant burning smell. This odor can also seep into the air conditioner and fill the whole cabin with blackness. Since there’s smoke, you can guess what may just come next – fire.

oveheating engine

Some of the usual causes of an overheating engine are the lack of coolant or lack of engine oil

In-car lighter

Although there have never been reports about a vehicle burning to ashes because of a cigarette lighter, you can never be too careful. A misplaced or loosely-placed lighter may not cause direct fire, but it can definitely cause accidents.

The risk is higher, especially if you drive old cars where the lighter is always hot. If you aren’t careful and wary of your surroundings, you may not be able to put the lighter back thoroughly or a child may even play with it.

Hanna Sanchez

Hanna Sanchez


Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.

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