Buyers' Guide: Why your car may catch fire
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Car fires can be a real threat. It may seem impossible in a world of high safety systems that an unexpected vehicle fire could take place, but there are still various incidents of cars catching fire on our roads every year.
A car can catch fire for a variety of reasons including mechanical failures and driver error. Once a car catches fire, any additional factors can aggravate the situation.
One of the most common causes of a car catching fire is a car accident. This result will depend on which area of the car has sustained the maximum impact.
For example, an accident that affects the gas tank of the car can cause fuel to leak, which may result in a fire. Even though cars have reinforced metal sheets protecting these crucial areas of the vehicle, accidents that cause major impacts can still result in a leakage.
The contact of the fluids of the car with the heat generated by the accident can quickly start a fire. Therefore, it’s important to quickly get out of the car after the accident, move away from the accident spot and contact the right authorities.
Choosing to neglect your car or carrying out dodgy backyard repairs can soon lead to disaster. It could be a cracked fuel hose or a frayed wire that you choose to ignore. For example, any frayed wiring can turn out to be dangerous if it comes in contact with any flammable materials.
Simple visual inspections can be carried out by car owners, but important items like brakes, tyres, suspension and so forth should be checked properly by professionals and any vehicle failure should be taken care of immediately.
Many of the aftermarket accessories that car owners install inside their vehicles draw power from the electrical wiring of the car. It’s not necessarily the products themselves that are hazardous, rather the installation methods used.
For example, if you connect a powerful amplifier directly into the standard wiring loom of the vehicle, you’re all but guaranteed to blow a fuse.
Some DIY cowboys may think the easy solution is to replace the 10A fuse with something that can hold a lot more current, but that’s not how it works. This new high amperage fuse can lead to melted wiring shorting and a potential fire.
The car’s batteries are another potential fire starter. As a battery is in operation, hydrogen gas is developed inside the battery. Add a pair of loose battery terminals arcing and you have a recipe for disaster.
Another danger is worn insulation on high capacity cables that snake from the positive terminal on the battery.
These wires carry a lot of current and if they short, can produce a huge spark. To prevent such conditions, all wires should be insulated properly.
What to do if your car is on fire
First and foremost — don’t try being a hero. As soon as you see signs of a potential fire, pull over, turn the car off and get out.
Remember, there will probably be other vehicles nearby, so watch out for them. Ask for assistance as someone may have a fire extinguisher and be capable of helping.
Vehicle fires erupt fast, and include myriad toxic fumes that can overcome you in as little as two breaths. Get out, forget your belongings (they can be replaced), get to a safe distance and call 111.