A car is a complex machine of mechanical and electrical components. Most car systems work on friction, flammable liquid, and complicated electric wiring. Because of this, one of the most common threats to a car is fire. What's more likely is that a fire was caused by a combination of things: human error, mechanical issues, and chemical sources. A fire may have been caused by all of these factors working together. If your car is on fire, get out fast, along with any family member or pets, and get as far away from the car as possible.
Once a vehicle is on fire, any number of additional factors can (and will) complicate things. Knowing what those factors are can potentially help you avoid a dangerous situation.
What Causes a Car Fire?
The maintenance and safety aspects of a car are unique to your car model and make. If you understand the correct specifications, it can prevent and reduce the risk of your catching on fire. Here are some factors that might lead to a car catching on fire.
Electrical System Failure
Electrical system failures are a common cause of car fires. Car batteries, for example, serve to supply electrical power to starter motors and ignition systems. Despite its small size, a 12-volt car battery is capable of producing hydrogen gas during charging and has the potential to cause an explosion.
Engine overheating is a normal occurrence that happens among older cars, especially if the owner neglects its maintenance. Overheating usually occurs due to failure or damage to the radiator, fan relays, radiator leaks, or damage to the water pump.
New Car Accessories Installation
Installation of car accessories such as car dash cams that do not follow the correct installation guidelines can cause fires while on the road. Installation that is not done properly according to the camera specifications can cause a short circuit and in certain situations, can lead to a costly repair.
Most vehicles today are equipped with a crush zone that protects important vehicle interiors such as fuel tanks, car engines, batteries, and other risky components in the event of an accident. But depending on the impact of the collision and the situation during the accident, the crush zone also has the potential to suffer damage.
How to prevent Car Fire
Car fires can spread quickly, especially if the car is moving because of the wind that supplies oxygen for faster combustion. If this, unfortunately, happens to you while on the road, take the following safety measures:
1. Turn off the car engine and pull the handbrake before you get out of your car – the engine combustion system would still be running if the engine is not turned off, thus causing the fire to spread rapidly.
2. Exit the car immediately or unlock car doors or windows for the rescue team or others to help you out. If your car door or window cannot be opened, kick or break the windshield to get out of the car.
3. Contact the fire department and traffic police: If the fire is getting out of hand, you should immediately contact the fire department, and also notify the traffic police about the same. The traffic police will help in alerting the oncoming traffic about the incident.
4. If you can locate the source of the fire and have a fire extinguisher in your car, stand at a safe distance to use the fire extinguisher. If you are unable to locate the source of the fire, avoid trying to fan out the flames for your safety.
5. Inform your car insurance company: As soon as the fire has been put off, notify your car insurance company of the fire.
Your Life Matters Most in Case of a Fire
There are many reasons why a car catches fire but in the end, your safety and the safety of those in the car matter the most. If you are unsure of what to do in the event of a fire, make sure to leave your car as fast as possible. Do not try to reach for any belongings as that might slow you down. Remember that apart from your life, everything else is replaceable.
About the Author
Rabih Hamawi is a principal at the Law Office of Rabih Hamawi, P.C. and focuses his practice on representing policyholders in fire, property damage, and insurance-coverage disputes against insurance companies and in errors-and-omissions cases against insurance agents. He may be reached at (248) 905-1133.