What to Do if a Car Catches Fire?
Due to flammable liquids, several frictional components, and complicated electrical wiring, car fire is a pretty common hazard. A car fire can prove to be fatal given its potential to damage a vehicle’s critical components.
Hence, it is essential to know the reasons leading up to a car fire to prevent them. It is also equally important to be aware of what to do when a car catches fire.
Read on to gain an insight into all related details, including factors or reasons for a car catching fire.
Things to Do When a Car Catches Fire
Just like there are many factors related to what causes a car to catch fire, there are several scenarios as well when a fire can break out in a vehicle.
Illustrated below are some of those scenarios, along with steps that should be undertaken if one gets stuck in any of these -
What to Do When a Car Catches Fire While Driving?
If a car catches fire while driving, then the following steps should be taken to get out of danger -
Turn off the ignition and step out of the vehicle: The first thing an individual should do if a car catches fire while driving is to stop on the roadside and switch the ignition off.
The next thing that they should do is to step out of the car as soon as possible. Additionally, they should also assist other vehicular occupants in stepping outside safely. They can also choose to unlock all car windows and doors before turning the ignition off.
Move away from a burning car: After stepping out of a vehicle, one should move away so as to maintain a distance from a burning car. This is because flammable liquids present in a four-wheeler can lead to an explosion. Besides, one must alert oncoming traffic regarding dangers ahead if possible.
Use a fire extinguisher: Given the unpredictable nature of a car fire hazard, keeping a fire extinguisher in a vehicle is always a good idea. If a fire extinguisher is available, one can attempt to put out the fire before the situation gets out of hand, but only if it is safe to do so.
Refrain from opening the boot/bonnet: One must not open the boot/bonnet in an attempt to put off the fire when a vehicle is in flames. A fire underneath a car or in an engine bay is hazardous. Also, if one tries to open the bonnet/boot, the flames might flare up and burn their hands.
Contact traffic police and fire department: One should immediately get in touch with the fire department if a fire seems to be getting out of hand. They must also notify the traffic police regarding the same. Traffic police would help to alert oncoming traffic regarding the incident.
Reach out to an authorised car service centre: One must get in touch with an authorised vehicle service centre and notify them regarding the issue. While reporting, they must explain the magnitude of damage. They can additionally ask for a towing vehicle to transport the damaged vehicle to a nearby service centre.
Be aware of oncoming traffic: One must always stand behind the burning car and not in the middle of the road. This is to avoid being hit by oncoming traffic.
Inform vehicle insurance provider: After putting out the fire, individuals should inform their car insurance provider regarding the incident. They must wait till an insurance company executive reaches the spot to pay damages.
What to Do If a Car Catches Fire While Parked or Stopped in Traffic?
Wondering, “can a parked car catch fire?” The answer is yes.
This particular situation can be tricky to handle, and one should be well aware of the surroundings before taking any evasive action.
Given below are some points that an individual should follow if they get stuck in such a situation -
Switch off the engine and step out of the car: One should switch the engine and ignition off and step out of the vehicle after noticing flames or smoke. Vehicle occupants must also unlock all car doors. This would make the car easily accessible for extinguishing the fire.
After getting out, one should move away from the burning car, thereby maintaining a safe distance.
Alert other vehicles and pedestrians: A burning vehicle standing in the middle of the road may cause damage to other cars as well. Hence, one must inform other road users to move away from a burning vehicle. Additionally, they should warn the pedestrians to stay away from the car.
Reach out to the fire department: A burning vehicle in the middle of the road can be dangerous. Hence, individuals must immediately get in touch with the fire department. This department would then put off the fire and control the situation quickly.
Do not try to put out a fire on your own: Individuals should not try putting the fire out on their own. With the car in the middle of the road, the risk of oncoming traffic hitting it is high. Moreover, attempting to put out the fire without proper understanding of dealing with such situations can be unsafe.
Do not try retrieving personal belongings from the vehicle: Individuals should not go near the burning car to collect personal belongings. Given the harmful nature of toxic gases, a burning vehicle can prove to be highly dangerous. Furthermore, an explosion may cause injury if a safe distance is not maintained from the burning car.
Inform service centre and insurance company: Individuals must reach out to their car insurance company and service centre once the fire is put out. Thereafter, they need to wait until the executive from your insurance provider visits the spot to assess the damage. Later, you can tow your car to the nearest service centre.
What to Do If a Car Catches Fire Due to a Collision or Accident?
A vehicle can catch fire due to a collision or accident. Moving out of the car is critical if it catches fire after an accident. A vehicle on fire following an accident is a perilous situation as the occupants may get injured.
Individuals searching for “what causes a car to catch fire in an accident” or “why do cars catch fire when they crash” must also keep the following points in mind -
Move out of the vehicle: If a car catches fire following an accident, one should first get out of it. Even if one is injured, one must try getting out of the car as soon as possible. This is because a fire may lead to an explosion that can again result in fatal injuries.
Additionally, after getting out of the vehicle, one should help other occupants get out.
Contact emergency services: One should immediately contact the traffic police, fire department, and ambulance. They would prove to be highly helpful in managing the situation.
Get in touch with a service centre and car insurance provider: Individuals can reach out to the service centre and car insurance provider after the situation comes under control.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher When a Car Catches Fire?
As mentioned earlier, keeping a fire extinguisher in a car can prove to be highly helpful. At the same time, individuals should have an idea regarding how to operate it.
Generally, every powder fire extinguisher works in a similar manner. One simply needs to pull the key/pin that seals the fire extinguisher, aim at the fire and press the handles together. Individuals must note that they should use an extinguisher only if it is safe.
Warning Signs That a Vehicle Is on Fire
It is imperative to identify the signs that indicate that a car is on fire. It is critical for taking evasive actions.
Given below is a list of the warning signs -
- Low fluid levels: In the case of a fire, there may be a rapid drop in the oil, fuel, and fluid levels. One should keep an eye out for sudden fluctuations in oil and fuel gauge.
- Tyre failure: Tyres may burst because of a fire underneath the vehicle.
- Blown fuses: Fuses tend to blow off owing to excessive heat or some issue related to electrical connections. If one notices blown fuses while driving, there may be a fire underneath the vehicle or in the engine bay.
- Loud exhaust sound: Loud bangs would be coming out of the exhaust if there is a fire in the car's rear end or underneath it.
- Temperature of engine: The engine temperature will suddenly rise if there is a fire on the engine bay or under the bonnet.
- Burning smell: One can sense a burning rubber or plastic smell if the vehicle is on fire.
Reasons That Result in a Car Catching Fire
Several factors can result in a car catching fire. Some of these are as follows -
- Mechanical failure: A car features mechanical components that generate heat due to friction. A failure of any of these components can result in a fire.
- Electrical failure: A car is characterised by complex electrical wiring and other components like an electronic fuel injection system, battery, lights, etc. A malfunction or failure of these can lead to a fire.
- Fluid leakage: A leakage of vital fluids like transmission fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, etc., can be a reason for a car catching fire. Individuals, therefore, must always check for any leakages before hitting the road with the car.
- Missing/loose oil filler cap: A missing or loose oil filler cap can result in oil spilling all over the engine. Engine oil can catch fire because of high temperatures, and it can prove to be fatal while driving.
- Using substandard components: Using inferior quality components or materials in a vehicle can lead to a fire. The mechanical components of a car undergo a substantial amount of stress, and they can fail and cause a fire if they are of substandard quality.
- Loose/faulty wiring: A faulty or loose wire connection can lead to a short circuit. This, in turn, may result in a fire. Moreover, exposed wires are also prone to sparks, which can again lead to a fire.
- Oil spill: If oil gets spilt on the engine bay while changing it, it may catch a fire when the engine temperature rises. So, one should always ensure that no oil gets spilt in the engine bay.
- Loose/worn out hoses: Broken/loose/worn out hoses can cause huge damage to the engine as they carry fluids to the engine. A faulty radiator, fuel hose, etc., can result in a fire because of coolant or fuel leakage.
Safety Tips to Avoid a Car Fire
Individuals looking for car fire safety tips can follow the below-mentioned ways to prevent a fire from breaking out in their vehicle -
- Turn off the engine during refuelling the vehicle. The fuel vapours may come in contact with the heat generated by the engine and catch fire.
- Do not leave or transport flammable substances inside the vehicle. The temperature in the interiors of a closed car can go high, and the flammable substances can result in a fire.
- Get fuel lines checked regularly for any leakage or wear. Fuel leakage is highly dangerous owing to its highly flammable nature.
- Get a fire extinguisher for a vehicle and keep it near the driver’s seat.
- Do not smoke inside their vehicle. As car interiors contain plastic and other material that can easily catch fire, even a slight spark can result in a fire.
- Turn off the engine immediately if a burning plastic or rubber smell comes out from underneath the vehicle.
- Park the vehicle in a safe place always. And park it in a shaded area, especially in the summers.
- Avoid using aftermarket accessories that can tamper with the original wiring of the vehicle.
- Service a car on a regular basis or according to intervals recommended by the manufacturer. One should maintain all the fluids at optimum levels and ensure that every component is in perfect working order.
- Stop the car immediately if you notice smoke emitting from the brakes or bonnet.
- Avoid parking their car near flammable fluids or gases. A car engine is generally hot when the vehicle is parked, and it is definitely better to avoid parking near flammable materials.
Therefore, individuals must keep in mind the above vital aspects of how a car catches fire and other related important information. This will help them prevent a dangerous car fire scenario and also manage one if something like that occurs.