Car Fires: Not Just In Action Movies

Dramatic car fires might seem like the stuff of action films, but they do happen in real life. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports that there are 33 car fires every hour in the United States. 18% of these accidents occur on highways, but many car fires aren’t the result of collisions. 75% are actually caused by maintenance issues. In a movie, seeing the hero walk away from a burning car is awesome, but in real life, a car fire is incredibly scary. Would you know what to do?

The first step is prevention. If you take care of your vehicle, a fire is less likely to occur. Have your vehicle checked-up regularly. If you bring your car to a shop, ask them to check for any wiring issues, like cracked or loose wires, as well as other electrical problems.  Like wiring and circuit issues, fuel problems are another major cause of vehicle fires. If an oil or fuel leak occurs, the fluids can come into contact with the hot insides of your vehicle. When this happens, a fire can quickly occur. Regular maintenance can help identify any potential leaks or breaks before they become a huge issue. And while it may seem obvious, make sure your oil cap is always secure. This is a very simple step you can take, and ensures that oil or fuel will not leak from your vehicle.

Know the warning signs of a car fire. Like a regular fire, warning signs include a burning smell or smoke. Do not try to get to your destination before inspecting the issue. If you suspect the warning signs of a fire, pull over to a safe place as quickly as possible. Remember, when pulling over, turn on your hazard lights so that other vehicles can see you, and stay away from traffic if you need to exit your vehicle.

To prevent a situation from getting worse, turn off your vehicle’s engine. This will stop the flow of fuel, and can prevent overheating. If there is smoke coming from your car and you have a fire extinguisher, you can crack the hood slightly and spray the fire extinguisher from a few feet away. However, only do this if you feel comfortable, and remember, oxygen can cause a fire to rapidly ignite! Do not open the hood all the way, because this will expose the potential flames to more oxygen!

In all cases, the best thing you can do is get away from the vehicle. Try to get at least 150 feet away from the vehicle, but be sure you aren’t in the way of oncoming traffic. Call 911, and wait until a fire department can safely deal with the issue. You may think you can handle it yourself, but calling 911 is always an ideal solution. Even if the situation seems manageable, your safety should be your top priority!

With proper maintenance, vehicle fires are often preventable. However, if a car fire occurs as the result of an accident, resulting in injuries or property damage, seeking the help of a personal injury attorney is a good option. At the scene of the accident, take care of yourself and your passengers, but afterwards, compensation and justice should be the next focus.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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