On 2nd February, a car caught fire in an underground parking lot in Whitefield, Bangalore. A mother and child were killed in the fire. Police suspect that electrical and mechanical faults in the car caused the fire. Just a few days, during the Auto Expo, a car caught fire and the fire spread to three other cars.
A burning car is not a pretty sight but is quite common on Indian roads. While most owners escape a burning car thanks to luck, warnings from passersby and quick reactions, others unfortunately succumb to the flames that can engulf a car within minutes.
There are many steps that can prevent a car fire from occurring in the first place. CarToq details 7 such tips that if followed, will minimize the risk of your car going up in flames.
Service your car as per schedule
One of the least glamorous yet effective tips, servicing your car as per schedule can avoid many mishaps such as over heating due to lack of coolant that can in turn cause a fire, and fuel leaks that would have otherwise gone undetected. Therefore, regular maintenance is a must and do ensure that fluid are topped up, the battery is checked, fuel lines are checked and the engine bay is clear of combustible material.
Do not store combustible material in the car
Combustible materials can come in many forms, from a dirty fuel soaked rag in the engine bay to a high pressure deodorant inside the car. A deodorant can in a car left in the hot sun can explode, potentially causing a fire. The same is the case with other inflammable materials such as a can of petrol or a LPG cylinder, which can cause serious explosions and fires in case of a collision.
Cigarette smokers need to be extra cautious
Smoking in the car is uncomfortable for non-smokers and also patently unsafe as the cigarette can cause a fire if its sparks come in contact with clothing or any other combustible materials stored inside. The push type cigarette lighter is another area that is susceptible to electrical short circuits, which could again escalate into a full fledged car fire.
Avoid shoddy after market CNG/LPG fitments
After market CNG/LPG fitments that are shoddily implemented are disasters waiting to happen. A well engineered/factor fitted CNG kit with automatic cut off/warning mechanisms if a leak is detected is the safe way to go but many car owners resort to a cheaper retro fit LPG/CNG kit that compromises safety in the interests of lower costs. Avoid such kits at all costs.
Avoid after market accessories that require wire splicing
After market accessories are very attractive but can cause fatal accidents due to electric short circuits. When a car’s electrical system is designed by a manufacturer, it comes with certain engineering accommodations for the fitment of certain accessories. However, inexperienced service personnel/accessory fitters fiddling with the OEM wiring to fit accessories can result in the car going up in flames due to an electrical fire. Avoiding after market accessories that are not manufacturer recommended is a good idea.
Keep inflammable material clear of the engine bay
The engine bay is one area where owners and mechanics routinely forget inflammable material. The high temperatures generated by the engine is capable of burning through rubber, plastic and cloth very quickly. If not extinguished on time, a small piece of cloth burning in the engine bay can lead to a major fire. So, ensure that the engine bay is clear of inflammable materials and
Stay alert for burning smells
Staying alert to burning smells in and around you when you’re in a car is a life saver. Catching a burn early and pulling over to inspect can prevent a smouldering element from developing into a major fire.