Indian roads are deemed as one of the most dangerous in the world. A few primary reasons for getting the tag are the bad conditions of roads, no strict vehicle fitness checks, stray animals and road discipline. While in many developed countries, vehicle fitness is one of the most important criteria to ply the vehicle on the roads. However, in India, you can ride in completely accidental vehicles without getting stopped by anyone. Most of the unfit vehicles on the roads are in the form of three-wheeler autorickshaws and the jugaad vehicles that are built by installing engine from a different vehicle to a rickshaw or similar unstable vehicles.
Here is a video by MR DUKE that shows how unfit vehicles can be very unsafe for motorists. The video is from a town road near the Jharkhand and Odisha border. The video has been taken from the helmet-mounted camera of the rider who is riding in a group with other KTM Duke bikes. The rider himself is riding a KTM bike and can be seen on a relatively empty road.
The video shows an overloaded three-wheeler autorickshaw doing good speed on the road. When the Duke rider comes behind the autorickshaw, a flame can be seen in the engine compartment of the auto after which the riders alert the occupants of the autorickshaw and them about the fire. None of the occupants was aware of the raging fire in the rickshaw and as soon as they get to know about it, they disembark the vehicle and get off it quickly.
On realising about the fire, the autorickshaw driver gets off the vehicle and starts putting soil on the engine to cut off the air and put the fire down. However, the fire keeps on raging. All the occupants of the autorick start to unload the sacks from the rear seats. Interestingly, the engine autorickshaw is still running and when the rider asks him to turn off the auto, the driver says that he already did that. Instead, they put rocks in front of the tyres so that the autorickshaw does not move further and keep on unloading the sacks from the rickshaw. The autorickshaw can be seen engulfed in the flames within a few minutes and soon the fire goes out of control.
How did it happen?
It is a diesel autorickshaw and it is a clear case of the engine running away. It can happen with any diesel powered vehicle including cars. The Mahindra Scorpio above is a case of the engine running away too. This happens to the poorly maintained diesel engines when the oil seal breaks. This allows the engine oil to seep through the broken oil seals and reach the combustion chamber. Since the temperature in the combustion chamber is quite high, the engine oil catches fire and starts to rev uncontrollably and finally seizes the engine. It can also cause the engine to catch fire, which has happened here. The autorickshaw driver did not get to know about it because it must have happened on the open roads when he was keeping the throttle open.
It should be noted that diesel engines are very sophisticated and use high pressure to burn the diesel. There is no spark plug in the diesel engines and turning off the ignition does not help either. Even cutting the fuel lines would not help to stop a run-away engine as the combustion in the chamber creates a vacuum, which causes the engine oil to flow to the chamber and burn. Can it be stopped? Yes, the best way is to choke the air intake so that the air cannot reach the combustion chamber. Since, oxygen is essential in the combustion process, cutting it off will bring the process to an end and may save the engine. This is why one should always keep the diesel engine in top-notch condition.