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Jun 15 2020

For what Reasons can a Car Burn?

 

A motor vehicle contains many types of flammable materials, including liquids like gasoline and oil, or solids like plastic sleeves. Fuel leaks from broken fuel lines can also ignite quickly, especially in gasoline cars where sparks may occur in the engine compartment. Casualty fires have generally been caused by cracking of fuel lines.

We really wish we could say that car fires are an idea made in a Hollywood special effects lab, but that's not true. They are a real danger. Severe car accidents can lead to a spectrum of situations, ranging from a few dents in the sheet metal and bruises for passengers to a catastrophe involving a trip to the emergency room, or worse, in the grave. And the statistics are not favorable.

According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 171,500 fires occur on national highways each year, most in passenger, freight, and agricultural or construction vehicles. Taking the period from 2003 to 2007 in the “Country of Opportunities” as an example, there were 280,000 car fires a year, causing 480 deaths. In the UK, approximately two cars for every thousand registered are burned every year.

If you've ever witnessed a fire in a vehicle, you know how quickly it gets out of control. What you may not know is how such a show could start in the first place. Is the car vulnerable? Unfortunately, due to the nature of many factory components, it is surprising that there are no more burning cars. A current standard car has an average of one kilometer of wiring. Let's look at the most common causes of how a car can catch fire.

Car Accidents:

Many modern vehicles are well designed, with deformation zones that protect internal points such as the engine, battery, and fuel tank in the event of an accident. But when, for example, a trailer truck hits a smaller vehicle, fluid leaks are more likely to approach heat. It also depends on where the impact occurred and with what energy. Thanks to the dire Ford Pinto, fuel tanks are now much safer.

Poor Maintenance:

In many of our Tips, we have already shown that neglecting car maintenance can indirectly lead to a fire. This is because if you leave broken parts, leaking seals, or faulty cables unrepaired, your machine will be much more hospitable to fire-fueled conditions. Where there are hazardous and flammable liquids near hot spots or frayed wiring, there is a greater chance of causing an undesirable reaction. 

Design Flaws:

Like all car fires, a design flaw is only the first step that leads to a fire. While a design defect is unlikely to cause a fire on its own, it can create conditions that make it more likely. It is worth noting that all manufacturers, whether large or small, such as BMW, Volkswagen, Ferrari, or McLaren, have made calls to review one model (or several) due to the risk of fire.

Leaks in the Fuel System:

Fuel leaks are the most common cause of fires in motor vehicles. The flashpoint of gasoline is -43 ° C, which means it is always evaporating to form a concentration of combustible gas. When filtered and evaporated into the air under the hood, the fuel/air mixture is ideal for ignition. All you need is a little spark. And if the temperature rises above 257 ° C, the gasoline will automatically burn without the need for a spark.

Fuel line leak fires are generally caused by old, rotten pipes or faulty connectors, as well as injection systems that are not working properly. To make matters worse, today's fuel pumps compound the problem by working harder to compensate for a possible pressure drop in a leaking line, inadvertently fueling a potential fire. In a car fresh from the factory, it is more difficult to happen.

Spilled Flammable Fluids:

The flammable and highly dangerous fluids that live in vain, as the fuel (either gasoline or diesel), circulating at high temperatures when the car is turned on, and can easily catch fire if lines, hoses, or deposits receive a blow strong. Factors like an accident or a nearby defective part can also start a barbecue, where these liquids are concentrated. Think that an exhaust manifold, for example, can approach a thousand degrees; what falls on top will burn.

Electrical System Failures:

The faults in the electrical system are the second most common cause of fires in a car. An automobile battery can produce gaseous hydrogen during charging, creating an explosion hazard. This and the cables associated with it carry enough current to ignite fuels in the event of a fault. Even broken light bulbs are a source of ignition, as the headlight filaments heat up to temperatures around 1400 ° C. Even in the seats (electrically adjustable) a fire can start.

Engines run on and virtually everything under the hood vibrates to some degree, allowing cables to detach from their insulation or wear out over time and develop a short circuit. Protective devices such as fuses and circuit breakers provide a safety feature in the event of arcs or overloaded wiring, but sometimes a faulty component, poor repair, or vague one-piece installation can defeat these warranties. 

Engine Overheated:

An engine can overheat and cause its internal fluids, such as oil and coolant, to rise to dangerous temperatures and begin to spill out of its circulation areas. When this happens, they drip and drip all over the span, including the exhaust system and other equally hot parts, where they can easily ignite and spread. And it is that an engine that overheats requires mechanical attention, it is not a symptom that can be ignored. It may be a seal or gasket, or the radiator is not working properly.

Aftermarket Components:

Aftermarket component installations can inadvertently introduce an electrical failure and cause a fire. Something as simple as a mounting screw drilled carelessly through the wiring can cause a short circuit. Many trucks, for example, have two batteries to operate the entire entertainment system, making things doubly complicated. All electrical components should be installed by a licensed technician, not your unemployed nephew.

Similarly, careless mechanics who insist on fixing the car with little more than a wrench and screwdriver often overlook complex problems involving the vehicle's microchips and wiring looms. Hobbyist repairs and saving a few minutes shortcuts can lead to unwanted dangers within the engine compartment, which, as we've already seen, is a dangerous place. As scary movies have taught us, don't open the door to strangers.

Catalytic Converters:

We have already mentioned them above: one of the hottest parts of a car is the exhaust system. The catalytic converters are part of it, and can also overheat when they work too much to burn the soot that ends storing. When a catalytic converter is allowed to overheat regularly it can cause damage to the surrounding parts, and therefore cause a fire, since its working temperatures are around 700-800 ºC.

Animals:

Beware of mice that can hide in the bowels of the car. On more than one occasion, nests and hiding places have been discovered for walnuts that rodents love to store in the warm confines of an engine. Dried leaves, twigs, and other nesting materials act as firewood. And the industry enthusiasm for recyclable and organic materials has introduced a new problem: insulation of soy-based power cords, the rodent's favorite under the hood.

Dangerous Load:

Containers such as plastic drums filled with fuel or other flammable liquids that are left in a car in the summer sun can allow the liquid to expand, drip, and saturate the boot liner. Mixed chemistry has the ability to do things like that. It is best never to store hazardous chemicals or materials in the vehicle. It is never a good idea to transport or keep toxic chemicals on board something that is not designed and marked for that task.

Smoking and Driving:

It may not sound very dangerous, especially if you normally do both at the same time, but drop the car cigarette lighter or a badly extinguished cigarette butt on the seat or the floor, where you surely have some paper or plastic wrap. Most likely, you will end up smoking another cigar due to the tension and dismay that the last one left your beloved car charred. A sensible way to avoid this is to stop for a moment anywhere you can park, get out, and then smoke.

Arson:

It's hard to guess why anyone would set fire to a perfectly good car, but the police have some plausible explanations. Random vandalism is common when young people get bored. The action a purifying fire could be used to cover up a robbery or to destroy evidence of another crime. Or it could be an insurance fraud, motivated by someone in debt who expects a good payment courtesy of the vehicle insurer. But it is not that it is a very original idea that we say.

Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Batteries:

While companies like Tesla initially claimed that batteries in electric and hybrid vehicles were immune to the possibility of catching fire, this is not the case. With several of these cars reported in fires, the refrigerant leaks interacted with damaged batteries causing a spark. The last consequence is that the complex ends up being fired by the flames without being able to do anything to avoid it, unless you had a fire truck right next to it when it happened.




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