With today’s vehicle technology, drivers might think about putting their seat belt on every time they get behind the wheel. However, most motorists probably do not think about preventing a car fire.
But maybe drivers should do so. Over 300 people die in vehicle fires every year, and over 1000 suffer personal injury. Most vehicle fires start when a motorist gets into a car accident, but some fires are caused by poor maintenance, construction, or regular wear and tear.
This discussion offers some suggestions to prevent a vehicle fire and to keep drivers and passengers safe.
Maintain Your Vehicle
The best way to prevent a summer vehicle fire is to ensure your vehicle is in good working order. To do that, check your oil and coolant levels. Many vehicle fires start because of too little oil or coolant, something that easily leads to extremely hot and brittle conditions.
Checking your brakes is also critical for the same reasons. When your brake pads are too worn, you could easily start a fire when the brakes have nothing soft to push against and create sparks in very hot conditions.
The engine compartment is where most vehicle fires start, so that is a great place to have your mechanic check for any issues. For example, the tiniest oil leaking out in the wrong spot of the engine compartment could send oil dripping onto an extremely hot part of the engine, causing a fire.
Do note that cars rarely explode in the way you see in the movies. That happens only in extreme situations, usually involving tragic accidents.
When you are on the road in hot conditions, be smart. If you think something is wrong, stop driving. Keep a close eye on your gauges; they are provided for a reason. If anything gets too hot, take immediate action.
The worst thing you can do is nothing. When your car temperature gauge indicates that it is getting too hot, you need to take prompt action, or you risk not only extensive and permanent damage to your car, but also serious injury or death.
Keep an eye on certain components in your vehicle. If you have regular issues with a certain part of your car, that could be a warning sign of potential problems that could lead to a fire. Here are some items to watch out for:
- Fuses that blow with some regularity
- Fresh oil in the engine compartment
- Regular oil drops where you park your car overnight
- Loose wiring that is visible
- Loud sounds coming from your car’s exhaust system
- Sudden drop in fuel or oil levels
- Sudden rise or drop in engine temperature
- Broken or loose hoses
Any of these items are issues that should be addressed by your mechanic as quickly as possible. Even if you consider yourself handy, these are potentially deadly matters that need to be addressed by a professional. Do not take matters into your own hands. Get your car to your mechanic as soon as possible.
One of the best things to do is to know what action to take if you find yourself in a vehicle fire. If a fire breaks out in your car:
- Turn on your hazard lights and pull off the road immediately.
- Turn off the ignition as soon as you are safely pulled over.
- Get all your passengers out of the car.
- Pop the hood, but do not attempt to open the hood. Doing so will only give the fire more air and can make things worse.
- Get yourself out of the car.
- Call 911.
Although the engine compartment is one of the hottest places in your car and the most common place for vehicle fires to start, car fires can and do start in other locations. Therefore, if you see or smell smoke but do not know where it is coming from, you should still take action based on the steps above.
Ultimately, never try to put the fire out yourself. Just like you should have your mechanic look over any serious areas of concern, you should let the fire department handle a fire in your car. Even if that means a total loss of your vehicle, it is much better than trying to put the fire out yourself and causing additional injury or harm to yourself or someone else.
Common Causes of Car Fires
Although most car fires start in the engine compartment, the engine is not always the direct cause of a fire. The direct cause is commonly something else:
- Fuel leak
- Oil leak
- Electrical system failure
- Overheating engine or system components
While car fires today are much rarer than they used to be, they still happen with some regularity. Especially if you have an older model car that may not have all the safety features and updated components of a newer model car, it is vital that you ensure your car is in safe working condition. Have it checked regularly and keep an eye out for any obvious signs of potential dangers.
After you are safe, regardless of what has happened to your car, it is important that you determine why your car started on fire. Many times, it could be the result of poor maintenance work or improper construction. Either way, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries and any damages you suffered. To find out your next steps and to get experienced legal advocacy guiding you through the complex legal process ahead, reach out to a lawyer you trust to handle your car wreck fire claim.
Alexandria Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Clients in Any Season
Car accidents can happen at any time of year and can be caused by some strange reasons, including summer weather. If you have been injured in a car accident, look no further than the Alexandria car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our experienced legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to help you secure full and fair compensation. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.