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How To Avoid Fire Damage To Your Car

3rd May, 2017

A car fire is a scary, scary thing. However, the main thing to remember is that the chances of your car suddenly exploding into flames while you’re driving it are fairly slim. If ever it does happen, it’s mainly due to lack of basic maintenance – so as long as you’re vigilant, there’s no reason that it should happen to you. Today at Scrap Car Network, we’ll give you a quick run-through on how to avoid car fires, as well as the best thing to do if ever it happens.

Be Prepared

checking the engine for faults

Aside from being scary, car fires are destructive too, and the eventual fire damage often results in cars being prematurely scrapped. Having said that, though, few cars burst into flame completely at random; almost all of them give several warning signs well before they do it. You don’t even have to be particularly on the lookout for a car fire. Just dealing with these issues promptly will in all likelihood prevent one from occurring anyway, so you don’t have to scrap your car. So, for example, keep your eyes peeled for stuff like:

  • Fuses that blow repeatedly (overloaded wires can eventually cause a fire)
  • Cracked or loose wiring
  • Wiring with exposed metal
  • Loud and unexplained sounds from the exhaust
  • Rapid changes in the fuel or oil levels, or engine temperature (the fuel can become easy fodder for the flames)
  • Spilled oil under the bonnet from an oil change
  • Oil or other fluid leaks under the vehicle
  • Missing cap from the oil filler
  • The smell of burning plastic or rubber

As well as staying alert for any trouble or faults with your car, it’s never a bad plan to keep yourself tooled up with a dry-powder or foam-spray fire extinguisher within easy reach. Ideally it should conform to BS EN3, the British standard of safety when it comes to fire extinguishers.

If A Fire Starts

checking the engine for faults

The immediate steps are likely things you’d do on instinct anyway, but they bear saying:

  • Signal, then move to the closest safe place to stop
  • Slow the car and turn off the engine (stopping the flow of fuel can slow the flames)
  • Get everyone out of the car, and don’t allow them to go back for personal items
  • Move far away, at least 100 feet – the flames and toxic fumes can still be dangerous. This applies to bystanders too!
  • Call the emergency services, if someone hasn’t done so already.
  • If you can, alert oncoming traffic or pedestrians. Be aware of passengers or others straying too far into the road – ‘secondary accidents’ are sadly not unheard of

You could theoretically attempt to tackle the fire yourself with the help of your extinguisher. If you can see smoke from under the bonnet, but not flames, you could crack it open slightly and fire a jet under it – from a few feet back, of course. Don’t open the bonnet all the way, as oxygen to the flames can cause the fire to flare, which you’ll recognise as not something you want to happen right next to your face. Don’t use water either – it can short out the wiring and make the fire worse.

To be honest, all told, when it comes to tackling the fire yourself our official advice at Scrap Car Network would be: nope. A big old nope. The fire crews have the equipment and the training to handle the job for you, so don’t put yourself in harm’s way if you can avoid it.

Will You Need To Scrap Your Car?

The next steps are much like those we outlined recently when dealing with any other accident: take pictures of the damage and collect the names and phone numbers of witnesses.

If you’re lucky, your car might just be blackened slightly. For those worst-case scenarios though, you might find instead that dealing with the fire damage isn’t worth the hassle – which is when it’s time to scrap your car. That’ll be when it’s time to come to us here at Scrap Car Network! We are the bees knees at getting you the best price going, and what’s more we’re experts at rendering your car safe before we properly scrap it.

You can kickstart the process today by entering your postcode and car reg onto our website; within moments you’ll be looking at an instant scrap car quote!

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