Faengt Diesel fire

When the car catches fire

When driving there are problems with the car and suddenly it starts to burn - a horror idea for every driver. According to the Automobile Club of Germany (AvD), this happens again and again. Depending on the source, around 20,000 vehicles are destroyed by the flames every year. A quarter of them are caused by arson. According to the AvD, the majority of the other fires could be prevented by taking appropriate precautions. But how does it come about that a car catches fire? The AvD has summarized the most common reasons:

1. Fuel system: Leaky or porous fuel lines in the engine compartment are particularly dangerous. If drivers notice a gasoline or diesel smell here, the engine compartment must be examined carefully. As a precaution, the AvD advises to have all hose connections checked every two years.

2. Hydraulics and oil supply: Caution is required here, especially with new vehicles. Because leaky pressure lines, for example from the power steering, the chassis hydraulics or the lubrication of the turbocharger, spray an oil mist. It can ignite after just 20 seconds on the red-hot exhaust manifold, the catalytic converter or the turbocharger, warns the AvD. One of the reasons for a leaky pressure pipe is a marten bite. 

3. Electrics and electronics: Frayed cables can lead to a short circuit. Usually, a smoldering fire occurs first. Signs of this are flickering gauges and a loss of power in the car. However, if the driver does not stop in time in this situation, even more can come of it. Since cars usually do not have a central switch for the electrical system, the AvD recommends having one installed as a precaution. At the same time, however, he advises against tinkering with the car yourself with modern electronics.

4. External influences: A lot of damage can be caused by glowing cigarette butts that are thrown out of the window by those in front and then burn into the front plastic paneling of the following car. According to the AvD, the number of such inflammations is increasing, which is why such offenses are now increasingly being pursued in the fire analysis.

5. Self-ignition: Parking spaces in forests and meadows can be very dangerous, especially in summer. The reason: Hot exhaust systems and catalytic converters can ignite the dry grass or leaves on which the car is standing.

The outbreak of a fire is announced by the smell of fire, smoke or the failure of certain instruments in the car. Often the car also loses performance. In these cases, the driver must stop in a safe place as quickly as possible, switch off everything except the hazard warning lights, put on a safety vest and look for the cause with great care. If a car fire extinguisher with a capacity of at least two kilograms or a fire extinguisher can is on board, the flames can be fought with it.