Vehicle fires occur more often than you may think. Click here to learn how and why these fires get started, and what you can do to avoid a tragedy.

Understanding Causes of Car Fires So You Can Reduce Your Risk

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that 17 car fires occur every hour throughout the United States. Unfortunately, despite the danger, many drivers are oblivious to their risks. The following data from the National Fire Data Center illustrates even further how likely you are of experiencing a car fire, and the consequences thereof:

  • U.S. fire departments respond to over 60,000 highway accidents that include vehicle fires each year
  • Vehicle fires account for 14% of fire department emergency responses.
  • Passenger vehicle fires account for 86% of car fires.
  • Fires that originated in the engine, running gear, or wheel area of the vehicle account for 61% of vehicle fires and 35% of car-fire fatalities.

Common Causes of Car Fires

Car burning on the side of the roadNow that you know your risks, it’s important for you to know how car fires begin and what to look for to avoid serious injuries. The four most common reasons a car may ignite include:

  1. Ignition of flammable liquids. When flammable liquids, such as gasoline and oil, come in contact with a spark or heat from an overheated engine/exhaust, it can easily ignite and cause a small flame to engulf any and every flammable piece of material near it.
  2. Ignition of combustible fumes. The fumes of flammable liquids are also susceptible to combustion. Therefore, even when the liquid is not present, fumes can ignite and draw the flame back toward the flammable liquid. Oil vapors in your engine are especially susceptible to combustion as they’re designed to ignite with the help of your engine’s spark plugs. If that ignition isn’t controlled or too much vapor is expelled, a fire could result.
  3. Ignition from electrical malfunctions. Vehicles have many electrical components. Unfortunately, when you have electricity, you also have a risk for electrical fires. If a single wire becomes damaged, it could create a spark. This spark can ignite flammable liquids, combustible fumes, and even upholstery.
  4. Ignition from collisions. The impact force of a collision can easily cause the protective containers of flammable liquids to crack and spill their contents, as well as produce large sparks as a result of metal scraping metal. The combination of sparks and flammable substances will almost certainly cause a fire.

When a car fire causes you or your family serious injury, it can be difficult to determine who’s at fault, especially if the fire didn’t result from a collision. However, the proper representation of a skilled lawyer can help you determine cause and liability. If it’s discovered that the incident was not caused by your own vehicle neglect, you may be eligible for an injury settlement. Call our office to find out more.