Car Fire Safety Guide: Be Safe and Drive Safe!

Thread Starter #1


Honoured Member
Sep 3, 2013
car fire.jpg


Hearing about heart-rending car fire that claims the lives of people are becoming not uncommon now a days and, it made me to provide here some important insights into such fearful accidents.[cry]

A car is a complex machine with mechanical and electrical components. With the presence of a lot of frictional components, flammable liquids and complex electric wiring, fire is one of the most common hazards in a car.

Car fire safety guide is one of the critical aspects of owning a car.

I would like to share about the proximate causes, precautions and preventions that a car owner must know !


  • Accidental Impact leads to friction, fire & fuel leakage – uncontrolled speeding against objects viz., Tree, Building, Posts, Tire burst, Another Vehicle (Avoid Over speed)
  • Nature’s Lightning (Avoid Driving outside during natural calamity)

• After Market Accessories (Take utmost precaution while adding accessories that need car electrical line)
• Battery related issues (Always check battery conditions, heating & overload issues. Do not buy an unbranded , refurbished local, unknown generic chinese brands) [evil]
• Rodent Menace (Avoid keeping attractive food particles, Repel)
• Improper Maintenance, Friction (Ensure Periodical maintenance, Note for any abnormal sound )
• Keeping Fire prone objects, spray canes, inflammable liquids, risky cylinders. (Avoid)
• Tampering OE fire protection, OE Carpet, OE Firewall, OE Insulation. (Ensure it is preserved, protected)
• Smoking (Avoid totally inside the car)

In general, any Mechanical failure, Electrical failure, Faulty/loose wiring causing short circuits, Oil spill, Leakage of other vital fluids such as coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, Loose/missing oil filler cap, worn out/loose hoses, Use of substandard Electrical, mechanical components can contribute.


  • Switch off the engine immediately if you smell rubber or plastic burning underneath the car.
  • Avoid parking the car near flammable gases or fluids.
  • Switch off the engine while refueling the car. The vapors of the fuel might come in contact with the heat produced by the engine and catch fire.
  • Park the car in a safe and shaded place.
  • Avoid using aftermarket accessories which can tamper the original wiring of the car.
  • If you Get a fire extinguisher keep it near the driver seat.

Dos and Don’ts
(If you notice a fire or burning smell while driving the Car (or) When Parked/Stopped in Traffic (or) Due to an Accident/Collision)

car fire 5.jpg

  • Get out of the car, also assist other occupants to safely get out as quickly as possible & unlock all the doors and windows before switching off the ignition.
  • Stop and switch off the ignition
  • Move away from the burning car, maintain a safe distance.
  • If you have a fire extinguisher, attempt to put out the fire before it gets out of hand, if safe.
  • Do not open the bonnet/boot
  • Do not attempt to retrieve personal belongings from the car.
  • Alert the oncoming traffic, pedestrians about the danger ahead if possible.
  • Later: Contact the Fire Department, Traffic Police, Authorized Car Service center depending upon the situation.
  • Inform your Car Insurance provider if you have a comprehensive coverage.


A well maintained car needs periodical service only on completion of certain mileage or a period, say once in a year. BUT, it doesn’t mean that our car is otherwise safe.

Driving a car warrants that all our sensory reflexes are active. Apart from what we visually (EYES) notice, we should not ignore any abnormal sounds (EARS) and abnormal smell (NOSE).

  • Floor inspection for fuel/oil leakage daily
  • Engine bay Checkup & Bonnet Inspection for Rodent menace / Dried Leaves/ Fuel/Oil Leakage periodically.
  • Clear exhaust fumes with no abnormal sound or sparks.
  • Periodical Service Maintenance
In general, any sign of Blown fuses, abnormal Engine temperature, Low oil/ fluid levels, Loud exhaust sound, worn out tires, a burning smell are Signs that indicates our Car is on risk of fire.


One of the common causes that contributes to car fire accidents.

A short circuit is an abnormal connection between two nodes of an electric circuit intended to be at different voltages. This can cause circuit damage, overheating, fire or explosion.

Loose connection, improper insulation , using substandard insulation tape, wrong connection, multiple inputs from one single output, poor quality wires, incorrect wiring gauge/resistance, incorrect fuse ampere, using nonstandard, poor quality generic gadgets, RODENT BITE , work done by unskilled labourers all leads to battery overloading and dangerous short circuiting.

Do not invite the rats for dinner by making the car interior shabby keeping with eatables and food remnants. Open the bonnet periodically for aeration.
People tried many repellents – Naphthalene Balls, Tobacco Leaves, Peppermint Oils, Pepper Powder, Ultrasonic Gadget, Bitter Liquid Sprays... no one thing would be 100% effective or long lasting. We need to try, repeat often or catch the culprit.
We would be lucky only when our local rats could not understand our intelligence.[lol]



A word of caution!
The DIY procedures shared in this Auto forum are done by Car enthusiasts who did a thorough analysis before doing it, without compromising the safety of the vehicle at any cost.
Kindly do not attempt to do anything that involves car electricals , car safety devices if you're not sure about what you're doing. However, those guides would be useful to monitor whether they are safer when installed by others especially when done by unskilled labourers.


(That never be overlooked as evaporation of fuel may trigger fire! )

Fuel Odor: If we smell fuel coming from our car, but it's coming from the engine compartment, rather than the exhaust, that points to a leak / evaporation in the fuel system- check Fuel pump and hoses.
Do not ignore Engine warning light: Stable allows you to check at the earliest; Blinking warrants immediate attention.

Fuel tank lid /cap area: Clean periodically and ensure the lid is closed properly; it is the first one to check when engine warning light appears.

Fuel Filling: Stop when cut off; do not over fill the tank. If you overfill your tank, it can cover the vapor intake hole with liquid gas, which can then be sucked into the charcoal canister. This can damage the canister and possibly other parts of the system, which will cause the car's check-engine light to come on.

Fueling at Petrol station: Do not run the engine in idle while filling fuel. The vapors of the fuel might come in contact with the heat produced by the engine and catch fire.

Decanting of Fuel: Be vigilant that the Petrol Bunk employee pours the right fuel – Petrol or Diesel. Do not run the vehicle if filled wrongly.


Missing Fuel need not be due to theft by human.

It is reported in Kerala State, attracted by the ethanol content in petrol, an exotic beetle attack fuel lines of cars. It is Camphor shoot borer (Cnestus mutilatus), a polyphagous ambrosia beetle, had been behind the mystery of missing fuel.

An invasive beetle, practically microscopic and it sniffs out alcohol, believing it may be the fermenting decay from the trees in which it bores. Since gasoline with ethanol has alcohol, the bug will eat through plastic to get to ethanol.

Missing fuel, drops and stains on floor, emanating petrol odor warrants a check and insect repellant to get rid off.

car fire1.jpg


Most obvious deathtrap situations happen when we are unable open the doors. It happens in centralized control mechanisms as the electrical control fails. The only option is to escape by breaking the window glasses as early as possible.
Cars are equipped with two types of glass structures –

For TEMPERED GLASS, just about any blunt object will shatter the window.
  • Keep an Emergency Safety Hammer close at hand at all times. Most models also feature a small blade for cutting through seatbelts.
  • Take the metal pegs from the Detachable Headrest, jam them down inside the area where the window goes up and down inside the door panel. Once you have them down as far as you can go, you can pull the headrest toward you until the window snaps (usually cracks up the middle). The glass should crack and fall away from the door.
For LAMINATED GLASS, you’ll need a different tool. Laminated glass is tough stuff. We need a battery-powered saw called windshield cutter.

car fire 1.jpg

car fire3 .jpg


They are good or bad, it is debatable. Most extinguishers are pressure vessels and are listed as hazardous if not properly secured and used in a right way.
If the car is burning, as a pressure vessel, it could explode. It also need periodical refilling or to be disposed off on expiry.

An ‘ABC’ (Electrical & Non Electrical source) fire extinguisher can indeed be used on a small car fire.

We need to pull the pin/key that seals the fire extinguisher and aim at the fire and press the handles together and should only use the fire extinguisher if it is safe to do so.


Yes. If you have a comprehensive car insurance policy, the insurance plan covers damages to your car due to fire. Rat damage insurance claim is admissible under the Own damage section of the Car insurance as the damage is caused by Accidental and visible external means.
No, if you have only third-party liability motor insurance for your car [sad]

CAR FIRE 2.jpg

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Thread Starter #2


Honoured Member
Sep 3, 2013
car fire.jpg

Over the past few months, there have been multiple instances of electric vehicles catching fire.
From a Tata Nexon Electric SUV that went up in flames to Okinawa and Ola electric scooters catching fire, EV fires have now become a regular issue.

Experts believe that EVs are just as safe as ICEVs as electric vehicles have fewer frictional parts than internal combustion engines, resulting in minimum wear and tear and complications.

Then, why are electric vehicles catching fire in India?


Defense Research Department of India (DRDO) Probe panel finds ‘lack of basic safety systems’.[frustration]

Batteries, like any other fuel, store energy and must therefore be handle properly. The battery management system (BMS) – primarily the software part of electric vehicles – was found to be seriously deficient across most electric vehicles that caught fire.

The easy availability of cheap Chinese electric vehicle kits has also led to the uncontrolled proliferation of electric vehicle makers across India.

Companies have already been told that many of the EV two-wheeler manufacturers have taken shortcuts. Their cells have failed the tests. In several cases, the venting mechanism is not there. They are bursting and catching fire. They are mainly poor-quality cells. Secondly, the battery management system is not even basic. A particular battery, when it’s getting overheated, must be identified and cut off. This is, in fact, what even a minimum functional BMS will do. These vehicles didn’t even have that basic identification system for failed cells.


The government is making a significant attempt to make electric vehicles safer, and more reliable by pushing through the AIS156 standard, which came into force from December 2021. AIS156 deals with hardware and mechanical compliance. Also, an open-source Battery Management System (BMS) is being developed by the Government’s NITI Aayog.

Always buy Electric Vehicle from a reliable,reputed manufature who has a track record.


Drive with care; Life has no spare.
With Warm Regards
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Jan 2, 2022
Excellent Sir.
The way you provide information on a topic - by gathering, analyzing, adding your own experience in a colorful and interactive way is really commendable.
Thank you for sharing such wonderful articles.
I need to get a few of my doubts clarified, can you please enlighten over these ones.

1. Why do the car's doors get locked during a fire?
2 Why do some cars catch fires while driving in hill tracts even though they are brand new, and no modifications carried out?
Thread Starter #5


Honoured Member
Sep 3, 2013

Thanks for your heartfelt appreciation.
Being also a teacher I love to share information.
A good information can't be from a single source, it must be from multiple sources and need to be examined for authenticity before it is shared with others.
I always believe, a teacher can feed only 25% of information that a student requires. The other 75% should come from his/her own quest, by learning from other's experience and by learning from his own experience @25% respectively.
Appreciate your QUEST (questions)– searching for more information. Shall reply soon, as I also need to clarify some of the queries raised by my friends.
Thread Starter #6


Honoured Member
Sep 3, 2013

A car is not a flammable material. It has its own fire retardant materials as per regulation.
But once catches fire, it is difficult to put it out.
Let’s take a look at what more to understand?
  • Why do the car's doors get locked during a fire?
In Modern Cars everything is electrically / electronically powered (including auto locking & unlocking mechanism) these days Like Power Windows, Centralized Locks.
  • When the fire is burning up the wires, resulting in short circuits that can mess up the control system.
  • Heat could also cause deformation and expansion of metal hinges in the locking mechanism that would prevent them moving.
(It need not be only due to fire, also possible due to water damage during flood.)

To escape, we may have to use manual overriding unlock methods, break open the glass by lifesaving hammers and need to be carefully handled the child safety rear door lock.

car fire a.jpg

car fire door.jpg

car fire door2.jpg

  • Why do some cars catch fires while driving in hill tracts even though they are brand new, and no modifications carried out?
Driving on a hilly terrains need some practice. Drivers tend to use the clutch/ gear more than a brake. If we use the brake too much to slow down while driving down, the brake will overheat, burn out, the heat from the brake can burn the tire and can lead to fire; even to brake failure, accident and fire.
Tips: Drive up slowly. Take your foot off the pedal completely when driving down a steep hill.
Use a low gear. Gentle on the clutch. Keep the air con off. Leave plenty of space.

  • Is only petrol inflammable?
Some people think so, and diesel is safer. Wrong, gasoline burns instantly and diesel can explode when overheated. Fuel stored in the car is more dangerous than any other item in the car.

  • Is it true that if a car has design faults then the car will catch fire?
Yes. If any design defect that may risk lives is found, car companies recall those vehicles and replace such parts.
BMV recalled 88000 cars due to fire hazard. MASERATI, the Italian luxury car maker recalled 50000 cars (Quattroportos & Ghibli) to replace them as found that the wires rubbing against the seat frame could cause a shot circuit and fire. FIRESTONE, USA recalled the cars fitted with one batch of their tyres, as found the material used is defective, gets burst and catches fire on exceeding certain speed. Design flaws can exist anywhere.

  • Any other important things that should never be ignored?
Bonnet care:
Do not leave any cleaning cloth, fluid bottles, while cleaning the engine part of the car as the engine heat on direct contact can catch fire.
I have seen people keeping tobacco leaves as rat repellent, that’s dangerous and must be removed before we drive. At Puducherry, one person was drinking while cleaning the bonnet and left the liquor bottle. The bottle exploded and the entire car was burnt.

Exhaust care:

The exhaust line of the car is designed as per safety regulations to have a controlled noise and push exhaust air at 900 degrees Celsius. Aftermarket redesigning of exhaust pipes for exhilarating sound and boost performance can make them getting hot and catch fire.

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Thread Starter #7


Honoured Member
Sep 3, 2013

In the past, cars run on Mechanical and Electrical engineering support. But today, predominantly shifted towards Electronics and ECM-Artificial Intelligence.
Today’s Drivers must be Smart rather than Good.
Technological advantages are more Features and Comfort. But Disadvantages are also more, which we should not ignore.

I would like to share some of my personal experience and other's experiences as well.

Trust, this might help us to be proactive and safeguard against fire accidents.

1. My First Experience- Fire in Premier Padmini (During1987)!

My first car was a pre-owned one, earlier owned by a minister's son. I was not knowing anything about a car as I owned a Royal Enfield Bullet.
Purchased, Got the Car attracted by external shinning body
Drove back home at Ooty via ghat roads from Bangalore. My friend was driving the car, on our way, we found some smoke erupting out below the dashboard area.
Stopped the car, and found out a loose wire rubbing against the metal frame, producing a spark.
Just extinguished with water from bottle, carefully insulated with paper as we didn’t have an insulation tape, ensured that is not touching any metal area. (Please note, water should not be used in AC electrical fire at home as it will electrocute).
Found a two wheeler workshop on our way, cut the naked wire threads, closed with insulation tape, and reached home.
Later found, the earlier owner had an illuminated RPM Meter which he removed later without properly disconnecting the line.
We were safe as those days even the dashboard used to be a metal structure.

2. Ford Fiesta - How escaped from fire hazard!

My friend who is living in Nagercoil District wanted to add a Dash Cam to his Ford.
As Ford dealer refused for aftermarket fitting, he went to a popular local auto electrician.
The electrician pulled the glove box roughly, just looked into the fuse box and added the new fuse adopter casually as though he is an expert in doing things for cars.
While returning back, friend noted dashboard instrument panel indicating Airbag warning light. He was worried, stopped the car, removed the fuse adopter to prevent any hazard.
Later it's found, that the Electrician selected a critical port & installed in a risky and unprofessional way.
(Read the right way here.)

3. Tata Nano - Battery Drain!

Unfortunately, Tata Nano cars had multiple fire accident before the product become popular and that’s one of the reason for its failure, apart from a low cost impression.
A friend's family purchased a Nano car. After a month, the car failed to start. Found the new battery drained unexpectedly, removed and recharged. The same experience repeated frequently, but the battery appears to be perfect.
The dealer was helpless. The dealer could not find anything as the battery gets charged at the time it reaches the workshop, after push start.
My friend was fed up.
Later, it was rectified after finding out the reason – The overnight draining was due to improperly installed relay for the aftermarket horns.
Car battery drain & overload should never be ignored.

4. Maruti Desire - Smoke below steering!

Once, while travelling in a cab, we felt interference in radio signals, flickering of speedo meter lights and a smoke under the steering wheel. We told him to stop the vehicle, got out of the vehicle.
After ensuring no more smoke, we examined the area and found the wire connecting extra switch for extra horns has come out and loose; it produced spark and smoke when touched the metal frames under the steering during vibration. Ensured connection properly.

5. IGNIS - Fuse Blown Warning Red Alert

Recently, when I was exploring fuses in my IGNIS for connecting the VCC lines for installing the Dashcam, I found out a RED ALERT warning in my dash panel.
The fuse panel lid diagram indicated two DOME lines, 5A and 10A. I wanted to ensure what this two lines exactly controls so that the safest line could be tapped. When I removed the OE fuse, it sensed and warned with sound by changing the colors of the dash panel to red and indicated ‘fuse blown’. I felt, it is a good safety feature.[cheers]
(Read here.)


I have seen people’s car is stuck in the middle of the road for want of simple tools like spanner, they trying to stop every other cars on the road for help.
It’s better to have important spanners, screw drivers, insulation tape, spare fuses, scissors and paper cutting stationary blades along with puncture / tire replacement kit.

Kindly share yours or any of your friend's experience to help others.

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Jan 2, 2022
The real time experiences shared here are interesting and really useful and one to be careful.
I also heard, even using a power bank in a car is risky, is it right sir?
I am expecting your observations over the recent accident at Kannur. Kerala where the young couple lost their life.
Thread Starter #9


Honoured Member
Sep 3, 2013
Kerala Kannur car fire accident:

I am extremely sad for the departed souls.

There is a thread exclusively over this issue by @Nairrk in TAI.

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It seems,

-The vehicle is Maruti Suzuki S-Presso which is around two years old, recently had an aftermarket Head unit.

-The origin of short circuit is under the dash, near the steering as the Police found, as there was not much damage in the bonnet or rear part of the car.

- First Police said the route cause was a short circuit and a bottle of petrol kept at the door side expedited the spread.

- Now the reason changed to bottle of sanitizer/perfume kept near the dashboard.

- The parent of the diseased girl said they could feel a slight burning smell a few minutes before the accident happened and he notified his son in law but as the lady was going through labor pain and the hospital was nearby, they decided to continue.

- Also it was said they could open the rear door and the rear passengers escaped.

I could not make an inference, why?

May be
The wiring done to newly added head unit or any other gadget /switch in the right side of the dashboard below steering probably might have got short circuited.

May be they would have added an aftermarket power window in front in a base model, and left OE manual in the rear, as those four rear passengers could escape. By the way the S-Presso (OEM) has manual buttons to unlock the car and it's a bit paining that the front side occupants failed to get evacuated immediately. Of course, It is also possible that a state of panic or shock delays such act, the metal doors would have got expanded, jammed and unable to open due to heat.

Another version says, according to the family members, that the only extra accessory fitted in the car was reverse camera.
If it is so, whether it is a design fault, if so why only in this S- Presso car?

We can’t blame one brand or make of car. It happened with many brands including Mercedes Benz.

Mercedes or Maruti, an accident is an accident. All accidents must be thoroughly probed without any bias or prejudice.

We still do not know the exact cause of fire. Besides it may be very difficult to prove the same.


I also heard, even using a power bank in a car is risky, is it right sir?
Shall write a detailed note over:

Thread Starter #10


Honoured Member
Sep 3, 2013

Power banks present a significant risk, particularly when they are used to recharge other devices.

We heard recently, Flight TR993 from Taiwan to Singapore was grounded after a power bank caught fire while the plane taxied towards the runway.

We have also heard; a power bank was believed to have recently exploded after being left under the hot sun inside a car in Kelantan, a state in Malaysia.


The market today is flooded with unbranded, cheap Chinese Music system, new horns. Substandard automobile accessories copy & counterfeits products.
It is also sold proudly as the First Copy, Second Copy… of reputed, reliable brands ignoring the adequate safety norms for design and quality.[frustration]

It is always better to buy from a genuine brand as we will find various protection such as Temperature resistance, Protection from short-circuit, Output voltage protection and many more.

Generally speaking, a good quality power bank would not explode in normal conditions. But its exposure to a higher temperature or wrong circuit may cause an explosion.

Factors that may lead a Power bank to explode:

Poor Quality Batteries
Batteries are the major components of power banks, are made from Lithium-Polymer batteries.
However, many unknown brands use counterfeit/recycled batteries in their power banks or use the Lithium- Ion batteries. This enables them to sell power banks at a very low price, ignoring that they carry severe safety risk.
Using a counterfeit, duplicate battery in the original gadget like mobile phones will also invite the risk.

Wrong Circuit Design:
BMS- Battery Management Hardware is the most important and intelligent chip/ part. It controls all these safety aspects.
Power protection: A well-made power bank must have power protection. This is a method that make secure that the battery stops charging once it has reached full capacity.
Short circuit control: A good power bank must have its circuit fully insulated to prevent short circuit. (Refer What is Short circuit below)
Temperature Control System: If a power bank has a kind of control such that once it hits a particular temperature, it shuts down to cool off.

Wrong Usage:

Using a low quality Power Bank, low quality cables with the power bank might kill the power bank and our life as well.[evil]
Exposing power banks to water damage, high temperatures (closed car under the sun). Overcharging of power banks are risky.

Why did Galaxy Note 7 catch fire even explode?
The explosion was triggered by the battery heating and fire while charging, as the charger and charging cable used were not genuine, The person applied an old Type-C adaptor which was connected with an unbranded cable. (Charging with original charger and Cable is highly recommended)


Trigger & Catalyst.
A car to catch up fire, there exists two things – Trigger & Catalyst.

The Trigger: The Short Circuit is the common trigger, apart from friction and heat. Heat makes things to explode like Power Bank, compressed containers like sprayers ('Canned air' is not the air we breathe. They contain a gas that is mostly compressed into a liquid, and some are highly flammable).

The Catalysts; are inflammable materials kept in the car that can create an air of fire, example Fuel, Foam, Plastics etc.,

Short Circuit - Circuit that causes more current flow than the wiring can handle. The wire gauge in turn depends upon the power required by the gadget linked. (Like we use different rating of wires for House Room AC, Water Heater and for regular bulbs)

A spark triggers when the positive (+) line (Due to Loose connection, damaged wires, improper insulations) touches the metal part of the car (body (-) ground)

Use of improper fuse / improper way that is more than the current capacity, passes the current with heat instead of breaking the flow.

Wrong Current flow are due to
  • Short to ground (The current instead of completing the intended circuit, goes back to body earth)
  • Short to power (Returning to the source itself).
- These creates Short Circuited fire hazard that is indicated by a fuse break (Blown) or an abnormal odor inside the car or smokes.


Take Care, Drive Safe [drive]


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