Do you know that more than 300 people are killed each year in a car fire? While I hate to start a blog post with a gruesome statistic, this is an eye opener for car owners who think that a car fire can never happen to them.

The risk is real folks and some of the causes of a car fire are more stupid than you’d imagine.

With a diligent eye and by following a few simple safety procedures, anyone can prevent a car fire from occurring.

Here are seven simple methods to keep your car from exploding into flames when you least expect it to

Drive Safely

Didn’t expect that this would be the first step, did you? Turns out that collisions with other cars are account for almost 4% of car fires and by not driving recklessly, you not only reduce the risk for yourself but also your co-passengers. Also, while driving, keep an eye out for potential fire hazards. If you are driving through an area in the aftermath of a natural disaster, like a storm, the risk of downed power lines or other damage caused to infrastructure can be potential risks. Ensure that you keep a safe distance from anything that can trigger a fire in your car.

Keep the car clean

If the interiors of your car look like a trash can then you are just waiting for a disaster to happen. Paper, debris and any other kind of trash can allow a fire to spiral out of control. Not to mention that on a hot summer day, the interiors of a car can get so hot that they can even trigger a fire. Keep your car clean. It doesn’t take too much anyway.

Also, be aware of the upholstery material in your car. A lot of cars these days use synthetic polymers and other plastics for the interiors and these can catch fire sooner than you’d imagine. Along with the heightened risk of fire, these can also release toxic fumes if they catch fire.

Be careful while installing aftermarket products

The NFPA reports that several car fires have been traced back to poorly installed aftermarket products. At the forefront are stereo systems. A stereo system will create a network of wires that run the length and breadth of your car and even a simple crack in the wiring exposes it to potential inflammables. Always hire a professional mechanic to assess that the installations have been completed satisfactorily.  P.S. Let your insurance company know about any aftermarket products or modifications that you may have carried out to your car.

Periodic Maintenance

Periodic preventive maintenance is the easiest way to avoid a mechanical or electrical car fire. Also, this will help you save on expensive repairs down the road. What’s even better is that it is easier than what you’d expect it to be. Just open the hood and give it a close look. Anything that does not look normal should be inspected closely. It goes without saying that the fuel lines deserve a lot of your attention. So, check closely for fuel injectors gone bad or a cracked fuel line that can leech gasoline into a hot engine compartment. The older your vehicles, the higher the chances of these occurring are. Along with this, check your coolant, brake fluid, engine oil, power steering fluid and antifreeze levels. If you are unsure about how to do this, then read your car owner’s manual.

Never carry inflammables in your car

That’s a no-brainer. Don’t carry gasoline or any other inflammable substance in your car. If it is unavoidable and you have to carry it, ensure that you carry it in a sealed container and keep of the windows open for ventilation.

Maintain your car battery

Fuel lines or faulty wiring are not the only possible causes of a car fire. An ill-maintained battery can also turn into a potential fire hazard. The constant charging cycles of the battery release hydrogen which when clubbed with the inflammable liquids in your engine and the electric current of the battery can easily spark a fire. Thankfully, maintaining a battery is easy. Just ensure that there are no leaks, check for any buildup near the battery contacts and keep a battery cleaning brush handy.

Carry a car fire extinguisher

A car fire extinguisher can help you douse a small fire before it spreads or grows into a big one. And there’s a whole variety of fire extinguishers to pick from. However, you need to be aware of the different types of extinguishers and their compatibility with different types of fires. For a car fire, dry powder or foam spray extinguishers are the best bet because they can douse almost any type of car fire. Click here to read our recommendations for the best car fire extinguishers.

Some people also install smoke detectors and other safety equipment like flares or reflectors.

Along with these seven basic steps, it is also equally important to know what to do when a car fire breaks out.

  •           Stop the car in a safe location or to one side of the road where it cannot cause damage to property if possible.
  •         Release the hood lock. But do not attempt to raise the hood as more air entering it can cause the fire to spread sooner.
  •            Exit the car and help your co-passengers exit safely.
  •           Get almost 100-150 feet away from the car.
  •           Call 911 and ask them to dispatch emergency services
  •           If it is possible, warn any oncoming vehicles about the fire from a safe distance

The only possible situation in which you can attempt to douse the fire is if the fire breaks out inside the car and you have an extinguisher within arm’s reach. External fires (Outside the car) can be closer to the fuel line and will be more difficult to handle than you imagine. So, let the experts handle it.