Vehicle Fires: Why They Start and How to Avoid Them

Even in mild fender-benders, car parts or engines may be damaged. This damage can be dangerous and may lead to serious consequences — including vehicle fires. Vehicle fires account for 20% of all reported fires. Recently in Salt Lake City, a vehicle fire blocked an I-15 off-ramp after a collision. After these accidents, many car owners wonder what they could have done to prevent it. In this post, we identify common types of car fires and tips on avoiding them.

Causes of Vehicle Fires

Vehicle fires can start in many different ways, especially since there are so many moving parts in a car. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Design Flaws

Sometimes an error in a car’s design or manufacturing can lead to a vehicle fire. Last year, GM recalled 1.4 million cars because of a defect that could cause engine fires. Be sure to heed any recall notices you receive regarding your vehicle.

  • Collisions

As with the recent Salt Lake vehicle fire, collisions often trigger vehicle fires. If you are involved in a collision, try to get away from the cars as soon as possible. Keep yourself safe from a potential blaze.

  • Hybrid/Electric Batteries

If you think your car is immune because of its electric battery, think again. When an electric battery is punctured in a collision, it behaves as any other battery would: it explodes.

  • Overheating

Overheated engines and catalytic converters can cause fires. To keep these from overheating, ensure that your engine is operating efficiently. This means keeping spark plugs in good shape and performing regular maintenance on your car to catch leaking fluids before they cause a problem.

  • Electrical Failures

Electrical failures often lead to fires. Your car’s battery can cause a buildup of highly flammable hydrogen gas in the engine bay, and if this meets a spark, your car can easily ignite.

  • Fuel System Leaks

Leaks in a car’s fuel system are the number one cause of vehicle fires. Gasoline is, of course, meant to ignite, but only in a controlled environment. If a fuel line leaks and drops fuel onto heated metal, then a blaze can start and spread rapidly. The best way to prevent this is through regular and thorough maintenance. Replace any fuel lines that appear to be rotting or damaged in any way.

Your Utah Injury Lawyers

Car accidents, whether they result in a fire or not, can be traumatic. They also frequently cause serious injury. At Christensen & Hymas, we are privileged to serve our community here in Utah. Our Utah car accident lawyers regularly represent injury victims and help them recover financially. We are experienced winning large settlements for our clients.

If you are injured in a car accident, please contact us. We will answer the important questions about your case and get started on building a winning injury claim.

Photo copyright to

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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