What can cause a car fire?

It all happened so fast—you barely understood what happened. You remember getting into your car, waving good bye to your parents, and switching on the ignition. As you began to pull out of the driveway, you thought you saw a spark and smelled smoke, so you put the car in park. All of a sudden, your 65-year-old father came running to the driver’s side door, flung it open, and helped you out. As you looked back at the car—the hood was engulfed in flames.

Your mother called the fire department, but by the time they arrived, the entire car was burnt beyond all recognition.

What could have happened? How exactly did your car become an incendiary device in less than 30 seconds?

What Can Cause Your Car to Go up in Smoke?

A recent study on U.S. Vehicle Fire Trends and Patterns, performed by the National Fire Protection Association, illustrates alarming trends in vehicular fires throughout the nation. According to their findings, 93 percent of reported vehicle fires and 92 percent of vehicle fire deaths involved vehicles such as cars, trucks, buses, recreational vehicles, and motorcycles. Further investigations suggest that approximately 500 civilian deaths, 1,500 civilians injuries, and over $1 billion worth of direct property damage is inflicted each year, all as a result of three distinct factors.

These common causes of vehicular fires include: malfunctions, collisions and arson.

Mechanical and Electrical Malfunctions

Nearly 75 percent of all vehicle fires result from a mechanical or electrical glitch. Considering how today’s vehicles include many electrical gadgets—radios, seat warmers, sun roofs, etc.—it may not be a surprise that malfunctions occasionally occur. However, an unfortunate by-product of malfunctioning equipment is fire. If a single wire, or mechanical device becomes damaged, it could create a spark which affects everything around it. These affects could then potentially ignite upholstery, fumes, gasoline, and other flammable items—creating a fuel powered bonfire.


Roughly 17 percent of roadway fires and 58 percent of car fire fatalities are results of auto collisions. These types of fires occur when sparks caused by scraping metal and severed wires, ignite flammable liquids such as gasoline and oil, and combustible fumes from crushed, punctured, or weak gasoline tanks. Likewise, oil vapors are specifically designed to ignite with the help of your engine’s spark plugs. If that ignition isn’t controlled, or too much vapor is expelled, an explosion could result causing a massive fire.


The remaining eight percent of vehicle fires were found to have been intentionally started by outside forces.

Getting the Help You Deserve When Someone Else Burns You

Treatment and care for car accident and burn injuries can be extremely extensive and costly. We don’t believe that you should have to pay for someone else’s mistakes, and you shouldn’t either. Call us today for a free consultation and review of your injury case. Insurance companies lowball clients all the time—but you could be entitled to much more. Unfortunately, you may never know how much more unless you get the best information from an experienced car accident attorney. You owe it to yourself to call, and we owe it to you to listen and fight for your best interests.

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