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Do Cars Really Explode When on Fire?

Do Cars Really Explode When on Fire?

The car explosion after a rollover or crash is common in Hollywood movies, but these visuals are much different from real-life facts. Almost 60 to 65% of car fires occur due to damaged wheels, engine, and gear issues.

Do Cars Really Explode When on Fire? Cars can explode when on fire, but it rarely occurs under specific circumstances which allow flames to reach the fuel tank. However, cars can blow up within 20 to 40 minutes of fire when the hot and pressurized fuel begins to leak out of the engine compartment. Moreover, the damaged electrical components or wires and the presence of flammables can initiate an ignition. Furthermore, it can also occur due to overheating in the engine, broken fuel lines, and poor maintenance. 

The onset of explosion during car fires depends on the accident type and damage to the automobiles. Therefore, it is essential to prevent fires primarily to avoid igniting and producing flames.

Avoid overfilling the fuel tank and keep the catalytic converter at a distance from flammables to minimize the risk of explosion.

Is it common for a car to explode when on fire?

Fire risk is common in cars when they bump into another vehicle or roll over the road. It can lead to an explosion with only a 20% to 30% chance.

Almost 150,000 to 200,000 automobiles in the US catch fire annually and pose a high risk to drivers’ lives, as reported by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).

Moreover, it can lead to an explosion when the fuel vapors come into direct exposure to flames. The release of smoke from an engine indicates that your vehicle is going to catch flames.

Furthermore, the vehicle’s mechanical issues and raised engine temperature beyond a specific limit can make it prone to fire.

Smoke coming out of the engine and undesired changes in the fluid level indicates that the car will blow up soon.

In addition, the leaks, sparks, and temperature changes pose a risk of fire that can burn the vehicle.

The type of an accident and the way it catches flames determines whether it results in an explosion or not.

Why do cars explode when on fire?

The cars can blow up in rare cases or under specific situations when you ignore their maintenance or due to accidents.

Leakage of oil

It is better to show attention to fluid leakage as it can lead to serious outcomes. It is common in vehicles that are not properly maintained and checked by the auto-mechanic.

When the gasoline gets hot, and the temperature reaches 42 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, only a single spark is enough for fire.

BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) can also lead to the generation of flames involving pressurized and hot fuel exposure to fire.

The increased temperature of the engine compartment containing pressurized liquid can result in a fire that can cause the vehicle to blow up.

The flammable fuel vapors begin to combust after ignition, and the engine can explode when these vapors catch flame.

In addition, the gas tanks can also get punctured due to debris or some sharps that can also be responsible for leakage.

Therefore, you have to fix the leakage to avoid a catastrophic situation and never ignore such fuel leaks.

Damaged electrical components

Hydrogen accumulates around the engine during the battery charging process, which is highly flammable and causes a blast during a fire.

Faults in the electrical system can be responsible for sparks and explosions. Therefore, properly securing batteries is essential to reduce the risk of the hazard onset.

The worn-out wires connected to the seats, dashboard, and doors and the blown-out fuses or the loose ones can ignite the hydrogen on the engine surface.

Flames can also produce after ignition of the wire insulation and is responsible for almost 25% to 29% of such hazards.

Poor car design

A faulty vehicle design, like an incorrect adjustment of fuel lines, can create problematic situations later. For example, it can increase the chances of an explosion when a car catches fire.

These fuel lines have to be at a proper distance from the electrical system to reduce the risk of flames reaching the fuel.

So, it can be due to faults on the manufacturer’s side that require re-adjustment of these lines into a safe position.

Poor maintenance

Automobile components can lose their integrity over time, so you have to maintain them properly.

According to a report by USFA (United States Fire Administration), almost 42 to 45% of these issues occur due to mechanical failures.

Drive your automobile to the mechanic who can examine the condition and suggests you the best possible solutions.

It can help detect leaks in seals or hoses, wearing of electrical wires, and many other internal issues.

Presence of flammable materials

The chances of explosion can increase when you place flammable materials inside the vehicle.

When propane tanks are present in an automobile, the flames can react with it and explode the whole metallic structure within a short duration.

Similarly, the devices like a bomb can make your car burn and tear up into pieces.

Overheating in catalytic converters

An increase in the temperature of an engine and the exhaust system can be responsible for these issues. They can overheat when they have to burn excessive pollutants present in the exhaust gas.

The damaged catalytic converters can generate flames after it gets extremely hot due to an excessive load of burning pollutants in the exhaust gas.

What happens after an explosion when a car is on fire? 

An explosion can damage your vehicle entirely in a short time. The fire usually starts from an engine and extends to other automobile parts like the transmission.

Moreover, the spark plugs can blow out, and the spark ignition can burn the whole electric system.

The smoke affects the car’s system, including the ventilation systems that control the temperature of an internal environment.

The paint can lose its firmness and shine due to burning flames after severe damage by the fire.

Most of the damages are irreparable because a maximum portion of the vehicle is damaged after getting burned, and it is impossible to fix it.

How can I prevent an explosion when a car is on fire?

You can prevent an explosion of the car when it is on fire by turning an engine off quickly. It is essential to block fluid movement out of the compartment to get control exposure to flames.

You do not only have to protect your vehicle but protect yourself from burning due to fire. Some preventive measures can ensure your safety, like getting out of the automobile within a few seconds.

Move to a safe place that should be many feet away from the burning vehicle and call the helpline 911 so they can get better control it.

Accordingly, it can take almost 20 to 40 minutes for a car to explode after it gets to fire, so you have to be quick to get out of it and reach a safe distance.

Avoid parking your vehicle near flammables like dry grass can catch flames at a good speed and it can explode.

Furthermore, go to a mechanic for regular maintenance and check if the fuse is blown up or the engine compartment is punctured.

It is better to keep fire extinguishers to overcome the burning flames, if only in a small portion.

Is there any risk of explosion in electric cars?

Electric cars can also explode like other vehicles, which are not battery-based. Direct exposure to heat or high flames to the lithium-ion batteries can lead to a severe explosion.

These batteries can explode, but it rarely occurs as they are widely used in many portable devices and considered safe.

However, any structural defect can raise the possibility of bursting batteries in electric vehicles when exposed to flames.

So, there is a lesser risk of being blown up in electric vehicles compared to others due to their resistant batteries, which can control the flames from reaching inside. 

Can cars explode from overheating?

The explosions can also occur due to heat buildup inside the engine compartment that causes overheating.

The coolant helps reduce the engine’s temperature and the buildup of heat, but it cannot perform its function when the cooling system begins to leak.

In addition, a clogged hose and issues in the functioning of a water pump or a fan allow heat to remain inside the compartment.

The fluids begin to leak and ignite when they come in direct contact with the hot parts of an engine.

So, it is not difficult to avoid overheating as you have to assess its functioning frequently to recognize the issues in time.

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