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Photos shared in TroTro Diaries (TTD) Facebook group by Paul K Boafo indicates that someone’s 2015 registered Ranger Rover has caught fire in the middle of the road at Awoshie Baah yard, in Greater Accra Region.
Residents of the area did all they could to put the fire out but their efforts proved futile as the fire totally destroyed the car:
Why do cars catch fire?
Some of these factors include:
- Fuel system leaks – A leakage in the fuel system is pretty much the most common cause of vehicular fires. There are a number of complicated factors that lead to a fuel leak, not to mention the fact that these come with very little warning. Fuel system leaks are highly fatal. Your cars come accompanied with fluids that have caustic, toxic and extremely combustible characteristics, and gasoline easily beats out the rest to the top. At just 45 degrees Fahrenheit (or 7.2 degrees Celsius), gasoline can light up from one tiny spark. And if temperatures touch 495 degrees Fahrenheit (or 257.2 degrees Celsius), it self-ignites. If you ever notice a lingering smell of gas in or around the car, find and fix the issue immediately!
- Electrical system failures – Electrical system malfunctions are the second most common cause of car fires. Car batteries have always been a source of trouble, and not just the hybrid and all-electric vehicle battery pack types. The average battery has the capability of giving your car a good deal of grief. Its charging cycles let highly volatile hydrogen gas to build up in the engine bay. Any surge in the electrical current (alongside faulty or loose wiring) can generate sparks that set off leaked fluids or vapors. This isn’t just restricted to the area beneath the hood. Electrical wiring happens to run across the entire length and breadth of the car; through channels, into doors, under the carpet and through powered and heated seats etc. It only takes one overlooked wire to wreak complete havoc.
- Spilled fluids – As we’ve mentioned earlier, the standard car is made up of a number of inflammable fluids such as gasoline or diesel fuel, engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and even engine coolant. All of which are in circulation once you start the car. It takes one blow to their lines, hoses or reservoirs to burn down the car. There’s obviously no precedent for the fluids flowing through the car to catch fire without any just cause. Which means something else has to go wrong first. Let’s also not forget the fact that all of them happen to be combustible, a problem in and of itself. Combine these with other aggravating factors, and you find yourselves dealing with a full-fledged fire! Any explosion will have its origins in the engine bay, yet you can never ignore the fact that most of these fluids flow across the entire length of the car.
- Overheating engines – A car’s engine is seemingly not enough to burst into flames all on its own. What does take place is the engine overheating just enough to allow internal fluids, like the oil and coolant, to heat up themselves. This, in turn, leads them to trickle through to the engine bay and onto the exhaust system, landing on other heated parts, where they easily light up. An overheating engine means immediate mechanical attention. You’re usually dealing with a leaky seal or gasket, an improperly functioning radiator, or a number of other factors.
- Overheating catalytic converters – This is one aspect we don’t pay much attention to but is actually something that needs to be highlighted. Just picture this: the exhaust system is both the hottest and constantly operating part of your vehicle. Not to mention the fact that it runs across the entire length of the car. Catalytic converters tend to overheat when they work up a sweat trying to burn more exhaust pollutants than they’re equipped to deal with. Case in point: You’ve got an engine that feels sluggish because there’s some problem (maybe a worn out spark plug). Which means it won’t burn fuel as efficiently, resulting in a clogged up exhaust system. This means your car’s got to put in a lot more work than necessary, causing it to touch mercurial temperatures. Once the catalytic converter gets burning, it could light up the cabin insulation and carpeting right through the heat shields and metal floor pan.
- Arson – Arson is the deliberate act of setting fire to any property and is a criminal offense. Now, we know it’s not the leading cause of vehicular fire nor is there a fathomable reason for anyone to deliberately torch a car. However, it’s just as much a contributing factor and can never truly be ruled out. It could be the result of a cover-up job, in case of a burglary or some other sinister crime. It could just be vandalism – destroying something just for the sake of it. Or it could be part of an elaborate hoax like insurance fraud. Whatever the reason, it’s pretty easy to set a car on fire. An arsonist can use any number of catalysts to start the fire and can sometimes even get away with it. After all, any physical evidence that might have been present has been burnt to a crisp.
- Collisions – Depending on the contact as well the amount of impact generated, a car crash is also responsible for starting a fire. Most vehicles’ are equipped with sheet metal that restrains the strength of a hit and protects internal points like the engine, the battery, and even the gas tank. However, it’s not that much of a barrier, and a solid blow is likely to cause fluid leaks and spillage, as well as a tremendous amount of heat and smoke – the perfect provisions to set things ablaze.
- Inadequate maintenance – Carelessness is often the leading cause of accidents, none more so when it comes to your cars. It might not be the match that sets off the explosion, it still is a factor that fans the flames. If you’re careless about maintenance, you expose your car to a lot more danger, and a car fire is an occupational hazard of the risk that you’re taking. Neglecting to take care of your car is most often the indirect cause of vehicular fires. Something that’s bound to happen when you choose to ignore broken parts, leaky seals, faulty wiring, engines with a bad gasket prone to oozing hazardous, highly flammable fluids, frayed wiring etc.
- Manufacturing defects – A manufacturing flaw won’t usually cause a car fire on its own but provides an environment that readily encourages a fire, and sometimes even creates situations where an outbreak of a fire is imminent. Most often than not, the manufacturers fix things up before anything critical ensues. They begin recalling their vehicles off the streets because let’s face it, no automaker wants to be known as the one that roasts its customers. Literally. As with any vehicular fires, a design flaw is just the first of many moves that result in a fire. There’s always a chance for certain defects to exacerbate the situation and cause an outbreak of flames. Almost every significant automaker has recalled a vehicle due to a fire hazard.