It’s scary to think about, but car fires do happen, even in modern cars. If a collision is severe enough, a gas tank or a fuel line under the car hood may rupture. These kinds of incidents tend to be rare. However, there are a number of ways that a car fire can start that doesn’t involve a car accident. Three of these are discussed below and with regards to automobile insurance.
Leaking Flammable Fluids
Your car contains a number of flammable fluids. Gasoline is the most obvious and flammable of these. The most common reason for gasoline leaks is poor maintenance on the owner’s part. Old fuel lines or a fuel injector can leak gas. If leaking gasoline contacts any engine part above 495 degrees Fahrenheit, it will ignite. Many engine parts reach temperatures higher than that.
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Other flammable fluids include automatic transmission fluid, power steering fluid, motor oil, brake fluid, and engine coolant. Engine coolant contains ethylene glycol which is flammable. Even if the coolant contains 50 percent water, the water evaporates faster than the ethylene glycol. Once the water evaporates away, you are left with 100% ethylene glycol which can burn if it contacts a flame, spark, or extremely hot surface.
Keep up with your regular maintenance schedule. A poorly maintained engine can mean more than a simple break down, it can cause a fire.
The catalytic converter gets extremely hot. Depending on your car’s clearance with the ground, the converter can ignite nearby flammable materials such as high grass if you pull your car off the road. It can also ignite gas fumes if you drive your car over a gas spill at a filling station.
Static Electricity At The Gas Pump
A static electricity discharge from your hand or clothing can ignite the gas vapors coming from the gas pump handle while it’s filling your car’s gas tank. This has surprised and injured many motorists. The static is often generated when people go back into their cars while their tank is filling up. Movement of their feet against the floor or movement across upholstery generates the static electricity which gets discharged when they go back outside and remove the pump handle. You can avoid this by never setting the pump handle to pump gas automatically. Always stay outside and pump the gas manually. The risk isn’t worth the convenience.
Fires can also happen when filling gas containers that are in a car trunk or sitting in the back of a pickup truck. Static electricity can build up on the container and discharge to the pump handle. Always place the gas container on the ground before filling them.
Since the fires described here are not caused by a collision accident, the collision part of your automobile insurance will probably not cover them. You will need to get comprehensive coverage. To learn more about covering your automobile against these kinds of accidents, contact us.
Robert Macoviak is the President of Oyer, Macoviak and Associates. Oyer, Macoviak and Associates is the oldest independent insurance agency in Boynton Beach and has been in business since 1953. Oyer, Macoviak and Associates are vested members of the community who are committed to doing business face-to-face and being your insurance advocate in times of need.