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Car fires: What to do in an emergency and how to prevent one

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Collisions and mechanical failures cause most car fires. While passenger compartment fires are less common than engine fires, they can be more frightening because the smoke and flames are close. Here’s what to do if your car is on fire, and tips for preventing fires.

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  1. What to do when there’s a car fire

    • Pull over as soon as you can do so safely.
    • Turn the engine off.
    • Get everyone out of the car and stay at least 100 feet away.
    • Don’t open the hood. Flames could flare up.
    • Call 9-1-1.
    • Don’t go back for phones or anything else.
  2. How to prevent a car fire

    • Keep up with scheduled maintenance and annual inspections.
    • Make sure you use only approved replacement parts and modifications.
    • Don’t park in grass tall enough to touch parts of the car that heat up.
    • Be careful with gasoline. Use only approved containers, don’t carry it in the passenger area if possible, and never store it in your car.
    • If you must carry gas in the passenger area, only buy a small amount, seal the can, and keep car windows open.
  3. Fix these car fire danger signs now

    • Damaged or loose wiring.
    • Fuses that have blown more than once.
    • Loud noises from the exhaust system.
    • Rapid changes in fuel level, oil level, or engine temperature.
    • Spilled oil after an oil change, a missing oil cap or one that doesn’t fit.
    • Worn out or loose hoses.
    • The smell of burning rubber or metal.
    • Smoke coming from the engine or brakes.

 

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Last updated: 7/21/2022