How does my car become a Flaming Lambo?

You’re driving on your usual route and you see smoke billowing out of a car stopped by the side of the road. No driver in sight, no accident scene – just the flaming car. Not a common sighting, but not an unknown risk either.

After some of our MiWayans mentioned that they’d spotted a burning car on the side of the N1 last week, a conversation was sparked (pun intended) and it only made sense for us to share with you some of the reasons that could lead to your car going up in flames.

What causes a car to go up in flames? Over and above the obvious reason of a car crash, these are other hazardous situations to consider.

Without further ado, here’s how your car could become a flaming Lambo:

  • Mechanical failure:
    Massive overheating through friction as a result of mechanical pieces getting stuck or not working as they should. These aren’t always easily detectable by the average driver - however good maintenance can decrease this risk.
  • Electrical malfunction or short circuit:
    Lately we are seeing more and more electrical cars coming onto the scene, but how safe are they from fires? In 2013, the Tesla Model S caught fire, proving that electrical cars are not immune from battery problems. This is actually said to be the second most common reason behind cars going aflame.
  • Oil or fuel leakage:
    There is a reason why oil and fuel tanks are designed  to avoid contact with areas that would result in a dangerous situation. When oil or fuel leaks out of the tank, it could come into contact with areas that are potentially hot enough to cause a fire. If you notice leaking fluid on your garage floor, get it checked out!
  • Design flaws:
    Although manufacturers will try to contain this situation by recalling cars before there are any incidents, your car may run the risk of going up in flames as design flaws can lead to mechanical failure or total malfunction.
  • Poor maintenance:
    Not taking proper care of your car adds to the danger of a car burning up. Leaving broken parts, faulty wiring or leaky seals to go unattended for any period of time is equivalent to throwing a lit match to the car and hoping it won’t burn.
  • Overheating catalytic converters (exhaust system):
    This a fire risk that is often overlooked and honestly shouldn’t be. Think about this – the exhaust system is one of the consistently hottest parts of your car and it runs the entire length of your car. Your car is designed to withstand the car’s standard exhaust system heat, but the added heat from an exhausted system can become too much to bear even for a car designed to take a lot.
  • Overheating engine:
    This cause is a good example of how one thing can lead to another – a car’s engine won’t overheat to the point of causing a fire all on its own, there is always a buddy fire starter. An overheating engine can make fluids rise to dangerous heat levels and spill over. If you notice your car’s engine overheating, you may want to get it checked out A.S.A.P.
  • Arson:
    One other reason that can’t be overlooked is human intent. Yes, cars may catch fire simply because someone set it alight. There are a number of different reasons as to why someone would go to lengths of setting their car alight – which we don’t condone.

A Guide to Road Safety in South Africa

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Popping the hood may be a schlep, but doing so from time to time could be beneficial to making sure that your car is not a rolling death-trap waiting to explode.

Should you find yourself in an unfortunate situation where you need roadside assistance, remember that the MiHelp team is standing by - 24/7/365.

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