3 Things Everyone Should Know About Car Fires - OHS Body Shop

A car caught on fire might be the scariest thing you can see going down the highway. We all saw them at least once. We all feel sorry for the driver and passengers and hope they are safe. And of course, we all hope that it will never happen to us.

Of course, in 99% of cases, cars don’t get on fire as easily as shown in Hollywood movies. However, car fires are not that rare also.

In this article, we shall talk about why and how your vehicle may catch on fire and what you can do to prevent it or stay safe if it happens after all.

Car fires in numbers

US Fire Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provide some pretty scary annual vehicle fire statistics.

According to the recent data, 83.3% of cars that caught on fire last year were passenger vehicles. The good news is that vehicle fires have decreased dramatically since the 1980s. Experts say that it happens due to more advanced technologies and materials used in modern vehicles that prevent fuel leaks and electricity wire failures – the most common reasons for car fires.

From all the vehicle fires:

  • 20% happen due to equipment or design failures;
  • 25% are the result of poor maintenance and neglect;
  • 37% of vehicle car fires are unintentional;
  • 5% are acts of arson;
  • 13% of car fires happen due to unknown reasons.

Over 36% of car fires happen between May and August. Experts believe that it happens because, during these months, more people take long vacation road trips on their cars without checking them properly before that. 

It may be the reason why the numbers increased during the “Pandemic” period when cross-country road trips became the only vacation option for most Americans. 
Most car fires happen between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Those are The hootest traffic hours literally and figuratively – the period of time when the car’s systems are most likely to work overtime while you are stuck in traffic on a hot summer afternoon.

Over 60% of car fires start in the so-called “running gear” – wheels, suspension, steering, and engine. Those are the essential focus points for any garage routine check-ups.

Can my car catch on fire?

Now that you know that cars don’t only catch on fire as a result of Hollywood=worth collisions, you may start asking yourself whether your own vehicle is a fire risk.

Here are the red flags that you need to note:

  • The exhaust system makes strange and loud sounds;
  • The wiring looks cracked and messy. Exposed metal of wires is a huge fire risk;
  • Your engine “boils” frequently;
  • Oil, coolant, and other fuels run out fast or leak from the car.

Those are only the most obvious signs that your vehicle might be a fire risk. However, all of those symptoms are easily diagnosed and eliminated if you take your car to a reputable garage regularly.

What to do if my car caught on fire?

There are the essential DO’s and DON’Ts that you need to remember in case your car catches on fire:


  • If you are driving, pull over and stop the car in a safe area on the side of the road;
  • Turn off the ignition;
  • Get out of the car and remain at a safe distance where you cannot be affected by fire or toxic fumes from burning materials;
  • Call 911 and remain in the area until firefighters arrive.


  • Don’t try to be a hero and drive a burning car further away from other vehicles. A moving burning car is even more dangerous than a still localized fire;
  • Don’t try to put the fire down yourself, and never try to use water. An onboard extinguisher may be efficient for small fires, but it does not guarantee a safe and comprehensive fire-fighting;
  • Don’t let people approach the burning vehicle;
  • Don’t open the hood or remain in the car trying to find and eliminate the source of the fire.

What to do after a car fire?

If your car caught on fire as a result of an accident, the damage is likely to be covered by collision insurance. In some cases, the damage is minor if the fire is located and put down fast. However, due to all the flammable fuels and materials, cars often burn beyond repair.

Anyway, it is always best to have a reliable and credible body shop that can guarantee that regular routine checks minimize the car’s fire risks and any damage is eliminated safely and entirely.

Contact OHS Body Shop and schedule your next vehicle check-up. Our branches are located all over Montana’s Greater Flathead Valley, in Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Polson. Here you will get consultation and service from high-class mechanics who will make sure that your car is well-maintained and safe.