Almost 200,000 vehicles catch fire each year in California and around the country, and most of them do not go up in flames because of a collision. Problems with vehicle fuel or electrical systems are the most common causes of car fires, and these issues often become dangerous only after years of neglected maintenance. If a car does catch fire, its driver should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and then switch off the ignition. All occupants should then exit the vehicle and move a safe distance away.
Preventing car fires
Regular maintenance is the best way to prevent car fires. However, even well-maintained vehicles can catch fire if their drivers ignore warning signs like fuses that blow regularly, oil or fuel leaks, wires that come into contact with hot surfaces and rapid drops in oil pressure or fuel levels. Engines that run excessively hot are another indication that all is not well under the hood and a fire is possible.
Fires caused by defective cars
Poorly-maintained vehicles sometimes cause fires to start even when they do not go up in flames. In August 2020, investigators determined burning carbon spewed from the tailpipe of a poorly tuned diesel vehicle sparked a wildfire that consumed more than 25,000 acres of brush near Los Angeles and forced thousands of people to flee their homes.
Holding negligent vehicle owners responsible
Those who are harmed because of a car fire or a fire started by a car may pursue personal injury lawsuits if the accident was preventable. In these situations, attorneys with experience in this area could use police or fire department reports to establish negligence if they determine that the fire was the result of poor maintenance. Attorneys may also seek to obtain the vehicle’s service records or check to see if its owner ignored any fire-related recall notices.