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Report: Car fires happen more often than you think

Oklahoma auto accident attorneyCar fires caused by mechanical or electrical defects are often unavoidable and can come with little warning. Many Kia models have been under scrutiny after a slew of sudden fires broke out.

One Oklahoma family's vacation in Hawaii took a tragic turn due to a fire involving a Kia Soul, according to KHON2. Now that family is taking legal action against Kia and the rental company for the death of their son, who suffered third- and fourth-degree burns over 85 percent of his body.

According to Consumer Reports, car fires linked to mechanical and electrical defects are a larger problem than many of us may believe.

In response, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated about 3 million Hyundai and Kia models due to their heightened fire risks. Automakers confirmed that the risk has led to 3,000 incidents and the automakers have agreed to comply with the investigation.

How often do car fires happen?

Hyundais and Kias aren't the only fire-prone cars being scrutinized. The Consumer Reports article also discusses safety concerns being raised by Tesla's electric cars following the internet circulation of images and videos depicting cars engulfed in flames. In response, a company spokeswoman referred Consumer Reports to a 2012-2018 Vehicle Safety Report, which asserts a rate of one fire for every 170 million miles traveled.

Data released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), however, concludes that the overall rate is one fire for every 19 million miles driven.

Staggering figures released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) finds that between 2014-2016, an estimated 171,500 highway vehicle fires happened across the US — resulting in 345 fatalities and 1,300 injuries. More than 80 percent of the fires reported were passenger cars and only five percent were caused by crashes. The most common causes of car fires were:

  • Mechanical failures — 45 percent
  • Electrical failures — 21 percent
  • Misuse of flammable materials — 13 percent

How deadly car fires can be prevented

Fatal car fires may not always be prevented but the risk can be significantly reduced by following some guidelines. Know these risk factors:

  • Burning rubber or plastic odor
  • Cracked wires, loose wires, and fuses that blow frequently
  • Oil or fluid leakages
  • Loose oil cap
  • Quick changes in fuel or oil levels
  • Sharp increase in engine temperature

What to do if a fire is imminent:

  1. Quickly pull over, shut off the engine, and get out of the car.
  2. Make sure passengers exit the car safely and get more than 100 feet away from the car.
  3. Do not go back to retrieve personal items. Your insurance policy may cover the value of lost items.
  4. Call 911 as soon as possible or have someone call on your behalf.
  5. Only use a Class B or Class C fire extinguisher from a safe distance.

Following these guidelines may help reduce the chances of a car fire occurring in the first place:

  • Routinely have your car serviced by a mechanic.
  • Check for loose or cracked wires and having them repaired.
  • Keep your engine at a normal temperature.
  • Carry only small gas containers and keeping windows open for ventilation.
  • Keep larger gas containers and propane cylinders out of the passenger compartment.
  • Keep your catalytic converter away from flammable materials and dry grass when parking.

Should you or a loved one be injured in a car fire, you can trust the attorneys at Lawter & Associates Attorneys at Law PLLC to launch a thorough investigation and help you build a solid car accident claim. The automaker or car parts manufacturer may be held accountable for any injuries caused by their defective products.

We proudly serve injured motorists throughout Oklahoma. Contact us online today to learn how we can help.

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