A tow truck operator prepares to tow away a fire-damaged car from a California freeway. Automotive Fleet photo.
In 2015, firefighters responded to 174,000 car fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Since Oct. 8-14 is National Fire Prevention Week this year, now is a good time to review the warning signs of potential fire risk in vehicles.
State Farm recommends that drivers look for these red flags:
- Fuses that blow repeatedly
- Spilled oil under the hood left over from an oil change
- Oil or other fluid leaks under the vehicle
- Cracked or loose wiring, or wiring with exposed metal
- Very loud sounds from the exhaust system
- Rapid changes in fuel level, oil levels or engine temperature
- A missing cap from the oil filter
- Broken or loose hoses.
The National Safety Council recommends these measures if you smell smoke or see flames coming from your vehicle while you’re driving:
- Signal and immediately move to the closest safe place to stop, whether that’s a side lane or a median.
- Stop the vehicle and turn off the ignition.
- Get every person out of the vehicle, and don’t allow anyone to go back to retrieve personal items.
- Move far from the burning vehicle to avoid the flames and toxic fumes — at least 100 feet — and also keep bystanders back.
- Call 911.
- Alert oncoming traffic if possible.