Car fires are fierce and frightening and if you have ever been near one you will know just how hot they are, but for many people the prospect seems a very distant one. This is more the case with general drivers than people who race but often even those who spend their time flying round a track still don’t really consider the reality of a car fire. There are not always avoidable, but in some cases they could have been stopped early on with a fire extinguisher.

One thing that is often forgotten is that once a car fire takes hold the car itself will change. Much like a house fire, the car becomes less stable and things start to melt, pop and potentially explode. In this video the car on fire is rather unfortunately, on a hill it may look as though the force of the water from the hoses actually pushed the car back but it is more likely to be the hand brake cable snapping in the intense heat. Once it goes the car begins to pick up speed and becomes a substantially more damaging prospect.

There are a number ways a fire can be extinguished, there is even some research going on into using sound waves but sometimes the situation itself lends a hand. It was not only good luck that this fire happened when it was snowing, better luck a snow plough was passing buy, but the real luck was the driver of the snow plough skilfully using his vehicle to put out the fire. Sadly, the majority of car fires don’t happen in such lucky situations and need to be dealt with in more conventional ways. The fire may well be out but not only would the recovery team have had to get a burn out car onto a trailer but they might just have had to do a little digging too!

Sometimes you just need to ask the professionals for help. Tackling a car fire yourself is dangerous, it should really only be a last resort but if the car is your pride and joy, a classic or a person is still inside you may decide you decide to attempt to deal with the fire. If you have a fire extinguisher in the car it is highly recommended you learn how to use it, ask the supplier to show you if you need advice. This clip shows just how efficiently a car fire can be put out when you have more water pressure than Neptune’s manhood and you know how to use it. All credit to the brave chap who lifts the bonnet and then leans in to prop it up with his trusty axe!

The big fear most people have when a car is on fire is the petrol tank exploding. Naturally with diesels it’s not such an issue but in most cases this never happens. The fuel tanks are designed to withstand a substantial amount of heat and hopefully stay intact until the fire is put out. There are however a number of other things in a car that could go pop at any time during a fire. Once again this video shows some pretty brave firemen getting stuck into a car fire. Despite the man’s apparently unshaken assault on the flames I would imagine this explosion from the bonnet area certainly made him jump to say the least. Only a man would pretend it was nothing and carry on as normal, even it was just an act. As to why they don’t use the enormous gap at the side of the bonnet to lever it open is somewhat of a mystery, perhaps they just wanted to use the power tools! Who wouldn’t? This video does highlight that you should be incredibly careful when approaching any fire, but especially a car fire where there are always at least 3 different types of liquid in sealed containers that could go bang under the increased pressure at any time.

The causes of a car fire can be varied, it could be faulty electrics, hot brakes during racing or even something stuck under bonnet that should not be there but this video shows a rather unusual situation. According to the description the owner essentially got water in the head and caused a massive misfire. In an attempt to “clear” the cylinder he basically revved the engine as hard as he could, this poured fuel into a cylinder that was not burning it, in the process the fuel made its way into the catalytic converter and as that heated up so did the fuel! You can see bits of the cat coming out of the exhausts before the whole system blows up, shooting flames from under the car. The video shows just how fast and how destructive a car fire can be.

Fires happen, you cannot always do anything about them but having a fire extinguisher installed in your car is certainly a good start and it gives you a chance to try and control it before it gets to big. This might just give you time to get out or it might even allow you to stop it. It is always wise to call the fire brigade even if you think the fire is out, car fires can reignite very easily if left smouldering.

Companies like are able to supply and fit a number of different types of fire extinguisher and can give you the appropriate advice on what type is the best for you. Large high street chains may supply fire extinguishers but without the correct information they can be useless, or worse…dangerous.