Car Fire: What You Should Do

Car Fire: What You Should Do

By Cars.com Staff

Do

If you smell burning wires or smoke, or even if your temperature gauge is redlined, drive onto the shoulder and turn off the ignition.

If you are stuck in a middle lane and can’t pull over, turn on your hazard lights, stop the car where it is and turn off the ignition. Do not worry about the rest of the traffic — they'll get out of the way when they see the smoke and flames.

Get out of the car quickly, but be cautious. You don't want to get burned, but you also don't want to be struck by another vehicle.

If you are stuck in traffic, be sure to warn others around you about the danger. They may need to abandon their cars too.

Leave everything in the car. Everything.

Get as far from the burning car as you can. If the car explodes, you don't want to be anywhere close.

Call 911.

If the fire is confined to the interior and has not spread, consider putting out the fire yourself if you have an extinguisher in your trunk and know how to use it. Do this only if the fire is manageable. Gauge your safety first.

 

Don't

Do not panic. Panic is at the root of bad decision-making.

Do not roll the windows down and drive faster in hopes that the wind will put the fire out. Instead, the air and wind can fuel the fire and make it spread faster.

Do not swerve off the road without checking to make sure you're clear to do so. A fire is bad. A fire combined with a collision could be much worse.

Do not scramble for your valuables. A fire can engulf a car in a matter of seconds, especially if there is an oil or fuel leak.

If smoke and flames are coming from under the hood, do not open it. A sudden influx of air to the engine compartment can create a fireball that can engulf the vehicle and anyone around it almost instantly.

Do not assume the fire is out just because you can't see it.

Do not try to extinguish the fire with water. This is highly ineffective and unsafe.

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