We’ve noticed more vehicle fires on BC highways lately – especially heading up mountain passes such as the Coquihalla.
That’s the bad news. The good news is most fires can be prevented with adequate maintenance on your car, truck or recreational vehicle.
Here are a few things you and your mechanic should keep an eye on.
It is extremely important to know (and adhere to!) how much weight your vehicle is designed to handle. That means being familiar with your towing capacity and load. An overloaded engine has to work harder than designed, which causes overheating and possible fire. Whether towing a trailer or not, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your temperature gauge, especially when climbing mountain passes.
A vehicle’s cooling system has a very important job, and should be regularly maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. The engine coolant reservoir should be checked frequently and topped up to proper levels.
It may be tempting to put off sealing that oil drip you spot on the driveway, especially if it seems small. But any petroleum based fluids and lubricants – whether from the engine, transmission, or power steering – can fuel fire. Leaks should be sealed immediately before accumulating around the engine and chassis or coming into direct contact with a heat source, like the exhaust system.
Exhaust systems start at the engine and run the length of a vehicle. And it’s hot – very hot. It’s no surprise, then, that exhaust leaks can cause fires.
You just installed a bumpin’ aftermarket sound system in your car. But did you do it right? Incorrect installation of stereos, batteries, starters and other electrical items can lead to fire. Wiring under the hood should never be too close to anything that gets very hot.
If your vehicle ever does catch fire, stay calm, and pull over as quickly and safely as possible. Turn the engine off and get yourself and any passengers out of the vehicle and well away. Don’t return to retrieve your wallet, purse, cell phone, or any other object. It’s not worth it. Move everyone well away from the burning vehicle and call 9-1-1. If your cell phone is in the vehicle, flag a fellow driver down for the call.
Do you have a vehicle fire prevention tip? Leave it in the comments section below.