Torque Shop

There have been a few car fires on our roads. Some of the cars which went up in flames were fairly new. What is the cause and the precautions we should take to prevent such a disaster?

A common cause is an electrical fault. Sometimes, this fault can be traced to a fuse with a higher-than-specified rating. Shoddy workshops will install such fuses to minimise electrical trips, but this may cause heat to build up when there is a fault. Fires can start this way.

This is why the installation of after-market accessories must be done by reputable mechanics.

The wires used must be sized for the intended accessory while the fuse must be rated no more than the electrical-current specification of the equipment being installed.

The second most common cause of car fires is a fuel, engine oil or even transmission fluid leak. If the leaking fluid flows to hot zones such as the cylinder head or exhaust manifold, it could ignite.

Petrol leaks are the most dangerous. Hence, any smell of petrol must be attended to with urgency.

For older cars, wire insulation breakdown is common. When bare wire comes into contact with the car's steel body, short-circuit fires can occur. Loose connections pose a risk, too.

Household wires are not suitable for a car's direct current system. Also, avoid quick-release battery terminals that are sold online.

Finally, a fire extinguisher - not something motorists usually carry - can prevent a fire from doing more damage.

Shreejit Changaroth

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2020, with the headline 'Torque Shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe