How likely is your vehicle to spontaneously combust?

I ask that question because it happened recently (6/26/22) in Pittsfield.  It was a 2019 Subaru Impreza, smoke began coming from under the hood, and when the driver went to pull over the front of the car burst into flames.  Crazy stuff!  Thankfully no one was injured and the Pittsfield Fire Department quickly extinguished it.  The fire was ruled non-suspicious.

This got me thinking though…could this happen to me?  This was a 2019 vehicle that burst into flames, and it was a Subaru, which are by and large great cars!  I drive a Subaru.  How likely is this to happen?  What could cause something like this?  What are the warning signs?  Will the Pittsfield Fire Department have to extinguish a fire in my car after it decides to spontaneously combust?

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The good news is a car deciding to spontaneously combust, no matter the make, is pretty rare, especially if you’re not in an accident.  Actually, even if you’re IN an accident, the chances of your car catching fire are only about 3% according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Most car fires where spontaneous combustion happens are due to defects.  One of the biggest reasons is a fuel tank or fuel line that’s leaking.  With all the electronics in today’s cars, an electronic malfunction could also cause something like that.  A corroded battery or one that’s not installed properly could also lead to your car suddenly catching fire.

Some warning signs include a fuse blowing more than once, an oil or fluid leak that you see under your car, or if you notice your car’s engine temperature changing rapidly.  By the time smoke is coming out of your hood, you’ve potentially missed some warnings signs, and should obviously pull over immediately like this driver in Pittsfield did.

Regular maintenance on your car will often catch these problems before they turn more serious, so keep your car as up to date as you can.  In the meantime, keep an eye out for any of those warning signs, and know that while spontaneous combustion can happen, it’s a rare occurrence, especially in today’s modern cars.

You can find some more information here.

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