Connect with us


Why Cars Catch Fire, How To Prevent Such



Why Cars Catch Fire, How To Prevent Such


By Igono Joseph Okeme


It is almost common to see vehicles going up in flames in Nigeria. It is really a helpless sight to behold. The occupants, if lucky, escape the raging infernos and some, who are not too really lucky, get killed as a result of various degrees of burns sustained in such incidents.

On one instance, when I was returning from one of the holy ghost services at the Redemption Camp early in the morning some months ago (I’m not by all means trying to be a religious PR here), I suddenly saw a Corolla ’08 in flames on the road. The owner of the car was nowhere to be found. Maybe he had gone to look for ‘water’ to fight the fire. Note of caution please; don’t use ordinary water to fight an inferno. That accelerates the fire because fuel is denser than water.

That day, before 8:00am, the car was totally burnt to ashes.

You could imagine environmental, economic, and psychological impacts that incident must have caused the owner, and the environment.

What would have happened, if other adjacent cars caught fire? Imagine the ripple effect of that for a minute.

Incidences like these occur in Lagos, especially areas where vehicles are at close proximity with each other.


For a fire to start, there must be the presence of AIR, FUEL, and a HEAT SOURCE.

There are lots of causes of car fire incidents.

The most common ones are:

  1. Fuel (petrol). Leaks along fuel lines pose a dangerous threat to safety here.

Cars with a leaky injector nozzle system seals can allow tiny droplets of fuel drop on hot spots on an engine, or exhaust system, thereby leading to a fire. These seals are usually weak, when they are exposed to tremendous heat from the engine, and the atmospheric temperature of the environment. Normally at 60,000miles, such seals lose their sealing properties, and create fire risks.

  1. Electrical issues. When you open up the hood of your car, you see bunch of wire harnesses, connectors, etc, acting as a conduit for the flow of current to various components of the car.

If any of these wiring harnesses has a SHORT CIRCUITS problem, the flow of current would be limited, at the load, leading to the current traveling to an undesignated route. This route could be the body of the car, which acts as a ground. This undesired current flow that has found a new path, could trigger a fire. If for instance there’s already a source of fuel provided it by a leaky fuel system component. Bu!!! you hear. Suddenly there’s a fire raging.

  1. Exhaust system. All internal combustion engine applications work through lots of friction and stress in order to produce the motion for the movement you and I enjoy when we drive our SUVs, or in a “danfo bus”. But have you ever thought that those applications could go through temperatures of up to 2000C? With this kind of extreme temperature, coupled with outside temperature, that might be in the range of 30-40C, what do you expect your engine to do? A clogged catalytic converter would generate even more extreme temperatures that could instantly lead to a fire. Even car owners look for an escape route when faced with the heat from traffic logjam on the road and work stress. You escape that by putting on your car’s AC system to take away that heat in exchange for a clean cool air. Isn’t it? OK. Same thing happens to your engine. This extreme temperature is exited through the exhaust system of the car, and straight to the environment.

Now, how does that exhaust system looks like?

Fuel system routed close to exhaust systems are at risks of causing car fires.

Manufacturers, over the years, have routed fuel lines away from exhaust systems, and even shielded the exhaust systems with shield materials to protect excess heat from setting off fires. Some fuel system lines also use heat shields, to help reduce the risks of fires.

  1. Oil spills. Engine oils and automatic transmission fluids spill on engine components like the transmission system, cylinder heads, exhaust system manifold, rotating driven solid shafts, and on engine chassis, etc can cause car fires.

The reason being as these spills gradually builds up into a sludge on those components, they trap dirt made of combustibles, making them susceptible to generating heat and smoke, and then results into a fire while driving.


The most effective way to prevent car fires are:

  1. Carry out preventive maintenance checks on all fuel, exhaust, and electrical systems at every oil change. These checks would help you determine their integrity, and eventually point out potential problem areas before they occur.
  2. Ensure all maintenance/repairs carried out on the car’s fire prone systems, such as the fuel, exhaust, and electrical systems are properly done.

Proper laid down procedures regarding repairs and safety must be strictly adhered to. Do not allow your mechanics to tell you, “Oga. It doesn’t matter to put on an exhaust heat shield, or let’s manage the fuel line clips. It won’t do anything”. If you currently have a mechanic like that as your mechanic, you have to run brother!

  1. Carry out steam washing of the engine bay monthly, or so. That would reduce the accumulation of oil spill build up on the engine area.

If you’re scared of allowing your engine to be steam washed, you could hand wash it.

***use solvents such as petrol, or diesel fuel, to help remove oil spills, and apply a soapy  solution to wash the affected parts mildly.

NB: Ensure the cars ECU (commonly called brainbox), and ignition control modules are protected from water sprays because they could foul the system and cause you tremendous money fixing them.


Well, I know some of us are so religious when it comes to predictive maintenance and stuffs like that. But I think it is cool for you to have some tips on your hand just in case, perhaps, your neighbour’s car catches fire, this is what you should do.

  1. If you notice smoke billowing out of the car while driving, pull over off the road to a safe place and park.

Don’t open the hood because there’s the risk the fire could spread further because opening up the hood creates more oxygen intake for the car and that accelerates the fire.

  1. Get out of the car as soon as possible If you can.

Do not attempt to return back to the car to rescue your laptop, galaxy note 7, and even your jewellery. I think it is better you’re alive than die in that fire; doesn’t make sense to me though. But maybe that’s not my business.

  1. Disconnect the power source if you can. Some cars like Benz, BMW, Renaults don’t have their batteries located at the front. They’re at the rear or at the front passenger seat. Be bold enough to disconnect the positive terminal in order to cut the current supply to the electrical systems.
  2. If you’re courageous enough, fight the fight with a recommended fire extinguisher class type recommended by your safety agency (FRSC); it could be a class B, or C, depending on the specifications recommended.
  3. Call the fire service immediately if you’ve got no guts to stand against a fire.


Car inferno don’t just start like that.

And even if they do, take preventive maintenance checks very seriously. Try monitoring the kinds of jobs and the safety/repair procedures your car mechanic employ fixing your precious car. If you don’t, someday, you might just laugh-cry.

Hope this piece has enlightened someone on this platform.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via

1 Comment

1 Comment

Leave a Reply


Why Adoption of Electric Motorcycles is Slow in Nigeria, Others—Report



Electric Motorcycles

By Adedapo Adesanya

A new report has shown that more than 90 per cent of electric motorcycles sold in sub-Saharan Africa are not built for African conditions as the continent battles infrastructural challenges.

The Charging Ahead – Accelerating e-mobility in Africa Report from the Powering Renewable Energy Opportunities (PREO) programme forecasts that electric motorcycles are set to be a dominant force in sub-Saharan Africa’s sustainable mobility transformation, but continued investment in start-ups tackling barriers across the value chain will be critical to maximising the full potential.

It was revealed that Sub-Saharan Africa, where Nigeria belongs, remains largely reliant on internal combustion engine (ICE) motorcycles for transportation and employment opportunities. Infrastructural challenges force underdeveloped regions to rely on two-wheeler vehicles.

The reliance on ICE motorcycles comes with relatively high running costs and long-term environmental implications from the use of fossil fuels.

The report showed that as concerns around fossil fuel-powered vehicles grow, opportunities for alternative solutions that will decrease carbon emissions remain, adding that the electric motorcycle sector presents a viable solution to the challenges caused by high-emitting, costly ICE vehicles.

The report outlines the market opportunity for e-motorcycles to become a driving force in the African e-mobility sector as, according to an analysis by Mordor Intelligence, the market for motorcycles in Africa was worth $3.65 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow to $5.07 billion by 2027.

However, to accelerate progress in the e-mobility sector and meet the demands of a rapidly expanding customer base for two-wheelers, there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed. These include improving the availability of durable hardware, reliable charging infrastructure, and access to high-quality battery solutions.

Also, poor grid infrastructure means baseline electricity access is not reliable enough to support renewable battery recharge networks, and the electricity supply is weak.

In addition, high-quality battery suppliers prioritise global buyers able to order at volume, which leaves small start-ups out of the picture.

Speaking on this, Mr Jon Lane, PREO Programme Director, comments: “Investing in e-motorcycles provides a path to more sustainable and equitable growth across African communities and addresses the urgent issue of climate change.

“Through our work with several start-ups, we have identified opportunities for a full ecosystem of solutions that address challenges across the value chain. We hope this report demonstrates the impressive progress being made by companies in the e-mobility sector and will act as a call for investors, policymakers, and partners to engage and collaborate to help meet the scale of the challenge.”

Continue Reading


Lagos Stops 50% Discount on Transport Fares for BRT, Others



BRT buses

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Lagos state government has announced a full return to the price of all bus rapid transit (BRT), Standard, and FLM with effective from Saturday, April 1.

In a notice seen by Business Post on Tuesday, the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) said it would be reverting all its regulated buses fare to a 100 per cent rate.

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, had on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, approved a 50 per cent slash in bus fares following the cash crunch brought about by the recent currency swap.

Now, following the supreme court and federal government’s pronouncements on the use of old notes alongside the new notes and return of stability to the system, “the 50 per cent rebate is hereby discontinued,” it said.

“Consequently, bus fares return to pre-50% slash rate effective Saturday, 1st April 2023,” the statement added.

The development was received with mild concerns from commuters and residents who said the move was political at best.

Recall that the Governor was declared the winner of Saturday, March 18, governorship election in the state after winning 19 of the 20 local government councils in the state, scoring 762,134 votes.

His closest rival, Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party, scored 312,329 votes, while Mr Olajide Adediran of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got 62,449 votes.

Continue Reading


Volkswagen Opens New Vehicle Assembly Plant in Ghana



Volkswagen Assembly Plant Ghana

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A new 5,000m² vehicle assembly facility located near the Port of Tema in Accra has been opened by Volkswagen as part of its commitment to the development of the automotive industry in Ghana.

Volkswagen was the first automotive company to be registered under the Ghana Automotive Development Programme (GADP), and this new investment strengthened the brand’s presence in the country and the region.

Recall that in August 2020, Volkswagen awarded an assembly contract to Universal Motors Limited (UML) as its licenced importer in the West African country.

But with this latest development, Volkswagen will take over the new vehicle assembly responsibility from UML, which assembled models such as Tiguan, Teramont, Passat, Polo, Amarok and T-Cross on behalf of Volkswagen using Semi-Knocked Down (SKD) assembly kits imported from South Africa.

“Ghana is an important market for our Sub-Saharan Africa expansion plans, especially in West Africa, where we have identified opportunities of developing a collaborative automotive industry hub amongst the countries in the region.

“The hub concept will ensure that each country with an automotive development policy or economic interest in the automotive industry has an important role to play in the supply value chain. We believe AfCFTA will be the catalyst which will unlock trade barriers and promote regional collaboration amongst the countries,” the Chairperson and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa, Ms Martina Biene, said.

“Volkswagen is fully committed to Ghana and in supporting its industrial transformation agenda despite the current economic challenges facing the country. We are here for the long haul.

“Our company believes in long-term investments which are nurtured through mutual relationships with like-minded partners.

“Ghana’s commitment to the development of its automotive industry is evident in the GADP, which is still the blueprint automotive policy in the region in terms of creating an enabling environment for the establishment of an automotive industry in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Ms Biene added.

Ghana is the fourth Volkswagen assembly location in Sub-Saharan Africa. The other locations are in South Africa, where Volkswagen has been manufacturing vehicles for over 72 years, as well as Kenya and Rwanda.

Volkswagen has a presence in 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, where it sells passenger and commercial vehicles through licensed importers.

“As the last frontier for the global development of the automotive industry, Sub-Saharan Africa has become very important for the sustainability of Volkswagen. We are therefore accelerating our growth strategy on the continent by playing a pioneering and leading role in the development of the automotive industry,” commented Ms Biene.

Continue Reading
%d bloggers like this: