Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Top 10 Causes of Car Fires

Lots More Information


Do People Really Lose Body Parts by Sticking Them Out of a Car Window?

Do People Really Lose Body Parts by Sticking Them Out of a Car Window?

Is sticking your hand out of the window of a moving car really dangerous? Learn more about traumatic injuries in this HowStuffWorks article.

Author's Note: Top 10 Causes of Car Fires

A lot of the facts about car fires seem like common sense. For example, most car fires start in the engine compartment, which shouldn't be any surprise to anyone who's ever popped the hood to have a look at what goes on in there. And if your car catches on fire, you should always try to get as far away as possible. (Instead of, say, standing around filming it, setting it to Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" and then posting it online. I saw this once in a video, back when I was a moderator on a Volkswagen forum and a well-known member's car mysteriously went up in flames. Honestly, that was all I could think about the entire time I was researching and writing this article). But maybe that's being too harsh. Vehicle fires are scary, and the movies and TV would have us all believe that any car that's on fire will immediately blow up. Just don't pull out your phone to check this list (or film the fire) until after you're a safe distance away.

Related Articles


  • "Catalytic Converter." (Oct. 8, 2013)
  • Chandler Law Group. "Common Causes of Car Fires." (Oct. 5, 2013)
  • Eisenstein, Paul A. "Ford finds software fix for engine fire problems." NBC News. Dec. 10, 2012. (Oct. 5, 2013)
  • Hirsch, Jerry. "Probe of Chevrolet Volt fires ends; safety regulators OK GM's fix." Los Angeles Times. Jan. 21, 2012. (Oct. 5, 2013)
  • Mobil 1. "Replacing Relays in Car Electrical Systems." (Oct. 8, 2013)
  • National Fire Protection Association. "Vehicles." May 2013. (Oct. 5, 2013)
  • Panzarino, Matthew. "Elon Musk Details Cause of Tesla Model S Fire, Says It Would Have Been Worse With Gas." TechCrunch. Oct. 4, 2013. (Oct. 5, 2013)
  • Vlasic, Bill. "G.M. Recalls 475,000 Chevy Cruzes to Fix Engine Fire Hazard." The New York Times. June 22, 2012. (Oct. 5, 2013)
  • Walters Forensic Engineering. "Motor Vehicle Fires." (Oct. 5, 2013)

More to Explore