Wednesday 26th June 2013
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With all the news lately about cars exploding should we be afraid? We usually think of cars exploding as a dramatic event in a movie, or TV programme. The fast action displays with special effects really make us believe cars can suddenly explode into raging fireballs.

Latest news on cars exploding

The journalist Michael Hastings tragically died recently due to his Mercedes-Benz allegedly just exploding. One minute the car was driving perfectly fine, the next minute it exploded into a raging fireball.

During May, a gas truck was reported to allegedly explode just north of Mexico City. The explosion instantly killed nineteen people and injured thirty six others as the fire engulfed nearby cars and homes.

A drag racer Matt Hagan miraculously escaped his 8000 bhp racing car when his engine suddenly exploded. The car turned into a raging fireball within seconds, and car parts began flying off just before the finishing line. This took place at the North Carolina Four Wide Nationals event.

During May, a motorist miraculously escapes death when a truck clips his car on the M4 motorway in Sydney, Australia. The car rolled a few times before it burst into flames.

The truth behind cars exploding

There is a big difference between a car suddenly exploding and a car that unexpectedly begins burning. Once a car's engine catches fire, it rarely turns into an explosion. However, that does not mean to say a car cannot explode, it just means it is quite rare.

When engines begin burning and the fire becomes rapid and out of control, it can appear that the car is exploding. Usually, there are smoke warning signs when an engine catches fire beforehand. This forewarning should provide drivers and passengers to evacuate their car as soon as possible. People are often killed in car fires due to ignoring the warning signs.

The reason behind cars burning so rapidly is because of all the plastics and foam inside the cars. These days, all plastics and foam are fire retardant; they still burn but not as rapidly as they would if they were not flame retardant. Car fires normally start when there is a fuel leak, this is due to the fuel seams being shared; metals go into places where they shouldn’t and holes can appear in the engine due to a collision. Fuel in itself will not catch fire because it is not a natural explosive. It needs those fractions of metal, holes and air to combine and produce a spark which in turn will create a fire. Before a fire rages out of control, it needs to reach approximately 500 Fahrenheit.

For a car to actually explode it requires a lot of hot gas and a confined space such as the fuel tank to be ignited. Spontaneous explosions can also occur due to a faulty ignition switch which is very rare. Hence, it is safe to say that our cars should not explode like in the movies.

Have you been in a vehicle that has ever caught fire or exploded? If so, what do you think are the reasons?