Over the last couple months the news has reported multiple car fires in our Portland Metropolitan area. These car fires were spontaneous and not caused by an accident.
According to the National Car Care Council each year they are seeing statistics that prove more car fires are occurring each year due to deferred maintenance rather than accidents.

Unlike collision damage that can be repaired, serious vehicle fires often result in a “total loss”. These fires burn really hot and can reduce the strength of metal, fire can buckle body panels and this is almost impossible to repair satisfactorily. The cabin of the vehicle can melt, glass can be damaged and the burned wiring can also be very expensive to replace or repair.

These types of car fires can almost always be avoided with a few simple precautions. Having regular annual inspections performed on your vehicle, performed by a qualified technician is recommended. These inspections can be easily performed with an oil change or regular service, a quick lube service is not going to provide this, you really need to see your trusted repair facility who takes care of vehicles in their entirety. The following things should be inspected:

1) Check for fuel lines for cracks, splits, softness and deterioration. Have any questionable ones replaced before they start leaking, and have any fuel leak repaired immediately.

2) Keep the engine compartment clean. A filthy, oil-soaked engine is a fuel source looking for a fire. A clean engine compartment also makes it easier to find fuel and other fluid leaks.

3)Keep the engine ignition parts replaced as they wear, leaking spark can ignite a fire if there is a fluid leak.

4)Clean out trash from the floors and under the seats. This is especially important for smokers, a lighted cigarette falling on trash could start a fire.

5)Adding aftermarket electronics like stereos, remote start systems and alarms if they are improperly installed can lead to fires. So having them professionally installed is generally advisable so that all wiring is insulated properly.

6) Carrying a fire extinguisher in each car, that is properly stored or mounted in an accessible place is also recommended just in case of a fire.

Preventative maintenance is really the key to keeping your vehicle safe, dependable and on the road with longevity. Preventative maintenance is like regular teeth cleanings and check ups at the dentist, they can prevent bigger problems down the road. Steve and Karen Johnston are the owners of All About Automotive, Inc. in Historic Downtown Gresham, OR. You can contact them at 503-465-2926 or at [email protected].

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