Can a car engine explode?

In this blog, we will address the question “ Can an engine explode” and provide the occasions during which an engine can explode, giving an in-depth explanation about each situation for the user to get a proper understanding to avoid these types of problems. 

Can a car engine explode?

A car engine can explode on the following occasions.

1. When the Engine overheats  

2. When there is no oil in the engine or the Oil condition is bad poor

3. When engine oil pressure increases abnormally

4. When wrong fuel is used in the vehicle

5. When Foreign particles like sand enter the engine through a fuel system or Lubricant system


When the engine overheats

When the engine becomes overheated, and if the customer does not stop the engine immediately by seeing the temp gauge, the engine will seize. On many occasions, if the engine is used at high speed and overload conditions, the engine can explode, leading to mechanical parts and engine block crack or broken.

What are the critical reasons for engine overheating?

a. When no coolant in the engine

In most cases when coolant got drained out through leakage. The coolant can leak through any part of the cooling system. The main parts which can cause a coolant leak  

    1. Water pump

    2. Radiator Upper hose

    3. Radiator lower hose

    4. Radiator

    5. Cylinder Head Gasket

The defective parts must be fixed promptly through a proper Service garage and restore the coolant in the Cooling system to avoid engine failure or explosion.

b. When the Thermostat fails

When a thermostat fails, it leads to overheating. Then, we must replace the defective thermostat through a proper diagnosis and repair centre.

c. When Radiator Fan does not work

The radiator fan stop working due to one of the following

    1. electric circuit failure

    2. Coolant temp sensor failure

    3. defective fan

    4. In mechanical fan cases due to clutch failure

We need to fix the defect timely to avoid overheating.

d. when the cooling system get blocked

Radiator gets clogged – This may be due to the wrong coolant or water used in the radiator, leading to scaling and ultimately to Radiator clog. In most cases, it requires descaling or cleaning the radiator, and if not become ok, we need to replace the radiator

The cooling system clog is again due to wrong coolant and tap water usage. In this case, cooling system flushing is done by connecting the system through an external pump using descaling liquid.


When there is no oil in the engine or oil condition is bad  

When there is no oil in the engine, the engine seizes due to lack of lubrication and when high speed/overload conditions, mechanical parts can break through the cylinder block and cause an explosion.

The engine oil leaked out through any lubrication system parts usually lit the oil warning lamp in the instrument cluster. If the driver ignores the Oil warning lamp and continues driving leads to engine seizure or damage.

Bad oil condition occurs mainly due to wrong oil grade used or poor quality oil used, or oil is not replaced on time.

When Oil pressure increases

In most cases increase in oil pressure lead to Oil filter rupture and sudden loss of engine oil through the broken oil filter. In such a situation, before the vehicle stops, the engine could size due to no lubrication, and in many cases, the machine can explode due to high speed or high load conditions.

Usually, oil pressure increases due to any one of the following

1. failure of Oil pressure relief valve

2. blockage in the oil filter

3. Oil filter not replaced on time

4. failure of the oil pump

The defective parts need to be fixed timely to avoid such damages.


When wrong Fuel is used

When adultered fuel is used, engines tend to detonate before ignition occurs, leading to the engine exploding.

Most conditions for pre-ignition are

  1. Poor quality fuel is used, where the Octane No is below standard spec required for the engine
  2. Wrong fuel is used
  3. When some additives are used to improve power performance, which is not suitable for the engine can lead to detonation.
  4. High carbon deposits in the combustion chamber can lead to pre-ignition.
  5. Misfiring can happen due to any component failure, such as malfunctioning engine control sensors that give the engine control unit an input signal.

When foreign particles enter the engine chamber

1. Sand get pumped into engine combustion chamber due to malfunction of air filter such as poor or fake filter element is used

2. Sand gets pumped into the engine chamber due to fine sand particles which cannot be filtered through the air filter 

3. Mischievous situations such as third party involved in putting sand in the engine, fuel tank etc

When Sand or foreign particles enter into the engine lubrication chamber, the sand gets pumped into the cylinder, causing an abrasion on the piston. Also, bearings that generate engine seized due to prolonged usage without discovering the defect. It can lead to an engine exploding in specific conditions on many occasions.


In this blog, we have addressed the question “ Can an engine explode” and discussed five situations when the explosion can occur, particularly when the engine overheats or if there isn’t any coolant or oil present in the machine. These cases are the most common cases causing the engine to misbehave. Initially, the engine produces loud knocking and detonating sounds that can further lead to wearing/ breaking down of parts or engine explosion.


  1.   “Can A Car Engine Explode? – McNally Institute.” 2021. McNally Institute.
  2. “Five Most Common Causes Of Vehicle Fires | Action Towing.” n.d. Action Towing Edmonton. Accessed January 17, 2022.
  3. Vallet, Mark. n.d. “What Happens When a Car Engine Blows?” It Still Runs. Accessed January 17, 2022.