How to know if my car engine is about to explode?

This blog post will answer the question, ‘How to know if my car engine is about to explode?’, and cover topics like reasons behind a car engine catching fire, what to do if a car engine catches fire, and how to prevent a car engine from catching fire.

How to know if my car engine is about to explode?

These are the following signs to look for to determine whether a car engine is on fire and about to explode or not:

  • Fuses act as a protective covering for the electrical connections in the car, and they might be blown due to an excessive increase in temperature. This can indicate a fire outbreak inside the engine.
  • A loud banging sound can be heard from the car exhaust system in case of a fire outbreak.
  • Engine temperature suddenly increases in case a fire breaks out under the hood.
  • There are sudden drops in the fuel and oil levels in case of a fire outbreak, which is indicated by unusual fluctuations occurring in the fuel and oil gauges.
  • A distinct burning smell is present inside the car, indicative of a fire outbreak.
  • There might also be the occurrence of tires burning or bursting in the event of a fire outbreak.

Reasons behind a car engine catching fire and exploding

These are the most common reasons to justify a car engine catching fire.

Car accident

Modern cars are equipped with a protective covering over their most critical components like the engine, the gas tank, and the car battery. These are known as crumple zones. In case the force of collision exceeds the damage absorption capability of these zones, components can be damaged and start a fire.

Failing electrical systems

The electrical system in a car can largely contribute to starting a fire inside the car. This can be caused due to a loose or a wrongly connected wire that can ignite a spark here and there and result in a fire outbreak.

The battery can also be a potential cause of a fire outbreak as a faulty charging cycle can cause the accumulation of hydrogen gas inside the engine and any current that flows through this can ignite the gas, causing a fire outbreak.

Leakage in the fuel system

A car has a lot of harmful and flammable liquids inside the engine. In case of a car accident, the fuel system gets damaged due to the force of the impact, it can leak out gasoline, which is highly flammable. 

Even a tiny spark that is ignited after the accident touches, it can start a huge fire.

Engine overheating

In case of excessive overheating of the engine, it causes the spillage of other nearby flammable liquids and they might come in contact with the overheated engine or any other heated area and start a big fire.

Excessive heating of catalytic converters

The catalytic converters are one of the most heated components in a running car. They filter the hot and harmful exhaust gases from the engine into less harmful water and carbon dioxide gases. 

They can have operating temperatures of up to 900 degrees celsius. These temperatures can easily exceed 1000 degrees in case the catalytic converter is clogged. This excessive heating can trigger an explosion and start a fire.

Catalytic converters can also cause fires if their protective shields cannot absorb the constant dust, dirt, and other debris that hit them.

What to do if a car engine catches fire?

These are the following steps to take in case the car catches fire.

If the fire starts while driving the car

If the fire breaks out during driving, take the following steps to ensure maximum safety:

  • Park the car by the roadside and turn off the ignition
  • Secure all passengers out and away from the burning car
  • Make sure all passengers are at a safe distance from the incident
  • A fire extinguisher comes in handy in such situations but it should only be used if the flames from the car are able to be doused.
  • In the case of a burning car, it should be noted that the hood and the bonnet must not be opened to douse the flames as they are the most extreme and might cause burning.
  • In case the flames coming out of the car are not easily extinguishable, the fire department should be contacted immediately to prevent further damage.
  • The car insurance providers need to be informed about the situation as well.

If the fire starts while parked or in traffic

These are the following steps to be taken in case the fire breaks out while the car is in a parked position or while being stuck in traffic.

  • In case of noticeable fumes from the engine, it is with immediate effect that you should vacate the vehicle
  • Make sure all passengers are secured at a safe distance from the vehicle
  • The surrounding civilians in other vehicles and all passers-by should be alerted of the situation so they can move away as far as possible
  • In case of the flames are not being extinguished by a fire extinguisher, immediately contact the fire department
  • The car insurance company needs to be informed of the situation as well.

How to prevent a car engine from exploding?

These are the following steps to be taken to prevent both a fire and an eventual explosion from starting in the first place:

  • Regular maintenance
  • Check for any fuel leakage
  • Make sure the car is equipped with a fire extinguisher
  • The car should not be parked near a flammable gas source
  • The car engine must be turned off while performing a fuel refill
  • In the summer months, park the car in an enclosed area or a garage
  • Smoking inside the car can be a potential source of igniting a fire and should be prohibited.

Research has shown the factors necessary for consideration when selecting the best-suited fire extinguisher for a car.


This blog post addressed the question, ‘How to know if my car engine is about to explode?’.

We came to understand the various reasons that contribute to igniting a fire inside the car engine and causing it to explode eventually and also learned the various steps to be taken in case of a car engine catching fire. Furthermore, the steps necessary to prevent a fire outbreak and a potential explosion in the car engine have also been discussed.  Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to know if my car engine is about to explode?

What does it mean if your engine is on fire?

This indicates that there might have been an electrical fault or a defective battery leading to a fire outbreak inside the engine. It can also be caused by a leakage in the fuel system.

What type of fire extinguisher can be used for engine fire?

For an engine fire, it is advisable to use a class C fire extinguisher.

Can you pour water on an engine fire?

Water and foam are dangerous and should be avoided as a means of dousing a fire as they are good conductors of electricity. Instead, carbon dioxide can be used for this purpose.


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