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Old 2nd August 2009, 21:32   #1
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Default Electrical Fires in Vehicles

The news about the BMW fire in Ahmedabad and the related discussion is already on T-BHP. A relevant issue has been also raised about the Escaping central locking in an accident.

Apart from these there have been several instances reported on T-BHP and elsewhere too, about the vehicles catching fire all of a sudden due to electrical wiring problems. (I have myself been witness to one such incident when a parked car in our neighborhood suddenly started belching smoke from the bonnet followed by the flames soon after, and by the time the owner arrived, it was reduced to ashes).

Clearly there are quite a few of such fires.

Now some questions to the Stalwarts, and in particular with to those Electrical Wizards:

What kind of protection is provided in our cars against the electrical fires? (I am aware of the fuse, but surely all the cars that faced the problems too had them and were unable to prevent the fire).
Can we not fit any safety devices? (For example something similar to the overload circuit breakers in the industrial or household electrical systems)
Is there anything that one needs to do/check/test on a routine basis to avoid such fires. And is there anything that we should avoid?

(See the links below to read some of the fire incidences reported on T-BHP, where electrical problem was known or suspected to be the cause).
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...s-minutes.html (BMW Burned To Ashes In Minutes!!!!)
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/modifi...-accident.html (Escaping central locking in an accident?)
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...red-ashes.html (Santro Xing : Charred to Ashes)
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...la-flames.html (Toyota corolla in flames)
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...ches-fire.html (Swift Catches Fire)
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...-warranty.html (Ford Fusion Caught fire:Will company cover warranty)

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Old 2nd August 2009, 23:47   #2
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As i have seen here in Delhi , the major reason is using unsafe wiring practices for After market horns , relays , ICE .Most installers never give two hoots for using inline fuses .Also the mentality of people of not ever opening the boot for visual inspection .
It is best not to modify the vehicle too much and using good quality fuses (not the substandard one ). Modification should be done by people who know the car inside out like which wire is going where, doing what , rating of wire used , connectors , couplers etc.
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Old 3rd August 2009, 11:29   #3
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- Not carrying fire extinguishers
- Overloading the electrical circuit
- Not cleaning electrical connectors
- Leaving wires exposed without insulation
- Ignoring warning tell-tale signs of impending electrical failures
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Old 3rd August 2009, 12:02   #4
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Some precautions that all of us can adopt:

1. Give the bonnet area a once-over every time you fill up at a petrol pump. This can go a long way in detecting loose parts, wires and anything else that may need attention. A detailed glance around your engine area doesn't take more than 30 seconds.

2. Minimise aftermarket fittings (those that make alterations to your car's electrical system), and for the accessories that you do purchase, install only by a reputable high quality shop.

3. Carry a fire extinguisher in your car at all times.

4. Protect your car from rats. Related Thread (How do you protect your car from rats?)

5. Use ONLY OEM parts when its time for repair / maintenance.

If anything, the BMW 7 series accident taught us that no car is death-proof. Drive safe, guys.
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