Risk management

Fleet safety series

Prevent vehicle fires

Motor vehicle fires can be more terrifying than a serious collision. Although the frequency of vehicle fires is quite low, when one does occur, the severity is sky high. 

Some causes of vehicle fires are smoking, dragging brakes, overheated tires and faulty wiring and exhaust systems. We must be just as careful, if not more so, in our vehicles as we are in our homes. 

As you know, smoking is prohibited when you are transporting hazardous materials. However, it is also a good idea to refrain from smoking when driving. If you must smoke, be extra careful when disposing of ashes, matches and butts. The best place to end your smoke is in an ashtray. Discarded butts or ashes often blow back into the vehicle, starting a fire. 

Another safeguard against vehicle fires is regular maintenance of braking system. If the vehicle does not coast freely, the brakes may be dragging and initiate a fire. Have a qualified mechanic check your vehicle to assure proper adjustment of the brakes and wheel bearings. 

Did you know that a small pinhole in your exhaust system can be a dangerous fire hazard? The hot gases act as an ignition source and can combine with accumulated grease and oil, developing into a major fire. Again, constant maintenance is an absolute must to prevent a vehicle fire. 

It’s a good idea to have your wiring checked every time you have your vehicles motor oil changed. It only takes a few minutes to make sure that this fire source remains under control. 

Another major cause of vehicle fires is overheated tires. Under inflation is a principle source of tire fires. Under inflation causes the casing of the tire to continually bend and flex, and, like a piece of metal bent back and forth, the tire becomes hotter and hotter until a fire breaks out. 

Don’t let a vehicle fire put you down. Vehicle fires can start anywhere when conditions are right. Keep your vehicle clean, well maintained and avoid smoking or at least careless smoking.


Insurance products and services are offered through Markel Specialty Commercial, a business division of Markel Service Incorporated, policies written by one or more Markel insurance companies. Terms and conditions for coverage may vary by state.

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.