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Everyday items could cause car fires

17 July 2018

VENSON HIGHLIGHTS the everyday items that could spontaneously combust if left in a vehicle on a hot day.

As the heatwave continues to sweep the UK, with temperatures reaching as high as 30°C, Venson Automotive Solutions is warning drivers of the dangers of leaving certain everyday items in their vehicles.  From inflammable goods such as disposable cigarette lighters and aerosol canisters, to canned fizzy drinks, there are numerous things that can potentially cause damage to an interior of a vehicle and which could cost hundreds of pounds to repair – or worse still, cause an accident or injury to the driver or passengers.

It may sound like an urban myth, but a cheap disposable cigarette lighter left on a car dashboard was recently implicated in a car fire due to the sun’s rays causing it to catch fire. A car is essentially like a greenhouse when it is parked in direct sunlight, with it taking a mere 10 minutes for the temperature inside to climb to hazardous levels.  A cigarette lighter has the ability to explode in high temperatures which can cause damage to glass inside the vehicle or burn holes in the seats.

Gil Kelly, Operations Director at Venson says, “Whilst a disposable cigarette lighter causing a fire in a car or van on a hot day is very rare, there are other everyday items that can still create a lot of damage to the interior of a vehicle.  Some drivers take the risk of transporting combustible items including petrol in containers that are not ‘fit for purpose’, increasing the risk of spontaneous combustion. 

“Drivers need to be mindful that when they leave their vehicle parked up, especially for long periods of time, they remove any objects which could cause damage through exposure to high temperatures, including items on the dashboard, seats, rear parcel shelf and boot.”  

What NOT to leave in a vehicle when the temperature soars*

  1. Disposable lighter: Lighters are very dangerous to have in a vehicle because they have the ability to explode in high temperatures which can cause damage to glass inside the vehicle or burn holes in the seats.
  2. Pens: Maybe small but can burst and leave ink in the vehicle. Clean-up can be expensive and stains a challenge to remove.
  3. Aerosol cans: Whether lubricants, paint or deodorant the pressure inside the container can build-up and explode in high temperatures. Check the side of the can for storage instructions.
  4. Disposable batteries: Heat can make acid in batteries prone to leaking. If this happens when left on a seat it can burn holes in the upholstery.
  5. Plastics: Plastics can melt in high temperatures, and never drink from a plastic water bottle that has been left in the car. Chemicals in the bottle's plastic could leak into the drink and cause health problems.
  6. Petrol canasters: If the vehicle heats up from the sun, vapours inside the canaster can expand and the increasing pressure will not allow the vapours to escape, which could result in the canister exploding.   Make sure you use a ‘fit for purpose’ canister.
  7. Canned carbonated beverage: If left inside the vehicle in blistering heat, can blow up.