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6 things to remember if your car catches fire

2017-01-17 11:37

TAKE PRECAUTION: In light of Ford Kuga's catching fire, here are advice on how you can protect yourself. Image: Twitter / Arrive Alive

Laykin Rudolph

Cape Town - When smoke billows from your car it does not necessarily mean your vehicle will catch fire - although it can be quite scary and matters can quickly escalate if you don't address the situation immediately.

A vehicle fire poses a serious danger to you and your passengers. 

To protect yourself and your occupants, we spoke to Arrive Alive editor Johan Jonck and Vishal Premlall, director of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA).

'Stay calm and don't panic'

Jonck says: “I believe that we need to be pro-active and not wait for such an event to occur. If you are the owner of a vehicle and/or the manufacturer in the limelight, I’ll advise that you visit your local dealer.

"Your safety, and the safety of your family, is worth taking the time to visit your local dealer to have your vehicle checked before you continue using it."

Arrive Alive suggests the following tips if your vehicle is smoking/on fire:

  1. Although this can be difficult it is important to stay calm and not panic.

  2. If you notice the smoke or fire while your vehicle is moving, signal and pull over to the side of the road.

READ: #FordKuga - Twitter reacts to huge SUV recall in SA

  3. Make sure to turn off the ignition, this will stop the electric current and flow of fuel.

  4. If the vehicle is on fire, move away from the burning vehicle. 

  5. Call emergency services from a safe distance.

  6.  Be cautious of putting the fire out yourself. There is always a risk of an explosion and toxic fumes coming from the car. 

For more safety tips on the Arrive Alive website, click here.

Premlall adds: “If you smell fuel, this could mean a fuel line is loose or there is a fuel pipe leak. Faulty controls may be indicative of a problem with the vehicle. Make sure to look out for warning signs on your dashboard, a spike on your temperature gauge and smoke or heat waves coming from your bonnet."

Arrive Alive notes road authorities recommend that vehicle owners be equipped with these auto escape tools:

Life Hammer

The LifeHammer delivers a fast and efficient escape from an upturned, submerged, or immobilized vehicle. Its accurate steel points cut windows with one strike. The razor-sharp blade slashes easily through jammed seatbelts. The auto escape tool is compact, easy to install, and always conspicuous on the dashboard or console because of its luminescent pin.

A photo posted by Tune-Tech (@tunetechjhb) on

ResQMe 

This keychain tool is used to cut through a seatbelt like a hot knife through butter. The tool is a revolutionary hand-held rescue device that is equally powerful as its predecessors despite being tiny. A powerful center-punch cuts side windows and slices through a jammed seatbelt to avoid auto entrapment. ResQMe could be attached to a keychain so that car occupants are always prepared for the unexpected. 

A photo posted by ??? (@westdays) on

Kuga fires

This comes in light of Ford Kugas catching fire on South African roads. The National Consumer Commission (NCC) and Ford SA announced on January 16, 2016 that a total of 4556 Kugas are being recalled in SA over this safety concern. The affected SUVs, built between December 2012 and February 2014, are equipped with the automaker's 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine. Ford says Kuga models fitted with the 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre engines are not affected.

READ: Kuga-fire saga - Ford SA speaks out, will recall thousands of SUVs

Ford said: "While we continue to investigate the Kuga 1.6 engine compartment fires, based on the current data we have determined that the fires are due to engine overheating. This is caused by a lack of coolant circulation which can lead to a cracking in the cylinder head and, therefore, an oil leak. If the leaking oil reaches a hot engine surface, it can potentially catch fire. We are not aware of any injuries resulting from the engine compartment fires."

The automaker says with this safety recall, all affected vehicles, including those that have already been checked, must be taken to a Ford dealership as soon as possible.

Jonck encourages Kuga owners to get to their nearest Ford dealer as soon as possible.

He noted: "Feel free to contact your local dealer to enquire whether your vehicle has been included in the recalls. The internet is a rich source of information and can be used effectively in the search for vehicle recalls. Keep in mind that a recall repair is free to the car owner and doesn’t have an expiration date - the manufacturer will have to fix your vehicle no matter how old the recall is."

READ: Ford SA's huge recall - Here's what Kuga owners should know

Premlall had a more general message: “It is a good time to look into recalls in SA and question why the number of vehicle owners bringing in their vehicles for the necessary repairs is nowhere near where it should. The result: potentially millions of dangerous vehicles on our roads."

Customers can call Ford's Roadside Assistance on 0861 150 250, or, any Ford customer concerns or queries can be directed to Ford Customer Service at 0860 011 022.

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