Firefighter walking away from a fire truck

Even though car fires can be rare, they can have devastating consequences for both the owner of the vehicle and everyone around them. Taking the proper steps to make sure your car is in good shape before driving is more than just convenient; it’s a commitment to safety and peace of mind.

What to do if your vehicle’s on fire

  1. Pull off to the side of the road as soon as you possibly can.
  2. Turn off the engine as soon as you stop.
  3. Evacuate everyone out of the vehicle and move at least 100 feet away.
  4. Call 911.
  5. If you think the fire is coming from the hood of the car, do not open it.1

After a car fire, you’ll want to file a claim. Make sure you collect as much information as possible before you do this, including collecting the correct vehicle information and insurance policy information, and taking photos of the fire. 

What causes car fires

Many car fires have similar causes, including:

  • Mechanical failure or malfunction
  • Spilled or leaking fluids
  • Electrical system failure or malfunction
  • Engine or catalytic converter overheating
  • Design flaws
  • Lack of upkeep with maintenance
  • Car crash2

Signs that a car will catch on fire

Look out for these signs that your vehicle could be in danger of catching on fire soon:

  • Engine smoke
  • Sparks
  • Changes in engine temperature or fluid levels
  • A blown fuse
  • Leaking liquid3

Safety tips

  1. Have a professional service your vehicle on a regular basis.
  2. Stay alert while on the road to avoid accidents.
  3. If you have gas cans or propane tanks inside your car, roll the windows down and keep them away from passengers.1

My car caught on fire; will my insurance cover it?

If you’re wondering what your insurance policy covers, check the mobile app for policy information or reach out to your insurance agent. You can always update your policy according to your needs.

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Learn more about Nationwide auto insurance.


[1] “Vehicle Fire Safety,” (accessed March 28, 2024).
[2] “Top 10 Causes of a Car Fire,” Kristen Hall-Geisler and Cherise Threewitt, (Feb. 1, 2024).
[3] “Know the Warning Signs: What to Do in a Car Fire,” (June 7, 2017).