In areas where spring and summer get extremely hot, like California, you may have wondered if your car is getting too hot. But how likely is it that your car will actually start on fire?

According to the National Fire Data Center, one in eight fires put out across the nation are in vehicles on the highway, not including accidents, with the majority of them occurring in passenger vehicles.

Surprisingly, car fires don’t usually start because of the heat. Research found that they happen nearly the same amount throughout the year. Just because Newport Beach’s record temperature is 107 degrees doesn’t mean we are more likely to see car fires. In reality, 45% of fires are caused by mechanical failures, with the majority being found in the engine and wheels.

Here’s how you can help prevent car fires, even when the inside of your car feels like a microwave:

  • Address any and all leaks. Even small leaks or ones that stop after a short period can ignite fuel fires. The O-ring that seals the fuel components of your car may be cracked or broken.
  • It’s always a good idea to ask for a general checkup when you get your oil changed. This will help you and your mechanic catch any potential issues and prevent them from growing. This will probably save you money in the long run as well.
  • Every manufacturer has a set schedule for recommended maintenance on your car. Stick as closely as you can to that schedule to make sure you’re always safe.
  • Even though the outside temperature is not what typically causes car fires, it can be a factor. Especially as the weather gets warmer, watch for overheating in your car. Don’t push your vehicle if you think it’s getting too hot, but instead turn it off and let it cool down. It’s always smart to take it straight to a mechanic.

So really, you don’t need to be that worried about car fires as long as you have regular maintenance on your car and pay attention to it. Still, if something seems wrong, don’t ignore it.

In the unlikely event that your car does catch on fire, get out immediately. Don’t try to save your phone or your purse. Grabbing your things or even trying to put the fire out is not worth getting caught in a car fire, which can spread extremely quickly. Call professional firefighters as soon as possible rather than trying to fight it yourself.