November 25, 2020

Car catalytic converter fires

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An important part of your vehicle’s emission system is the catalytic converter. It is tasked with reducing harmful emissions that pollute the atmosphere and it has been a part of nearly every passenger vehicle built since the mid 1970s. Unfortunately, the catalytic converter can also run very hot and, at the same time, spark ignition of anything that it comes into contact with.

A friend of mine recently parked his brand new sports car under one of Cayman’s large leafy trees to shade it from the hot rays of the sun before going into his condominium. Less than ten minutes later he heard the sounds of sirens. At first, my friend didn’t give it much thought, but as the sirens drew closer he decided to go outside and investigate. To his utter horror, a car nearby to him was engulfed in flames. Within moments his worst fears were confirmed: his new sports car was on fire! Minutes later the fire was extinguished but my friend’s beautiful car – his pride and joy – was destroyed.

In my friend’s case he had parked his car directly over a small leaf pile that had fallen from the tree providing the shade. It was these leaves that started the fire due to a spark from his car’s catalytic converter.

When parking your vehicle, take care to make sure that no debris is on the ground directly underneath your car. Even a small pile of dried out leaves can be just enough fodder for a fire. You may not notice them when parking your car under a shady tree.

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