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Published May. 22, 2018

While no one wants to ride on a vehicle that is known to be a fire hazard, everyone should invest in fire extinguishers built especially for cars to increase their chances of putting out any fires – big or small – and limit the damage to their vehicle. Fire extinguishers for care can also help motorists save themselves, their families, and passengers. Identifying the best fire extinguisher for cars can be tricky, though. This is why we’ve put on a list of 5 of the best fire extinguishers and accessories for cars that our editorial team and avid motoring fans also have in their vehicles. This should help you get started.

Best Rated Fire Extinguishers For Cars in 2020:

First Alert’s Rechargeable Standard Home Fire Extinguisher may be primarily indicated for residential fires, but its versatility extends well beyond the four corners of the home. It is one of those products that one can trust to extinguish ABC types of fire from combustible organics to fluids and even electrical equipment. This also makes it ideal to have inside every vehicle. Its heavy-duty construction is completed with its own mounting bracket, eliminating any need to purchase additional hardware.

Fire Alert is also duly-recognized by the US Coast Guard especially for its compliance with industry-leading standards of safety and product quality. The SureGrip mechanism makes it exceptionally easy to operate while its rechargeability simply means practicality in the long run.

Key Features
  • Commercial-grade metal construction including valve and trigger
  • For class ABC fires
  • Complies with standards set by DOT, OHSA, and Bureau of Motor Carriers
  • Coast Guard-approved
  • UL-rating: 1-A 10:BC
  • SureGrip trigger
  • Comes with mounting bracket
Specification
  • Brand First Alert
  • Model 1038789
  • Weight 4.5 lbs

While the Bracketeer is not a fire extinguisher in itself, it is nevertheless one of the accessories that you’ll need to complete your fire safety mechanism right inside your car. The package comes with and easy-to-mount bracket that is designed to be fully adjustable. The frame of the Bracketeer can be easily clamped onto your car’s seat rails or even bolted onto the seat mount points of your vehicle using the stainless steel bolts that already come with the package.

The Bracketeer can handle any type of fire extinguisher weighing between 2.0 and 2.5 pounds. Ideally, however, it works best with Kidde Marine, H3R Performance Halguard, Automotive 466627N and 466179, and Amerex Halotron, among others. Bracketeer also provides an online facility to check the compatibility of the system to your vehicle, saving you the hassle of buying the Bracketeer only to find out it won’t fit your car.

Key Features
  • Fits 2 to 2.5 lb extinguishers for vehicles
  • Durable high-grade steel construction
  • Stainless steel bolts
  • Fully-adjustable width
  • Easy-to-install
Specification
  • Brand The Bracketeer
  • Model UFEB1317
  • Weight 1.2 lbs

Jeep owners will want the Badass Motogear on the roll bars of their off-roader. Like the Bracketeer, the Badass Motogear is not a fire extinguisher, but rather a mounting system for keeping your fire extinguisher well within reach while also adding some sort of design element to your off-roader. The Badass Motogear is made of premium-quality padded material that serves as a cushion for the fire extinguisher against bumps and shocks as you drive your vehicle on uneven terrain. It’s got Velcro closure system allowing it to accommodate any type and size of fire extinguishers, although the company specifically designed it for FA110 models.

The good news is that you can always use the combination of soft padding and secure Velcro closure to mount any other stuff that you may have. It’s the perfect solution for a water bottle holder in case your bike doesn’t have one.

Key Features
  • Fits FA110 fire extinguishers and similarly-sized units
  • Fully adjustable Velcro straps
  • Versatile functionality
Specification
  • Brand Badass Motogear
  • Model BMGBH – black
  • Weight 8.8 oz

Fire Gone’s 2NBFG2704 White/Red Fire Suppressant features an Aqueous Film Forming Foam technology to put out ordinary, flammable, and electrical fires, making them exceptionally useful for fires in cars and even in homes. Perhaps the only downside to the Fire Gone is that it is not rechargeable. But this should not really be a big issue if you can make sure that you’ll be doing everything you possibly can to prevent fires in your vehicle or even at home. Nevertheless, the unique design of the Fire Gone plus its simplified operation makes it a great alternative to conventional fire extinguishers. It’s handier and costs less, too.

Key Features
  • Aqueous Film Forming Foam technology
  • Made for Class ABC fires
  • Easy-to-clean, biodegradable cap
  • Easy and simple to use
Specification
  • Brand Fire Gone
  • Model 2NBFG2704
  • Weight 2.75 lbs

H3R Performance’s HG100C HalGuard Chrome Clean Agent Fire Extinguisher uses one of the world’s most trusted fire extinguishing agents to give it remarkable capabilities when it comes to putting out fires. Containing Halotron 1, HalGuard gives you fire extinguishing capabilities without leaving significant damage to the environment. Halotron 1’s global warming potential is rated only at 77 whereas its predecessor, Halon 1211, had 1,890. The higher the GWP rating, the greater is the product’s ozone-depleting potential.

This makes HalGuard the choice of many homeowners, commercial establishments, vehicle owners, and any other individual or entity that may have a need for an effective fire extinguisher in a highly portable form. HalGuard already comes with its own bracket and steel straps, although the Bracketeer will fit in nicely. It is fully rechargeable and comes with an easy-to-read pressure gauge so you’ll never have to second guess the content of the HalGuard.

Key Features
  • Halotron 1 extinguishing agent
  • Safe on electronics and vehicle surfaces
  • Maximum discharge range: 8 feet
  • Fully rechargeable, lightweight, easy-to-use, compact design
  • UL-rated as 1B:C
  • With mounting bracket and steel strap
  • 5-year limited warranty
Specification
  • Brand H3R Performance
  • Model HG100C
  • Weight 3.82 lbs

Best Fire Extinguishers for Cars

Many car owners are usually overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices they are presented with when buying a fire extinguisher to place inside their vehicles. To aid you in your search for the best car fire extinguisher we’ve prepared a guide for you to consider.

Best Fire Extinguishers

What Causes Cars to Set on Fire?

As we have said in the beginning of this post, the modern vehicle is not exactly fire-proof regardless of how well-constructed and well-designed it is. One only needs to look at the various components of a car and it is easy to see why cars can be easily set on fire. Here’s a look at the common causes of vehicular fires.

Leaking fuel

According to experts leaking fuel is the most common cause of vehicular fire. Legacy cars that still have carburetors can have their fuel union gaskets worn out. It is also possible that the float level has been set incorrectly. Modern cars that already have fuel injection systems tend to have O-rings forming a seal on fuel pressure regulators and fuel injectors. Unfortunately, these also deteriorate over time, leading to a leak in the system. When such leaks occur, fires can be set off through a variety of mechanisms. Poorly insulated spark plugs can cause a spark to ignite the leaked fuel. Alternatively, the leaked fuel may find its way onto the exhaust manifold, initiating a chain reaction that can set the vehicle on fire. The problem is in the high combustibility of fuel especially gasoline or petrol. Experts say that a 45-degree Fahrenheit gasoline can be easily ignited with a simple spark. What’s more frightening is that once gasoline reaches 495 degrees Fahrenheit, spontaneous combustion can actually occur.

Electrical shorts

One of the most common reasons for residential fires happens to be one of the common reasons for vehicular fires as well. When an electric short circuit is established, this can overheat the wire. With extreme heat, spontaneous combustion can occur, initiating the fire. Older cars will usually have their wirings pass through some hole in one of the car’s panels. These can be chafed, exposing the wires and getting in contact with metal parts of the car. The incorrect fitting of an aftermarket electrical component can also lead to electrical fires. In rare instances, the grounding cable connecting the car’s frame with the engine can be broken or is poorly connected. This sends electricity back to the battery and lead to overheating of the throttle cable. The batteries are especially problematic, too as the charging cycles can initiate the buildup of hydrogen gas. Electric current from the battery can produce sparks, igniting the gas.

Engine overheating

It is very rare to have an overheating engine cause massive vehicular fire. While the fire will never originate from the engine itself, one can say that the pressure building inside a very hot chamber can push various liquids through the joints and seals of the network of tubes running through and around the engine. As such, when oil or coolant lands on a very hot part of the exhaust system, you can expect fires to occur. Sometimes, the reason for the engine overheating is not mechanical in nature, but rather a fault in the engine software. Take for example the 2012 recall of Ford cars featuring the EcoBoost powertrain. The overheating manifestation was addressed by a system update of its software.

Problems in the exhaust system

The inner surfaces of the exhaust system can get unusually hot, reaching upwards of 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit. If leaks are found in the system or the heat shields have been damaged or discarded, fire are more likely to occur. Catalytic converters, too, can get exceptionally hot that many of the California wildfires have been attributed to cars parked on dry combustible grass.

Best Fire Extinguishers 2

The reason why catalytic converters are often blamed for such incidents is that these devices ted to work exceptionally hard in burning more pollutants in the exhaust system than the intended design of the converter. This often is the result of an inefficiently operating engine leading to improper burning of fuel. This increases the amount of byproducts that will have to be processed by the catalytic converter. Experts say that an overworked catalytic converter can easily reach more than 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, exposing the surrounding parts of the car to significant damage. If the catalytic converter gets too hot, in can ignite the carpeting and insulation of the cabin.

Spilling fluids

A lot of the fluids running through various systems in a vehicle are actually flammable. Fuel, transmission fluid, brake fluid, engine oil, engine coolant, and even power steering fluid are all flammable materials. The main issue here is the network of tubes upon which these fluids run. These can easily take a hit. When these fluids land on a very hot part of the vehicle, then you can actually set the car on fire.

Batteries of electric or hybrid vehicles

The Tesla Model S was once dubbed as the safest car ever. Unfortunately, not long after the unofficial title, a Tesla Model S caught fire. It wasn’t only Tesla that had been under scrutiny for such incidents. GM’s Chevy Volt also made the headlines in 2011 and 2012 when a number of the company’s test vehicles caught fire, not randomly, but during crash testing. Regardless of the ingenious solutions car manufacturers can come up with today, battery-related problems still hound electric and hybrid vehicles. One small debris puncturing through the car’s battery and you can expect the battery to behave like any other.

Intentional setting of the car on fire

We live in very interesting times. We’ve seen many videos of jilted lovers venting their ire on their partner’s vehicles. If not smashing the body and windows with a sledgehammer, they’d literally set it on fire. There are also arsonists, vandals, and even thieves who, in an effort to conceal their activities or even identities, will intentionally set a car on fire. Insurance fraudsters also set their vehicles on fire especially if they know that they’d be compensated for it.

Car crash

Not all vehicular collisions end up in a fireball. Only Hollywood filmmakers make them look so spectacular that even a small bump already results in an orange fireball. In real life, this rarely happens. Modern cars have crumple zones that help protect its most sensitive components. However, depending on the nature of the crash, heat and spilled combustible fluids can still start a fire.

Human error or carelessness

Nobody wants to admit that he set his vehicle on fire, albeit not on purpose, of course. The thing is that there are plenty of motorists who simply lack the understanding as to why basic maintenance is a must. Broken parts, faulty wiring, and even leaky seals can all contribute to the starting of a vehicle fire. For example, having a really bad engine head gasket can easily leak flammable liquids. When such liquids are exposed to a heat source, then you’ve got the perfect recipe for a fiery disaster. Also included is carelessness such as smoking inside the vehicle and not using the ashtray compartment. Embers can fall on the carpet of the car. It’s not enough to start a fire, of course, but it just goes to show how careless some of us can be.

Fundamental flaw in the design of the car

While a design flaw doesn’t automatically lead to vehicular fires it can, nevertheless, create conditions that are perfect for a fire or even set everything else in motion.  You may have heard of vehicle recalls in the past because of some issues in the design of the vehicle that the manufacturers think is a serious fire hazard.

Best Fire Extinguishers for Cars FAQ:

Q:  What Should You Do If a Car Catches Fire?

One car in the US catches fire every 2 minutes. That is according to the National Fire Protection Association. Given that vehicular fires are very common, it is important that you know what to do should you find yourself in a car that is already showing tell-tale signs of vehicular fire such as the smell of something burning or even seeing smoke emanating from under the hood. If you do notice any of these signs you should activate your signal light and pull safely towards the side of the road. Don’t ever make the mistake of driving all the way to your destination thinking that the ‘smoky’ problem will dissipate. Just pull over. Apply the parking brakes and turn off your car’s engine. Always make sure to do this before you get out of the vehicle as this will help prevent the occurrence of a full-blown fire. Get everyone else out of the car and move at least 150 feet from the vehicle. Call the emergency services. You can also place triangle safety warnings to alert oncoming traffic. Use a fire extinguisher if you see smoke emanating from under the hood. Slightly open the hood and use the fire extinguisher, standing several feet away. Now, if you notice the smoke or fire to be emanating from the rear of the vehicle, forget extinguishing the fire. Move as fast and far away as possible from the vehicle as it can explode any time.

Q:  What Type of Fire Extinguisher is Best-Suited for a Car?

Fire extinguishers are generally classified according to the type of fire that the extinguishing agent is fully capable of suppressing. Since vehicular fires can come from organic combustible materials that make up the cabin of the car such as fabric, wood, and paper, among others, then you need a fire extinguisher that is rated as Fire Class Car fires can also come from the highly flammable fluids that we discussed above such as fuel, engine oil, engine coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and many more. As such, you will also need a fire extinguishing agent that is Fire Class B-rated. Lastly, vehicular fires can be due to electrical problems or issues in the extensive wiring and electronic components of the car. The kind of fire extinguisher for such causes of fire is known as Fire Class C materials. When we take these together, the type of fire extinguisher that is best-suited for a car is one that has a Fire Class rating of A, B, and C.

Q:  What are the Factors to Consider When Choosing a Car Fire Extinguisher?

Picking the right fire extinguisher for your car can be tricky since the market is essentially flooded with a lot of competing brands some of which clearly don’t belong. To help you identify which among these products is perfect for your car, here are some factors you need to consider.
Size
If you have a large truck or SUV then you can go for a fire extinguisher that is larger than most. However, for standard sedans or even compact cars, you need to consider the space upon which you are going to place the fire extinguisher in. Remember, it should be located in an area that is readily accessible in case of fire.
Weight
The idea is to get a car fire extinguisher that is commensurate to the size and dimensions of your car. As a rule, car fire extinguishers should never weigh more than 5 pounds with the preferred weight as 2 pounds.
Durable construction
This is related to the materials used in the construction of the tank. Some would go for steel while others will go for aluminum. Steel is definitely more durable than aluminum, but you’d have to pay for the weight. Aluminum may not be as sturdy as steel but it sure is perfect for corrosion resistance and featherweight characteristics.
Refillable and serviceable
Your best bet is to get a fire extinguisher that can be easily refilled and serviced. While these are usually more expensive than disposable fire extinguishers, they will pay for themselves in the long run.
Controlled discharge
The trigger mechanism should be soundly built that it won’t fail you when you need it most.
Fire Class rating
Go for fire extinguishers with a Fire Class rating of A, B, and C.
Warranty
A 5-year warranty is always better than one with 12 months. Still, a 3-month warranty is still better than having none at all.
All machines, including modern cars, are composed of electrical, chemical, and mechanical components that can have problems any time. Add to this the proximity of electrical wiring systems to sources of combustible fuel and an engine that generates heat and you’ve got all the elements necessary to start a fire. With these 5 best fire extinguishers for cars, however, you’d be more than ready to put out such fires, limit damage, and save lives.

Sources:

  1. How Fire Extinguishers Work – HowStuffWorks
  2. Top 10 Causes of Car Fires – HowStuffWorks

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