Published on May 5th, 2021 | by Subhash Nair


In Singapore, Over 150 Cars Catch Fire Annually Still

Around the world, car fires are not an uncommon occurrence. In the US, that number is close to 200,000 vehicles annually. In Singapore, that number is steadily decreasing. Back in 2018, it was 221. It dipped down to 195 in 2019 and in 2020 it dropped down to just 153. Still, 153 cars burning down in a country as small and regulated as Singapore is still a little odd. That’s a car catching fire in Singapore every 3 days or less if you average out the numbers.

Just last month, The Straits Times reported that a used BMW X1 caught fire while it was being driven along the Bukit Timah Expressway. The owner, Mr Lester Cher noticed a burning smell and white smoke coming from an air cond vent and pulled over. When he inspected the fuse box, he saw that it was burning. Within 10 minutes, the entire car was engulfed in flames. This calls to mind other incidents of cars simultaneously catching fire in other countries.

Even though Mr Cher’s car was bought used, it was relatively new. The first-generation X1 first went on sale in 2009, but the car that burned down in this case was a 2nd generation X1 that only went into production in 2015. At worst, this was a 6-year-old car.

It’s possible that this used car was modified by the previous owner, the second hand dealership of by the owner himself, but the cause of this particular fire was not determined. Improperly installed equipment such as dashcams, reverse cameras or infotainment units can be one of the causes of an fire in a car. If the wiring is not done to spec, a short circuit could occur and very quickly the car will be up in flames. Given the fire may have started in the fuse box, this could be the explanation.

However, other reasons include the engine over heating. If the car’s cooling system is faulty, the liquids in the engine could boil over and start spilling out where they’re not supposed to. This could melt the insulating material of wires and cause a spark. Extremely bad wear and tear could also cause flammable fluids to leak out of the engine. Proper maintenance and periodic inspections for leaks are necessary.

Whatever the case, the lesson here is that it could happen to newer cars as well as older ones. In Malaysia, the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia reports that 4,000 cars catch fire annually – about 10% of all fires they respond to.

So, as a rule, always carry a fire extinguisher in your car. If you suspect your car is about to catch fire, pull over to the road shoulder and turn the engine off. The most important thing is your life and the safety of the other occupants in the car. Make sure everyone gets out and away from traffic.

BHPetrol_Euro5 Diesel_2021

Assess the situation. If there’s just a burning smell, you may be able to check under the hood for the beginnings of a fire. If this is the case, an ABC fire extinguisher may be able to stop the flame from spreading and you’ll be spared a tonne of headache and financial loss. Whatever the case, put safety first. The car can be replaced.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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