Earlier this week, in the heart of Johannesburg, an unexpected and terrifying event recently unfolded, leaving the city in shock. A massive underground explosion reverberated through the urban landscape, reminding us of the potential dangers we face in our daily lives.


While such occurrences are infrequent, they inevitably raise questions about safety, prompting us to examine the risks we encounter every time we step into our vehicles. One pertinent question that arises is whether our trusted means of transportation, our vehicles, pose a genuine risk of explosion.


In this article, we delve into the realities of vehicle safety, exploring the factors that contribute to or mitigate the chances of a vehicle erupting into flames and the measures we can take to ensure our travels remain secure.


Diesel Vs Petrol Cars 

Diesel cars and petrol vehicles have distinct characteristics and fuel properties, which can influence their performance and safety. Let's compare the two and examine which one is at a higher risk of fire and explosion:


Fuel Properties:

Diesel: Diesel fuel has a higher flashpoint than petrol, meaning it requires higher temperatures to ignite. Diesel engines compress air at a higher ratio, resulting in higher temperatures, which ignites the fuel through compression rather than spark plugs.

Petrol: Petrol has a lower flashpoint, making it more volatile and easier to ignite. Petrol engines use spark plugs to ignite the fuel-air mixture.


Fire and Explosion Risk:

Both diesel and petrol vehicles have the potential to catch fire or explode under certain circumstances, but the risk factors differ:

Petrol Vehicles: Due to their lower flashpoint, petrol vehicles are generally considered to have a higher risk of fire and explosion compared to diesel vehicles. In the event of a collision or impact that ruptures the fuel tank or fuel lines, petrol can easily ignite if it comes into contact with a spark, flame, or other sources of ignition. The highly flammable nature of petrol can lead to rapid combustion and, in extreme cases, result in an explosion.

Diesel Vehicles: Diesel fuel is less prone to spontaneous ignition, thanks to its higher flashpoint. This can make diesel vehicles somewhat safer in certain scenarios, particularly in accidents where the fuel tank or lines are damaged. However, diesel fuel can still ignite under extreme heat or if exposed to an open flame.


Safety Measures:

The good news  is that modern vehicles rarely burst into flames even when  involved in accidents. Modern vehicles, regardless of whether they run on diesel or petrol, incorporate numerous safety features to minimize the risk of fires and explosions. These safety measures include:

Fuel Tank Placement: Both diesel and petrol vehicles have their fuel tanks strategically positioned to reduce the likelihood of direct impact during a collision.

Reinforced Fuel Tanks: Manufacturers design fuel tanks to be sturdy and less prone to punctures in the event of an accident.

Automatic Fuel Shut-off: Many vehicles are equipped with automatic fuel shut-off systems that activate during a crash, cutting off the fuel supply to mitigate potential fire hazards.

Although modern vehicle safety standards and precautions have significantly reduced the occurrence of such incidents,  we will still look at what to do should you be  in  a situation where you fear a fire or explosion may result.



Design Flaws

When it comes to vehicles, it is true that fires rarely occur under normal circumstances. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that some incidents of vehicle fires have been linked to design flaws or manufacturing issues. One notable example is the case of the Ford Kuga, where fires became a significant concern for owners and the manufacturer alike, and unfortunately innocent owners lost their lives.

In the case of the Ford Kuga, several incidents were reported where the vehicles caught fire due to engine overheating and related issues. Investigations revealed that a design flaw in the vehicle's cooling system and the engine compartment layout contributed to the problem. The design flaw caused engine coolant leaks, which led to overheating and eventually resulted in fires.

Ford eventually issued a safety recall on the affected Kugas. If your vehicle, be it a Kuga or any other vehicle, has a safety recall on it, it is absolutely imperative to address it immediately.


If You Are In An Accident

If you are in an accident and suspect a fuel leak, it's essential to prioritize your safety and take immediate action to minimize the risk of fire or explosion. Follow these steps:


Stay Calm: Try to stay calm and composed. Panic can cloud your judgment, so take a deep breath and focus on your safety.


Turn off the Ignition: If the car is still running, turn off the ignition immediately. This will help prevent any potential sparks from igniting the leaked fuel.


Do Not Smoke or Use Open Flames: Absolutely avoid smoking or using any open flames near the vehicle. Even a tiny spark could ignite the fuel and lead to an explosion.


Exit the Vehicle: If you can safely do so, exit the vehicle and move a safe distance away from it. Move to the side of the road or a safe location away from traffic.


Warn Others: If there are other people nearby, warn them about the potential fuel leak and advise them to keep their distance.


Call for Help: Dial emergency services immediately and report the accident, mentioning the suspected fuel leak. Provide them with your exact location and any other relevant details.


Don't Attempt to Fix the Leak: Do not try to fix the fuel leak yourself. Leave this task to professionals with the necessary training and equipment to handle the situation safely.


Wait for Help: Wait at a safe distance for emergency responders to arrive. They will be equipped to handle the situation and take appropriate measures to contain the leak and prevent any potential hazards.


Remember, your safety is the top priority in any accident situation. While you may want to help others or address the problem yourself, it's crucial to leave the handling of a fuel leak to trained professionals to avoid any further risks.


Emergency Equipment

Having a fire extinguisher in your vehicle can provide an added layer of safety and peace of mind. Whether as result of an accident or poor design such as the Ford Kuga , fires can still occur unexpectedly in various scenarios. A fire extinguisher can serve as a vital tool to quickly respond to a small fire before it escalates into a more significant and potentially life-threatening situation.


The benefits of having a fire extinguisher on board include:


Early Intervention: In the event of a small fire, such as an engine fire or a fire caused by an electrical malfunction, a fire extinguisher allows you to act swiftly and suppress the flames before they have a chance to spread and cause more damage.


Preventing Escalation: Fires in vehicles can spread rapidly due to the presence of flammable materials and close quarters. A fire extinguisher can help prevent the fire from growing out of control and engulfing the entire vehicle.


Protecting Lives: A fire extinguisher enables you to protect yourself, your passengers, and other motorists if you come across an accident involving fire. Quick action can make a significant difference in reducing injuries and saving lives.


However, it's important to note that while a fire extinguisher can be a valuable tool, it is essential to know how to use it correctly. Familiarize yourself with the instructions on the extinguisher and take a training course on fire safety and proper fire extinguisher use if needed.



In a world where unforeseen events can unfold in the blink of an eye, being prepared for emergencies is paramount. Whether you are driving a diesel car or a petrol vehicle, the risk of fire is a real possibility, albeit relatively rare. However, armed with knowledge and equipped with the right emergency tools, we can greatly enhance our safety on the roads. Remember to conduct regular maintenance checks on your vehicle, stay informed about potential recalls or safety concerns, and invest in essential emergency equipment. By taking these proactive steps, we empower ourselves to respond effectively and calmly in critical situations, safeguarding not only our lives but also the lives of others on the roads we traverse.