MEDFORD, Ore. — The weather is heating up and that means your car is too. Vehicles are responsible for an average of 15 wildfires a year, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Automotive experts said wildfires often start when a car parks on dry grass. The bottom of the car is hot, sometimes 400-500 degrees, and if the grass is dry a fire could potentially start.
A bad catalytic converter could also be to blame. If a catalytic converter goes bad, it can get extremely hot.
“It can actually exceed 1000 degrees, and be just glowing red hot, and sometimes if it starts to break down… little chunks will come out the exhaust, and you have these embers flying out the exhaust and landing in dry grass… it starts a fire every time,” said Dave Kelly, the owner of Kelly’s Automotive Service.
Kelly said most drivers will not see the embers coming out of the tail pipe unless they are looking in their review mirror frequently. He said if another drivers sees a car with this problem, call 911 and get the person’s license plate number. If possible, try flagging the driver down.
Another red flag is if your engine light comes on and starts flashing. If this happens, pull over immediately and get a tow truck to take your to the closest automotive shop. Kelly said not to keep driving or you could damage your car even further.
ODF said if drivers do experience car trouble and have to pull off the roadway, make sure to pull over in a non-grassy area.