Electric energy is a clean alternative to fossil fuels and is set to be the future of the way we power our world, thanks largely to the investments and innovations provided by Elon Musk and Tesla, Inc. (among others). With climate change concerns, growing air pollution across the world and the fact that gasoline and ethanol are increasingly limited resources, we are in need of this move toward a more battery-powered life if it can be done affordably and safely.
Of course, there have always been risks of explosions and flammability in automobiles. The infamous Ford Pinto is still known for its fire risks some 40+ years since its debut and some may remember the Ford Explorer/Firestone tire issues of the early 2000s. Unfortunately, though overall car safety has increased over time, today’s modern gas-powered cars, hybrids and electric cars still maintain very real risks of car battery explosions that should not be taken lightly. We will take a look at the risks and how to avoid them when hitting the road.
The Risk of Car Battery Explosions
- “Jumping” a Car: Most have experienced the headache of a dead battery. Luckily, reviving a battery is often as simple as clamping jumper cables between a running vehicle and the vehicle with the dead battery. Where the danger lies is in the clamping of these batteries. Be sure to use insulated, undamaged jumper clamps and be sure to clamp first to the dead battery to avoid a potential, dangerous electrical arc. Once clamped to either battery, keep fingers away from the metal portions of the clamp, which will instantly be electrified.
- Damage and Corrosion: A battery that has not been properly maintained is susceptible to corrosion and damage, which can form a bridge that could ignite the battery’s hydrogen gas. Clean your battery or replace it, if damaged.
- Defect: As we always say, accidents can happen–yes, even in production. Always keep an eye out for recalls, especially in something as potentially dangerous and regularly used as your vehicle.
- Accident: Car accidents, though often avoidable through some safe driving techniques, can happen when you least expect them. In especially some especially serious accidents, car batteries have been known to be punctured or otherwise damaged, catching them on fire.
Some venture that a recent deadly accident involving a fully battery-powered Tesla shows the future risks of a predominantly electric-powered-vehicle world. In this case, a 27-year-old woman (who was later found to be intoxicated at the time of the crash) and a 44-year-old man were killed when she crashed the vehicle into a tree after traveling at a high rate of speed. The sporty Tesla Model S reportedly burst into flames, shooting debris into the air like “Roman candles” and making the efforts of firefighters and first responders that much more dangerous and difficult.
If you currently drive an electric vehicle, you must understand the risk of doing so. The Tesla Model S is powered by a lithium battery pack that weighs in at 1,200 pounds–a lot of potential explosive and flammable material. Of course, your standard gas-powered engine possesses similar potential risks of explosion and fire, but the fact that lithium battery fires are tougher to fight is enough to make us cautious.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your vehicle, whether gas-powered, electric or a hybrid? Simply follow the rules of the road, drive attentively and never drive while intoxicated.