Automobile Fuel System Defects Lead to Vehicle Fires


Over 200 hundred people in the United States are killed in automobile fire deaths each year, and many of the preventable accidents are the result of defective car parts. According to a report published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are around 150,000 automobile fires each year, thousands of which are caused by auto fuel system defects, leading to numerous severe injuries and fatalities. It is estimated that defective fuel systems installed in cars cause up to 15 percent of all car fire deaths.

The fires and explosions that these defects cause are likely to result in severe burn injuries and even death. In many cases, car explosions are linked to fuel leaks after an accident. Fuel leaks can be attributed to a faulty design and positioning of the fuel tank system. In addition, there may be a lack of tank protection, increasing the possibility of a puncture and subsequent risk of fire.

Following a car accident involving a fire or explosion, victims should contact an experienced lawyer to investigate. Joe Lyon is a highly-rated and experienced Ohio personal injury attorney, well-versed in the science and economic impact such an accident has on a victim’s life and family. 


Large Auto Manufacturers Linked to Defective Fuel Systems

Some of the world’s largest automakers have been involved in litigation for producing faulty fuel systems that have resulted in fires and serious injuries. Toyota, Ford Motor and General Motors have each been named in lawsuits that allege the companies were responsible for their vehicles catching fire and injuring drivers and passengers.

In the past, fuel system defects were seen in some Ford and General Motors models, where the fuel tanks were located outside the frame rail. Experts determined this design flaw directly led to the vehicles catching fire and exploding during or after collisions. Between 1973 and 2000, improper placement of fuel tanks was responsible for more than 1,000 people killed in fire-related accidents. The Ford Motor Company has been involved in numerous lawsuits over a faulty fuel tank design, which made the tank at a high risk for rupture during a rear-end collision.

More recently, Toyota recalled over 2.8 million vehicles for possible cracks in the fuel tank. Toyota said cracks in the evaporative fuel emissions control unit could cause fuel to leak when filling up the tanks. Toyota admitted a manufacturing error was to blame. Prius models, as well as Auris, Corolla, Zelas, Lucas and Lexus models manufactured from 2006 through 2015 may be affected.

Another fire risk was discovered from the fuel lines linking the tank to the engine. Fuel-injected engines require fuel to pass through fuel lines at high pressure, and a small leak in a fuel line can result in a large amount of fuel escaping. Most fuel-injected engines have electric fuel pumps, and in the event of a collision, it is crucial that the pumps shut down. If the pump continues to operate, gasoline will continue to circulate and potentially feed any resulting fire or heat source.


Common Types of Fuel System Defects

Some recent examples of fuel tank design defects include the following:

  • Fuel tank systems may not have a “cut-off” device to stop the flow of gas after a collision
  • Poor welding work that may cause the tank to rupture
  • Separation of the gas line from tank or fuel pump
  • Improper location of fuel tank on vehicle
  • Failing or deteriorating tank material
  • No tank protection or inadequate shielding of tank from possible collision

Legal Action for Victims of Car Fires & Gas Tank Explosion Accidents

Defective fuel tanks and fuel pump system design can lead to severe injuries or deaths of motorists and passengers involved in accidents. Injured victims may be able to file claims against auto manufacturers for producing a vehicle with an unreasonable risk of catching fire.

Manufacturers of cars, trucks and SUVs have a legal duty to produce safe vehicles and ensure the protection of drivers and passengers before or after an accident. After contacting an automobile product liability attorney to investigate, compensation may be recovered for the following:

  • Emergency medical costs
  • Future medical expenses and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages and loss of future earnings
  • Past and future physical pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages.
  • In the event of a fatality, surviving families may file a wrongful death lawsuit

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to your vehicle’s defective fuel system, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.