Parking on Leaves Can Make Your Car Start on Fire

The leaves of autumn are a tranquil sight in many parts of the country, with a cascade of colors sweeping across the landscape. However, fall foliage has a hidden danger for cars. If you park your car on a pile of leaves, it could start on fire.

Is it bad to park on leaves?

Blue VW Beetle near a leaf pile, highlighting how parking on leaves can make a car start on fire
VW Beetle parked near a leaf pile | Parsoa Khorsand via Unsplash

Many people rake their leaves into piles onto the street, where the city municipalities collect them. Some might think that it’s OK to park their car on a pile of leaves or drive over them. However, you shouldn’t do this, for it can result in your vehicle catching on fire. 

A car’s engine and exhaust system can get quite hot, and it can take 10 minutes for it to cool down. When you combine that with leaves, particularly if they are dry, then you have a recipe for a dangerous fire. There’s an even greater risk if the engine is overheated or has other mechanical problems, such as spark plug misfires. 

An exhaust system typically has an average temperate of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, but a spark plug misfire can raise the temperature to 800 degrees. As detailed by the Washington Post, a pile of dry leaves can catch fire at temperatures as low as 575 degrees. 

Animals can stockpile leaves in the engine bay

Green classic car on a leaf pile, highlighting how parking on leaves can make a car catch on fire
Classic car parked on a pile of leaves | Sebastian Grochowicz via Unsplash

Furthermore, squirrels and other animals stockpile leaves for the winter, and a common location to do this is in the engine bay of a car. By parking on a pile of leaves, you’ll increase the likelihood of getting your engine bay packed with leaves by animals, along with a greater risk of a fire. 

How to avoid a car fire from leaves

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The most obvious way to avoid a car fire from leaves is to not park or drive over a leaf pile. If possible, park your vehicle in a garage. Not only does this keep your car away from leaf piles that could ignite under a hot car, but there’s a lower likelihood of animals stockpiling leaves in the engine bay. However, if you don’t have the option to park in a garage, then do your best to find a spot in your driveway or on the street that is far as possible from a pile of leaves.

Another precaution that you can take is to occasionally check under the hood to ensure there are no leaves in the engine bay, particularly in the autumn. If you find some leaves there, pick them out by hand. Also, for a more thorough method, use an air compressor to blow out the leaves, as detailed by Qianglizs.

Also, if your vehicle frequently has problems with leaves stashed under the hood or other animal-related issues, it would be a good idea to get it checked over by a mechanic. Along with fire prevention, taking your car to a service center can ensure that animals didn’t cause any mechanical damage, such as chewed wires. 

Another hazard for cars during autumn is falling acorns. To find out how to address this issue, click on the link below. 

RELATED: How Badly Can Falling Acorns Damage a Car?