Tips, Tricks & Trends

What Happens When You Crash a BMW?

Sitting in traffic or zooming down the highway, sometimes the unfortunate happens: a dreaded car crash. Many new cars, such as BMW and Audi, reflect on mechanical issues of the past to create systems that ensure the driver and passengers’ safety, as well as ensure the vehicle is as uncompromised as possible.

Fuel Shutoff

Gasoline is, of course, highly flammable, so the addition of gasoline to any spark or current fire can be catastrophic to a car and potentially deadly to anyone in or around the vehicle. One way to ensure the safety of everyone involved is to ensure that no more gasoline is being pumped through the car or motor. Fuel can be secured in several different ways and is often achieved through a combination of ways.

The first and most common step is for the car’s computer to stop the fuel pump so no more fuel is being moved throughout the car. It’s as simple as it sounds, the car stops pumping fuel, so you aren’t risking adding – quite literally – more fuel to a fire. If there is no fire, this can also ensure that no flammable fuel comes in contact with potentially fire-causing sparks or electrical currents.

The computer can also tell the system to decrease the pressure inside of the fuel lines and the fuel pump. Because fuel lines are typically high pressure, when they are damaged or ruptured you risk spraying highly combustible fuel around the car or engine bay. This can cause deadly fires or explosions.

One final decision the computer can be told to make is to convert the pressure inside of the fuel lines from high pressure to negative pressure, effectively causing any fuel in the lines to be ‘sucked’ back into the tank. This is not effective if the fuel lines have been damaged because the system will lose the ability to create the vacuum necessary.

Whether the fuel safety mechanisms can do all of these or any combination of them, the car’s computer will complete the task in an astonishing couple of seconds.

15 July 2019, Schleswig-Holstein, L├╝beck: A burnt-out vehicle of the Audi brand is parked in a car park near the Old Town Island. In the background a BMW of a Swedish family is towed away, which was also damaged in the fire. Unknown perpetrators set several cars on fire near the Music and Congress Hall on Monday night. A total of a dozen cars have been burned out or damaged, a spokesman for the fire brigade said. The fire department is assuming arson. Who set the fire was initially unclear. Photo: Rainer Jensen/dpa (Photo by Rainer Jensen/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Battery Cutoff

The battery stores a majority of the car’s electrical energy, which can be problematic in times of damage. An electrical spark can cause fires or deadly sparks, so it has become critical that the battery has an emergency shutoff unit, or more commonly, a Battery Isolation Unit, that allows the battery to power essential safety features such as airbags or doors that are programmed to open upon impact.

The Battery Isolation Unit shuts off power from the battery to the rest of the car, within a few moments of the airbags, deploying and any safety features to initiate. Because of this feature, the car’s electrical systems lack the electrical signal to spark and cause fires, potentially saving your life and your car.

GEYSERVILLE, CA: OCTOBER 29: Justos Laos, left, looks at the remains of his BMW that was destroyed by the Kincade Fire along Geyserville Road in Geyserville, Calif., on Thurssday, Oct. 31, 2019. (Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

In today’s world, cars are fast than ever, and it is clear that manufacturers have been working to improve safety just as much – if not more – as performance. In fact, with all of the new technology being used in cars, we are designing some of the safest vehicles yet. These vehicle shutoff mechanisms are just the tip of the iceberg for modern-day safety. It may be annoying to have to take your car to a dealership to reset and replace what may have been damaged or shut off, but these are still some great safety features to help ensure you avoid a deadly car fire.