Australian motorists have been warned to check their cars and national recall lists after a spate of terrifying explosions that could have been deadly.
The chilling warning from a motoring expert and fire chief emerged as several drivers recalled their horrifying narrow escapes with popular brands.
Sydney fashion designer Kate Anderson had just paid off her Jeep Wrangler when her car burst into flames on the side of the M1 in January.
She and her partner Chris were heading home when they stopped at a roadside fruit stall to buy mangoes, where they were told flames were coming from underneath the car.
Ms Anderson turned off the ignition, grabbed her belongings and fled before watching on in horror as her beloved car exploded minutes later.
Kate Anderson (pictured) recalled her terrifying escape moments before her Jeep Wrangler burst into flames on the M1 in January
‘It was terrifying. I was in shock, I think. Obviously inconsolable seeing your only asset go up in flames, like, that’s obviously devastating,’ Ms Anderson told A Current Affair.
Ms Anderson is now furious after she was told by the car manufacturer that no design or material defects were found to be the cause of the fire.
The manufacturer suggested it may have been caused by accumulation of vegetation or roadside debris flicked up into the engine.
‘I think it had only done 45,000km in six years, well serviced, how can that happen to a car like that?’ Ms Anderson said.
‘I find it really hard to believe that a four-wheel drive that’s meant for off-roading and marketed as an off-road vehicle that that would happen to it so easily.’
Kate Anderson watched on in horror as her Jeep Wrangler (pictured) burst into flames on the side of the road
Another Sydney woman Shellie recalled how her Holden Captiva was destroyed after it burst into flames in her office’s car park.
‘The engine was smoking pretty badly, flames were coming out, we managed to pull other cars out from around it and I managed to get something out of the boot of my car. I was in shock, yeah,’ she recalled.
The cause of the fire is still unknown.
Television personality Jessica Rowe and her teenage daughter had a very lucky escape when her $66,000 Volvo XC 60 burst into flames on March 25.
Rowe was picking up her 14-year-old daughter Allegra from school in Sydney’s eastern suburbs when the car began billowing smoke on New South Head Road in Rose Bay.
A passing school bus driver flagged the vehicle down and helped the pair escape from the vehicle and to safety as the car burst into flames.
Shellie’s Holden Captiva (pictured) burst into flames in an office car park. The cause of the fire is unknown
The traumatised TV host refused to reveal how close they both came to dying, telling Kyle and Jacki O the next day: ‘We’re not going down that path.’
The more technologically advanced the car, the more likely something could go wrong, according to drive motoring expert Trent Nicolic.
‘They have electrics, they have batteries, they’ve got a fuel tank full of petrol or diesel,’ Mr Nicolic told the program.
Five recalls have been issued in the last three days alone on Peugeots, Scania trucks, Jaguar Land Rovers and Mercedes Benz.
Hyundai was also forced to issue a recent recall specifically related to a fire hazard.
Last week, Mercedes Benz issued an urgent recall for 719 vehicles amid fears they could catch fire or short circuit over a steering control unit defect.
Product Safety Australia announced for Mercedes-Benz C, GLC and EQC vehicles with the Model Year 2020 sold nationwide last year, which may contain a damaged wiring harness in the steering control unit that could cause a short circuit which may lead to a fire.
Mr Nikolic said recalls affect different manufacturers for different reasons.
Jessica Rowe and her daughter were forced to flee her $66,000 Volvo XC 60 after it burst into flames (pictured) in Rose Bay on March 25.
He says the onus is on car manufacturers to issue recalls, a matter he says they take very seriously.
‘It doesn’t matter which manufacturer or which brand – it is not in their best interest for people to be driving a car where something could go wrong,’ Mr Nikolic said.
‘We always urge consumers, if there’s been a recall for a car you own, check the VIN and get it in there to get it fixed.’
Cars in Australia catch on fire on a regular basis, according to Rural Fire Service Superintendent Scott Dodson.
If your car catches fire, the first thing is to stop, put the hand brake on and turn the vehicle off.
‘Get your family out of the car as fast as possible and moved to a safe area, up and away from the smoke,’ Superintendent Dodson said.
‘Then call triple zero. Don’t go back to your car, everything in that car is replaceable.’
Go to productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars to the full list of car recalls.
A distraught Jessica Rowe watched on as her gutted Volvo XC 60was towed away on March 25