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Monday, 23 May 2016 19:06

What Are the Leading Causes of Motorhome Fires?

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Each year there are more than 6,000 RV fires in the US. There may be an infinite number of ways that a motorhome can catch on fire, but there are a few common fire causes that can be easily avoided by taking proper care and maintaining your motorhome.

While you are moving

interstate rv fireThe two places where fires are most likely to start while your vehicle is moving are in the engine compartments and by the wheels and axles.

Diesel pusher engines are especially prone to engine fires. If you have a diesel engine you should have your engine compartment cleaned periodically.

We suggest that you get an engine fire suppression system for your engine compartment. This will be automatically activated when the temperature in the engine bay reaches a specified temperature. This can extinguish a fire once it has been started, and keep an engine fire from turning your motorhome into a total insurance loss.

Leaking fuel and fluid lines are a common cause of engine fires. The more often you check your engine compartment, the safer you will be when it comes to preventing engine fires.

Dry wheel bearings are also a cause of motorhome fires that can be prevented. Once the lubrication in these areas disappears, this becomes a hot friction point where fires can easily start. This is an especially common cause of fires in trailers, so be sure to check these areas as well and keep everything greased properly. Simply bringing your RV into a reliable dealer for service is going to ensure that the motorhome is taken care of, however most people don’t take the time to bring their trailer in for service as often.

Flat tires are not just a cause of fires. theya re responsible for causing many crashes as well. While some tire issues can’t be avoided, many flat tires can be prevented with good tire maintenance. Here are a few things to check periodically: tire tread depth, age, dry rot and any rubber deformation, and of course tire pressure as well. We highly recommend having a digital tire pressure monitor installed in your vehicle if it does not already have one.

Always maintain your trailer axles and brakes just like your motorhome axles and brakes. Altogether, tires and brakes account for approx. 20% of all RV fires (ref).

Here is a link to a recent news story the gives us another related lesson… make sure to release your parking brake. This guy started a string of fires along the side of the highway when he left the parking brake on; overheating the brakes and sending sparks and hot metal everywhere - read the story here.

While You Are Stationary

About ½ of all RV fires occur while vehicles are stationary. One of the biggest causes historically has been refrigerators. Mass product recalls have helped to reduce the issue, but this still remains as a leading cause of fires (if you have a Norcold fridge you should probably get rid of it).

Approximately 35% of all RV fires are caused by electrical shorts and faulty wiring. Generators, water heaters, and air conditioners with faulty wiring and any other item wired into the electrical system can be a common source for fire. All wiring and connections on your motorhome systems and engine should be inspected and replaced if necessary as a precaution against fire.

Cooking and other unattended heat sources can start fires in stationary motor homes. Any cooking that is done in your motorhome should be attended, as should any other heat source such as heaters, gas lanterns and grills.

Most motorhomes use propane for the range and furnace if you have one, and propane leaks can be another source of a fire. The tanks that you use for propane storage should be inspected annually for leaks and you should inspect your RV for propane leaks before you use it or store it.

In stored vehicles, animals can build nests in close proximity to equipment that gets hot and can ignite, setting your motorhome on fire. Although this is a worst-case scenario, it does happen, so inspecting and maintaining these systems in your motorhome will go a long way toward fire prevention.

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