Car Explosions in Films vs. Real Life: When They Really COULD Happen

Car Explosions in Films vs. Real Life: When They Really COULD Happen

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A car encounters some kind of trauma in a movie, and it explodes. In films, more often than not, a car explosion happens on contact, and sometimes, the narrative demands a few tense moments.  Either way, driving a car would seem like piloting a cross between a Molotov cocktail and the Exxon Valdez. Thank goodness, cars aren't so dangerous in real life -- or are they? There are some occasions when cars really will explode. The following are some circumstances to get your car engulfed in a fireball.

Your Gas Tank is Punctured by Debris

Most cars have plenty of safety features. While everybody knows about seatbelts, anti-lock brakes and the like, most people are unaware that cars typically keep their gas tanks and many of their fuel lines concealed behind a large amount of steel. As a general rule, anything that hits a car hard enough to damage its fuel tank has already done incredible damage to everything else in the car, making a spark unlikely. Being hit by a train might work, but by that point an explosion couldn't do much more harm. The opposite of a drive-by shooting might work, too, if someone uses a gun with the penetrating power of an AK-47 and riddles your car with holes.

You are Driving a Pinto

Since it was introduced in the 1970s, the Ford Pinto has a nasty reputation for being a death trap of explosive proportions during a car accident.  Due to a serious design flaw, it was very easy for the fuel line to be severed, spilling gas to the point where its fumes would be in the "sweet spot" of between 2 and 8 percent of the air, making ignition possible -- ignition in a confined space is explosion.

Someone Pulled a Dynamite Prank on You

If you put a stick of dynamite and a waterbed full of gasoline in the trunk of your car, it will explode twice.  First, the dynamite itself will explode. This explosion will cause the gas in the waterbed to be distributed through the air with plenty of sparks to set off. From there, the rest of the car develops punctures which can become the catalysts of an additional explosion. So if you want a proper explosion, all you have to do is pretend you're a terrorist.

You're in a Movie

Movies are the most likely times for a car to explode. If you watch movies, you would think hitting a car with a shopping cart would probably result in a fireball. However, unlike in the fictional world where every collision means destruction, nearly all car crashes simply contort the vehicle and trigger an insurance claim. Since most claims adjusters are not supermodels, and smashed cars aren't usually very attractive, an explosion looks better on the big screen.

Conclusion: Cars Don't Often Explode

If you were bordering on selling your car to buy a bicycle or a pogo stick, take heart -- it isn't going to explode; unless terrorists get hold of it, you're driving it into a movie, or you're the last person on earth to hear about how bad Pintos are. So, you may continue with driving as much as you like.

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