In the September issue of Leisure Wheels, we reported on cases of 4×4 vehicle fires, and Francois Rossouw gives advice on dealing with this ever-present danger here on the site. With the Prado 120 series seemingly prone to catching fire (see Len Nel from ONCA’s explanation of the exact problem in the original print article), Toyota came back to us with some advice for Toyota owners, and 4×4 owners and drivers in general.
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Toyota South Africa responds:
Further to our discussion on the apparent fire risk on 4×4 vehicles (issue 102, “An off-roader’s biggest fear):
As you know, any vehicle fitted with a catalytic converter is at risk in a flammable environment. Catalysts can reach temperatures of up to 800 degrees Celsius and they are now being fitted to both petrol and modern diesel-powered vehicles.
We have also noticed instances of so-called “heat soak”, where a vehicle is driven hard, the engine bay heats up, and the general heat of the engine compartment ignites grass or other flammable items underneath the vehicle. Please note that this is not a problem specific to Toyotas, but to all 4×4 vehicles.
Our experience shows that the greatest risk for a fire however is when a vehicle is parked in long or dry grass and not necessarily when grass seeds or other loose items get stuck underneath the vehicle. We advise owners (in the owner’s manual) to remove flammable items from underneath the vehicle every few kilometres when travelling off road.
It is also advisable that owners park their vehicles in a safe area, such as on a dirt road or dirt track, rather than in the long grass.
Please keep in mind that both petrol and diesel vehicles are at risk and that owners should heed the advice from old hands in the 4×4 community and clean their vehicle’s undercarriage often.
Toyota SA spokesperson