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4×4 Fire risks – a word from Toyota

31 August 2012

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.

THE VIDEO: We promised you a video of the Hattingh and Le Roux families vehicles on fire, and we’re working hard to get it for you – watch this space or sign up for our newsletter, and be the first to know when it goes live! 


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

  • Autoteam

    great for toyota to try address the problem but it is much more deep seated than dry grass and inflamable objects near the engine bay. You need to compare with the experience of australian overlanders with the 120 series prado.
    Occasionally the 120 series seems go to up in flames when covering long distances in  the very dry desert! Not landcriuser or patrol or pajero! Australian travel TV personality Tony bosschieter of extreme 4×4 explains it has to do with friction between the prop shaft and some parts in proximty under the 120 series and even shows a few burnt shells! Food for thought

  • Grimmurray

    Toyota goes on about the risk of fires from long grass under the vehicle , but from the picture the vehicle is a long way from any source of external ignition. It looks as if Toyota are passing the buck on this one ( sand is the only thing under or around the burned out shell).

  • Tallies Taljaard

    when did this insident happen and where did it happen?

  • Callie de Jager

    Always have a fire extinguisher on board!