Is it safe to leave a cigarette lighter in a hot car?

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McLaren P1 in the desert

Drivers are being warned to leave these key items out of their cars in the heat.

With temperatures continuing along recent highs, fleet experts from Venson Automotive Solutions are reminding drivers of the dangers of leaving certain everyday items in their vehicles. 

From inflammable goods such as disposable cigarette lighters and aerosol canisters, to canned fizzy drinks, there are numerous things that can potentially cause damage to an interior of a vehicle and which could cost hundreds of pounds to repair – or worse still, cause an accident or injury to the driver or passengers.

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It may sound like an urban myth, says Venson, but a cheap disposable cigarette lighter left on a car dashboard was recently implicated in a car fire due to the sun’s rays causing it to catch fire. A car is essentially like a greenhouse when it is parked in direct sunlight, with it taking a mere 10 minutes for the temperature inside to climb to hazardous levels. 

A cigarette lighter has the ability to explode in high temperatures which can cause damage to glass inside the vehicle or burn holes in the seats.

Gil Kelly, operations director at Venson, said: “While a disposable cigarette lighter causing a fire in a car or van on a hot day is very rare, there are other everyday items that can still create a lot of damage to the interior of a vehicle. Some drivers take the risk of transporting combustible items including petrol in containers that are not ‘fit for purpose’, increasing the risk of spontaneous combustion.”

What NOT to leave in a vehicle when the temperature soars according to the fleet experts

Disposable lighter
Lighters are very dangerous to have in a vehicle because they have the ability to explode in high temperatures which can cause damage to glass inside the vehicle or burn holes in the seats.

Pens
Maybe small but can burst and leave ink in the vehicle. Clean-up can be expensive and stains a challenge to remove.

Aerosol cans
Whether lubricants, paint or deodorant the pressure inside the container can build-up and explode in high temperatures. Check the side of the can for storage instructions.

Disposable batteries
Heat can make acid in batteries prone to leaking. If this happens when left on a seat it can burn holes in the upholstery.

Plastics
Plastics can melt in high temperatures, and never drink from a plastic water bottle that has been left in the car. Chemicals in the bottle's plastic could leak into the drink and cause health problems.

Petrol canisters
If the vehicle heats up from the sun, vapours inside the canister can expand and the increasing pressure will not allow the vapours to escape, which could result in the canister exploding. Make sure you use a ‘fit for purpose’ canister.

Canned carbonated beverage 
If left inside the vehicle in blistering heat, can blow up.