On March 22, Satish Sawant, an insurance agent in Mumbai, collected his brand new Nano from a showroom at 3:00 pm and headed home, dreaming of showing off his first car to his family at LIC Colony, Mulund (W).
At 3:45 pm, the car burst into flames at the Eastern Express Highway. Sawant jumped to safety.
Sawant had spent Rs 2.4 lakh on the silver Nano (MH03 AW 913), which he had got fitted with an A/C and a power steering.
So what caused the brand new car to burst into flames just 45 minutes after it left the showroom? Auto experts and car dealers say the Nano-in-flames situation could have been avoided.
Rajinder Jassal, who has over 25 years in the automobile electronics business, said heat can lead to short circuits, faulty sparkplugs and fuel leaks. "In the Nano, you have to slide the backseat and open the bolts to access the rear engine in an emergency. This takes time. In other cars, the engine can be accessed by opening the bonnet to douse the fire."
Car expert Vimal Shah, chairman, Projects of Western India Automobile Association agrees. "At the first sight or smell of smoke, disconnect the battery. Rodents too cause problems by gnawing at fuel pipes."
Parmeet Singh Sahani, who has an auto spare parts shop in Opera House, added that inferior cars parts from China can cause trouble. "When a car breaks down or is sent for servicing, mechanics often opt for cheaper options."
Metesh Shah, another dealer in car accessories, blamed unskilled labourers who install electronic gadgets.
"People go overboard with amplifiers and woofers. These increase the load on batteries and cause a short circuit."
Francis Xavier, an auto expert suggests that the radiator and fan, which cool the engine, should be serviced regularly.