Car On Fire Riddled With Bullets
Photo credit: Car From Japan

Reality vs. Hollywood: Shooting Gas Tanks

Published January 13, 2024 at 1:45 PM

The cinematic spectacle of a vehicle exploding with a gunshot to its gas tank often blurs the line between fiction and reality, leading many to question the actual outcome of such incidents.

Exploring the science behind a car blowing up reveals that three crucial elements—oxidizing agent, heat, and fuel—are necessary for a fire to occur. Without the presence of any one of these elements, ignition is impossible.

In the context of automobiles, the meager amount of oxygen in the fuel tank acts as a preventive measure against immediate ignition and subsequent explosions.

To make a car explode by shooting the gas tank, it requires punching a hole to allow oxygen entry and heat generation. This elevates the gasoline temperature to around 500°F, leading to an explosion.

Contrary to the dramatic scenes depicted in action movies, real-world experiments conducted by experts demonstrate that even three shots into the tank do not necessarily result in a fire.

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Regular bullets, as portrayed in movies, do not ignite the fire. However, "Tracer or Incendiary" bullets, equipped with a pyrotechnic charge, fired from a considerable distance with the gasoline tank as the target, can cause explosions in certain cases.

Considering the safety of gas tanks, regulatory authorities have implemented strict security standards to prevent easy combustion, particularly during instances of sudden stress on vehicles that generate heat through friction.

Armed with this industrial knowledge, you can approach car accidents or gunshots without unnecessary panic, understanding the complexities of actual outcomes in such scenarios. Explore more insights on car safety and debunking myths.

Credits: Car From Japan
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