Have you ever had the pleasant experience of feeling that everything’s going your way? That every light you reach is green, your cards are all aces, and you sink every putt? The expression for this is… You’re on fire.

But let’s say it’s a 90-degree day, you’re driving and suddenly it’s more than a figure of speech: smoke and flames are pouring out from under your hood. What do you do?

Rare Occurrence

While relatively rare, spontaneous car fires — those not associated with an auto body accident or collision — do occur. About 80 percent of those not caused deliberately are the result of mechanical or electrical problems: pin-hole leaks in hoses and tubes that carry flammable liquids in the engine compartment, or frayed or faulty electrical wiring.

Cars have been known to catch fire not only while moving, but while parked and unoccupied. Some fires have been ignited by the heat of a catalytic converter against tall grass, others by faulty wiring under the dashboard.

Serious Dangers

Car fires can generate heat upwards of 1500oF, cause flames to leap out 10 feet and spew toxic gases. They can also cause parts of a vehicle – like bumpers and hatchback struts, two-piece tire rims, drive shafts and engine parts – to explode, shooting shrapnel great distances.

Here are the do’s and don’ts if your car catches on fire:

• If you’re driving, turn on your emergency flashers and pull onto the road shoulder.

• Get out of and at least 20 feet away from the vehicle.

• If you can, dial 911 for emergency assistance.

• Don’t open the hood or trunk. You’ll let in air that will feed the fire and may cause it to erupt in your face.

• Think twice about trying to extinguish the fire yourself. When battling vehicle fires, firefighters wear full protective fire-resistant clothing and use a self-contained breathing apparatus.

• Don’t return to your car to collect personal property.