Q:

What would cause a car battery to explode?

A:

Most car battery explosions are caused by thermal runaway, which is when the battery overheats, causing its cells to break open. Usually, one cell starts a chain reaction in which other cells rupture. A swollen battery is a less serious manifestation of the thermal runaway effect.

Both older lead-acid car batteries and newer lithium-ion car batteries are susceptible to the effects of thermal runaway, thus both types of battery can explode under the right circumstances. Because of their higher density, lithium ion batteries have the potential to explode more violently than their legacy lead-acid counterparts.

Thermal runaway can occur as the result of several issues. A short circuit in the vehicle's electrical system can overload the car battery to the point at which it overheats. Other batteries contain manufacturing defects, which make them more prone to trouble. Blocked or absent safety vents on sealed cells can cause them to overheat and rupture.

When one compartment in the battery overheats, it starts a domino effect. The overheated cell breaks apart and causes the cell next to it to overheat. In turn, all the cells in the battery overheat until the entire unit bursts into flames or explodes.

Another explosive risk for older lead-acid batteries is sheer age. As lead-acid batteries age, they lose water, causing the lead plates in the batteries to warp. Sometimes, the energy requirement of the vehicle upon ignition causes the warped plates to flex and touch one another, which can lead to a sudden explosion.

Learn More

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What could cause a car to squeal when accelerating?

    A:

    A loose or slipping engine belt or a misaligned accessory drive pulley could cause a car to squeal upon acceleration. Engine belts and drive pulleys are used to power the water pump, air-conditioning compressor and the alternator of an automobile.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What are some signs of an overcharged car battery?

    A:

    Signs of an overcharged car battery include loss of water, battery failure or a hydrogen explosion. In vehicles equipped with an onboard computer, the overcharging battery causes faulty error codes. The most common cause of overcharging is a faulty voltage regulator. If the batteries fail prematurely, check the regulator or have an expert check it.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    How do you jump start a car battery?

    A:

    To jump start a car battery, expose the dead and working batteries, connect them with jump leads, start the working car, wait one minute, start the other car, wait several minutes, and unlink the batteries. This 45-minute procedure requires jump cables and a car with a working battery.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    How can you hook up a car battery charger?

    A:

    Car battery chargers  connect to car batteries  with  positive and negative cables and  clamps, which are usually red and black and marked with a plus and minus sign. The positive  clamps  connect to the positive posts on the batteries themselves, and the negative clamps connect to vehicle frames or some  other unpainted surface away from the battery.

    Full Answer >

Explore