Thursday, October 27, 2016

Safety Reminder: Fuel Systems and Plumbing

We love modifying cars as much as the next guy but things need to be done properly. Original Equipment Manufactures (OEMs) go through a lot of testing to ensure that flammable liquids stay inside their respective systems. Not only does a car run better when fuel and oil are kept in the correct places, but it is much much safer as well. When we modify our cars, we need to make sure that we are paying attention and respect the systems we are working with.

In a recent blog, we mentioned the merits of good practices when plumbing or wiring a modified car but the safety aspect needs to be addressed as well. Fuel and oil lines are not places to save money on cheaper parts, they are not places to save time while building, and attention needs to be paid to how these systems are routed and secured. Too many times have we found loose oil or fuel lines in a vehicle that were about to cause an issue. We even had a problem during our Drakan testing when an OEM fuel connector came off the hard line it was attached to because too much movement was allowed. A simple ziptie fixed any future problem.

Below is an example of what a fuel fire can look like inside a car. This video shows the speed at which a fuel fire can start, the importance of safety gear (it is not all created equally by the way) and the importance of practicing getting out of your car in an emergency. While we do not know the cause of the fuel fire in this vehicle, it is a very eye opening look at the seriousness of a fuel fire, no matter the cause.
This is especially relevant to the Lotus Elise and Exige community because the design of the stock fuel tank allows the engine to be fuel starved in left hand turns when low on fuel. In our opinion, there are two ways to safely take care of this issue.
  1. Keep your tank topped up.
  2. Use a baffled fuel tank like our V2 Tank .
We like a baffled fuel tank because it retains OEM wiring and fuel plumbing. Another solution is a surge tank, but we do not recommend them.  Surge tanks require that you make modifications to the fuel system and wiring system to install them. We have seen 2 cars that have caught on fire from issues related to the surge tank. No matter how well designed a product is, all things being equal, more points of failure mean more opportunity for failure.

Here another video of a Lotus Exige on fire:

Here is less alarming (actually quite funny) video from another fire. This one is more likely oil related than fuel, but the lessons still apply.

So please remember:
  1. Pay attention when modifying fuel, oil, or wiring systems.
  2.  Wear your safety gear! 

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