Rosie and we selected the Buckeye 13315 2.5 Lbs extinguisher for our car. We think it is the best fire extinguisher for cars and trucks.
Choosing this one as our top pick took some time. There are some really poor quality so-called “vehicle fire extinguishers” on the market at the moment. So we had to do a lot of digging around for an extinguisher that met our requirements for a car extinguisher.
Our Selection Criteria
I wanted an extinguisher that was small enough to fit discretely in our car so it had to be small. We decided the best size should be around 14 inches in length and 2.5 Lbs of substance so it’d fit snugly under a seat or in the trunk. We also wanted a vehicle mount included in the delivery so we could quickly and easily secure it in our car.
We also think it’s important that the extinguisher has a metal valve and pin. There is a long history of faulty extinguishers due to plastic mechanisms so it was important that we avoid plastic as much as possible. Lastly, something we like in a fire extinguisher is an easily visible pressure gauge so we can quickly assess if it still has charge.
For Full Selection Criteria and things to Consider, Jump to the Buyers Guide at the Bottom of this Article.
You’d think that this criteria would be easy to find – it wasn’t. But at the end of the day we’re happy with this pick and I’m glad we shopped around so much before making our choice.
We also want to share with you our other picks for fire extinguishers that we think also meet our standard for a vehicle fire extinguisher. Each of these ones should also serve you well depending on your specific needs, which I’ll outline below.
The best fire extinguishers for cars are:
- Buckeye 13315 2.5 Lbs Extinguisher
- First Alert FE10GR Car and Marine Fire Extinguisher
- H3R Performance HalGuard HG100C Clean Agent Extinguisher
- Amerex B417T 2.5 Lbs Extinguisher with Vehicle Bracket
- Victory 2.5 Lbs Extinguisher with Vehicle Bracket
Best Fire Extinguishers for Cars
The Best Car Fire Extinguishers
Dry Chemical Net Weight
1. Buckeye 13315 (Best Quality Overall)
This is our pick for the best car fire extinguisher. The aluminum valve and pin are highest quality to protect from failure that often occurs with plastic mechanisms. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)
2. First Alert FE10GR Car and Marine Fire Extinguisher (Affordable Option)
An affordable alternative to the Buckeye and many people might prefer to go with this one given the price point is quite a bit lower for similar quality. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)
3. H3R Performance HalGuard HG100C Clean Agent Extinguisher (Best for Sports Cars)
This one is for sports car enthusiasts. It does not use the regular dry chemical substance. Instead it uses a clean agent called Halotron designed to be non-corrosive to minimize damage to your car. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)
4. Amerex B417T with Vehicle Bracket
An extinguisher from a respected brand that meets all our expectations. Comes with a regular vehicle bracket. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)
5. Victory with Vehicle Bracket
While this one does tick all our boxes in terms of specifications, it’s not a brand we know too well which is why we didn’t end up going with it. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)
Related Post: Best Fire Extinguishers for RVs and Campers
1. Buckeye 13315 2.5 Lbs Extinguisher
There are a lot of different criteria that go into selecting a high quality fire extinguisher, and we felt this one had the best all-round product.
It feels like it is built sturdily with good quality metal parts, has a clear color-coded pressure gauge that shows when it’s out of charge, and comes with a neat little vehicle mount so it won’t roll around in the trunk. We was impressed by this overall package that said “quality” to me.
You’ll most likely want a small 2.5 Lbs extinguisher like this one for your car. As James notes, this appears to be the best fit for most vehicles:
For storage purposes you’ll need about 15 inches by 5 inches in space. If you’ve got a bit of space on your car you could mount it behind your seat, or otherwise in your trunk. Take a look at the photos on the Amazon page for some examples of how people have mounted it in their cars.
The discharge range is 9 – 15 feet and the discharge time is about 9 seconds. So you’ll be able to stand at a fair distance as you fight a vehicle fire.
It’s also independently certified, which is always comforting. It’s back by an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) rating. The UL rating is required in most states for the sale of fire extinguishers, so I’m glad this one ticked that box. Its rating is 1-A:10-B:C, which basically means it’s effective at fighting liquid and electrical fires.
Another pro of the certification is it’s been tested to withhold up to 120 degrees heat while in storage – which is something to keep in mind when storing an extinguisher in a car during summer.
Why This Extinguisher:
- Small & Fits Under Seat: It measures 15 inches by 5 inches. If you’ve got a big truck you can mount it under your seat, or otherwise it might be best mounted in your trunk.
- Comes with Mount: You can use the mount to install it in your car.
- Quality Aluminum Build: No plastic pins or valves like in other extinguishers on the market today.
- UL Certified: Comes with independent certification for A, B and C Class fires. Car fires are usually B and C class (liquid and electrical fires).
- Good Discharge Time: The 9-15 foot discharge range and 9 second discharge time is about the best you can expect in a small extinguisher like this one.
2. First Alert AUTO5 Car and Marine Fire Extinguisher
The drawing card of this extinguisher is its simplicity. Just about anyone can use the pin and trigger mechanism. It’s also quite lightweight which adds to the sense that this is the fire extinguisher for the complete beginner.
You’ll get a mount for this one as well which you can place in your car, but you may need to drill some holes to find a decent space for it to be mounted. Always the correct mounting instructions provided in the instruction booklet. You’ll be looking at 14.1 inches by 4.5 inches as product diameters – so it’ll fit snugly somewhere in your vehicle for sure.
Another great aspect of this rechargeable extinguisher is its very long 10 year warranty. James explains:
But there are some downsides to getting this extinguisher, too.
The First Alert FE10GR holds sodium bicarbonate BC dry chemical and does not have an “A” rating like some others on this list. You may prefer an “ABC” rated extinguisher such as the Buckeye 13315 above. As James notes, ABC rated extinguishers have some benefits over and above BC rated extinguishers for cars:
But while ABC extinguishers are more versatile, some people still prefer a BC rated extinguisher for their car. BC rated extinguishers are easier to clean up and can cause less corrosive damage to your engine:
Again, we’d like to emphasize that in your industry or local jurisdiction, there may be rules about which type you need. You’ll need to find out what is the recommended (or even required) extinguisher type for your own situation. Personally, we prefer the Buckeye 13315 2.5 Lbs extinguisher.
Why This Extinguisher:
- Affordable: Comparable to the Buckeye above but comes in at a lower price point. We do prefer the build quality of the Buckeye, but this one still meets our standards.
- Simple Pin Mechanism: I like the simplicity of this one which means you’ll be able to use it under pressure (hopefully!)
- Small & Comes with Mount: It measures 14.1 inches by 4.5 inches. If you’ve got a big truck you can mount it under your seat, or otherwise it might be best mounted in your trunk.
- Easy to Read Pressure Gauge: Like the Buckeye, the pressure gauge on this one is really clear and color coded so you know when it’s time to recharge or buy a new one.
Keep in Mind:
- Warranty and Returns: The 10 year warranty is great … but returns and shipping can be a hassle when you’re working with pressurized canisters.
- Mount: It might be a hassle to mount and you may need to do some drilling.
3. H3R Performance HalGuard HG100C Clean Agent Extinguisher
This is a fire extinguisher that really intrigues me. It uses a non-corrosive ‘clean agent’ substance that’s designed specifically to be non-corrosive.
Many sports car enthusiasts want this non-corrosive substance to protect their car from collateral damage when it’s sprayed.
The substance is called halotron. Back in the 90s we used to almost always use Halon 1211 in ABC fire extinguishers. But after it was discovered that Halon 1211 was bad for the Ozone layer we all switched to a dry chemical substance called monoammonium phosphate which is more corrosive when sprayed onto metals.
But the aviation industry needed a solution that was non-corrosive to their airplanes so they went to halotron.
H3R is produces UL certified halotron extinguishers for the everyday consumer market. They’re the go-to extinguisher for sports car enthusiasts today.
Unfortunately you’ll be paying through the nose for these halotron extinguishers and they’re not as effective pound for pound. As James notes:
But H3R really do position themselves as a premium brand. The chrome finish on this extinguisher is really stylish and goes well with chrome finishes on some cars.
It’s also only 10 inches high and 3.6 inches wide so it fits really nicely in your car.
Why This Extinguisher:
- Non-Corrosive: Unlike regular extinguishers, this one uses an aviation grade substance designed to be gentle on your car.
- Specifically Designed for Cars: Unlike other extinguishers on this list, H3R had cars in mind when they designed this extinguisher. The chrome finish and fat, short shape are more intuitive for cars.
- Small: At just 10 inches long, this is one of the smallest extinguishers on this list.
- Sleek: I love the chrome finish.
Keep in Mind:
- Not as Effective as Dry Chemicals: While it’s still UL certified, H3R notes that halotron extinguishers are ‘good’ against Class B and C fires while dry chemical substances are ‘very good’.
- The Price: These halotron extinguishers are premium extinguishers for sports cars so come at a premium price.
4. Amerex B417T 2.5 Lbs Extinguisher with Vehicle Bracket
This fire extinguisher is from one of our favorite brands; plus, it’s got a quality vehicle bracket. The extinguisher also has the important key specifications that we usually look for in an extinguisher for a car: A-B-C certified for liquid and electrical fires, 10 second discharge time, and 2.5 Lbs. of substance. All the specs that tick our boxes.
Something that does jump out is the dimensions of this one are a few inches bigger than most. It measures 15.5 inches by 5.75 inches. At these dimensions it might not be the best for fitting under a seat, but would fit fine on your roll bars.
It’s worth noting that this fire extinguisher is also out top pick as a US CoastGuard Approved fire extinguisher for boats.
Lastly, Amerex is a trusted and respected brand in the fire extinguisher space (my garage extinguisher is an Amerex).
Why This Extinguisher:
- Comes with Vehicle Bracket: The Amerex B417T usually comes with a vehicle bracket. Check with your supplier before purchasing.
- Quality Brand: Amerex is one of the most trusted brands in the fire safety industry.
- Easy-to-Read Pressure Gauge: The gauge on this one is also high quality and good enough
Keep in Mind:
- It’s Long: At 15.5 inches, it’s longer than most extinguishers on this list. This might be an issue if you want to store it under a seat.
5. Victory 2.5 Lbs Extinguisher with Vehicle Bracket
This extinguisher ticks all our minimum standard boxes so it makes the list. It’s a 2.5 Lbs extinguisher so it’s in the smaller range for extinguishers. That’s of course best for a car because a car won’t have all that much space for storing your extinguisher. It’s also rated for ABC fires – so it’ll be good for liquid and electrical fires.
I also like the simple gauge which has a red and green zone for knowing if the extinguisher is well charged.
However, we did have a few concerns which is why we didn’t go with this one. Mainly, I’m pretty familiar with fire safety products and Victory isn’t a brand that we know (and therefore it’s not a brand we trust). We feel if I’m going to be buying an extinguisher that’s not a top brand (Amerex, First Alert, Kidde) then I’d expect to be paying less – and we don’t think the price point is low enough on this one for me to give it a shot at this point in time.
Why This Extinguisher:
- ABC Rated: Fights most common fires effectively, including liquid and electronic fires.
- Small: At 2.5 Lbs, it’ll be compact enough to fit in a car.
- Vehicle Mount: Comes with a vehicle mount for strapping it to your car.
Keep in Mind:
- Not a Well Known Brand: I steered clear of this one personally because it’s not a top brand and the price point doesn’t justify getting a less well known brand here when we can get a brand that we trust for a similar price.
Buyers Guide: What to Look for in a Fire Extinguisher for your Car
Light Weight – Go for 2.5 Lbs.
Fire extinguishers come in roughly three sizes: 2.5 Lbs, 5 Lbs and 10 Lbs. Each size has its pros and cons.
A 10 Lb extinguisher is great in a garage or workshop where you want a nice big extinguisher for putting out bigger fires. But they’re also really heavy which can really get in the way when you need to be agile to get to (and away from) a fire.
A 5 Lb extinguisher strikes a nice balance between discharge time (20 seconds is pretty normal for a 5 pounder) and weight. We keep a 5 pound extinguisher in our kitchen. But it’s usually a little too big to fit into a car discretely.
So we go for the 2.5 Lb fire extinguisher for cars because it is small enough to fit in a car. You can expect a 2.5 Lb extinguisher to be around 14 – 15 inches long and 5 inches wide.
The Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is an independent certification company that many governments use as a benchmark for assessing the quality of products. Many states in the United States require that any fire extinguisher sold in those states have a UL certification – so it’s pretty important to have one.
UL provides certifications for fire extinguishers using a number and letter symbol such as 5-B:C. 5-B:C means that the extinguisher can handle Class B and C fires and can cover a 5 square foot fire.
UL certifications often also test an extinguisher against hot and cold conditions while in storage. For example, several extinguishers on this list were rated to be store-able in up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Check each extinguisher for the specific details on this.
ABC fire extinguishers are the most common fire extinguishers for daily use. Each letter symbolizes a certain class of fire.
Class A fires have everyday combustibles as their fuel. This includes paper, plastic and wood.
Class B fires have liquids and gases as their fuel. Liquids include gasoline and oils that you would find in a car. Car fires are very commonly Class B fires, so it’s very important that any car fire extinguisher has Class B compatibility.
Class C fires are fires that involve electrical charged materials. A car fire may be electrically charged, particularly if the fire involves the car battery. It’s therefore important that a car fire extinguisher be Class C compatible.
So, when looking for a car fire extinguisher, Class B and C compatibility are very important. You may also be required to have a Class A compatible extinguisher depending on where you are and what you’re doing. So, an ABC fire extinguisher is usually a good fit (see the requirements specific to your needs).
Discharge Time – 9 or 10 Seconds is Standard
A larger extinguisher will have a longer discharge time. But for a 2.5 Lb extinguisher such as those on this list, you should be able to expect a discharge time of 9 or 10 seconds. This means you have just 9 seconds to put out the fire so aim true. If you feel you are in danger, it’s best to remove yourself from the vicinity of the fire and call your emergency services.
Metal Valve and Pin
Some fire extinguishers still use plastic valve, pin and discharge mechanisms. Beware that some popular extinguishers on the market today that are advertised as ‘car fire extinguishers’ still have plastic mechanisms. These should be avoided. They often fail or break before use, which can put you in a tight spot when you need your extinguisher to work every time!
Furthermore, James advises that you get an extinguisher with good tight valves that don’t rattle:
Furthermore, James notes that plastic brackets and aluminum cylinders are not a good idea for vehicle fire extinguishers due to the variations in temperatures inside cars:
I definitely wanted to buy an extinguisher with a vehicle mount. Once you get the extinguisher, you’re going to want to secure it firmly inside your vehicle so it doesn’t roll all around the place. But beware, a vehicle mount may still require some tools and skills in securing it to the vehicle. For example, you might need to drill holes in certain areas on the vehicle to bolt the mount to the vehicle. Check your instruction manual when you get the mount.
Most ABC rated extinguishers are built of a dry chemical compound called monoammonium phosphate. All but one extinguisher on this list relies on this dry chemical compound. But the H3R extinguisher on this list uses halotron as its compound. Halotron is an aviation-grade extinguisher that’s designed to be non-corrosive so it will be softer on your car’s metals. Nonetheless, it is not quite as effective at extinguishing fires than dry chemical compounds.
You may like to get a rechargeable extinguisher. This means that once it’s been used you can add more substance to it so it’s ready for the next fire. Often local fire brigades offer recharging services, but not always. It can be hard sometimes to find somewhere to recharge your extinguisher. Alternatively, you can get a disposable extinguisher that is thrown out once discharged and you buy a new one.
Most fire extinguishers come with warranties – but we like a 10 year warranty, as this backs the extinguisher for its natural lifetime. Usually an extinguisher needs to be discarded after 10 years and you have to buy a new one. So, 10 years is an ideal warranty time frame.
What Causes Car Fires?
Wiring and Electrical Faults
Car fires can be caused by wires that have become frayed or come loose. When wires fray, the exposed raw wire can cause sparks or cross with other wires and start a fire. This is exacerbated when there is both a loose wire and spilled fluids under the bonnet.
Red flags to look out for are old wiring in older vehicles, poor re-wiring and electrical work, and blown fuses.
Oil and Fluid Leaks
Oils and fluids such as engine oil, gasoline, brake fluid and transmission oil are highly flammable. When these oils leak, they are likely to leak onto a hot engine where they are particularly susceptible to fire.
Oil may leak due to car age, frayed or cracked engine parts, overfilling, and caps not being screwed in securely.
Car accidents often lead to the above to situations: electrical faults and oil spills. A crushed car will often lead to significant fluid spills all over the roads. These spills may lead to a fire if an electrical wire or friction during the accident sends sparks into the fuels. This is very dangerous because gasoline in particular is highly flammable.
Poor quality servicing and maintenance can also lead to car fires. A wrongly wired electrical circuit, use of the wrong grade electrical insulation, or poorly installed pieces of machinery may all lead to fires. Ensure you use a qualified mechanic when getting maintenance on your car.
Furthermore, infrequent maintenance and lack of regular servicing may lead to fires. If a car is not serviced regularly, small faults may not be identified until they lead to failures that could cause fires.
Overheating of a car engine will occur if the cooling system fails. A broken coolant line, broken coolant pump, or cracked radiator, may lead to car overheating. Similarly, if a car runs low on coolant, the engine will overheat. It is important to keep your eye on the temperature gauge on your dashboard and pull over immediately if it indicates that the car is overheating.
How to Prevent a Car Fire
Most avoidable car fires can be prevented through some simple steps.
1. Drive Safely: Firstly, one of the best ways to prevent a car fire is to not get into a car crash in the first place. Drive safely and keep your distance from other cars.
2. Service your Car Regularly: Secondly, ensure your car is taken to a qualified mechanic for regular services. These services can involve check-ups where the mechanic may identify issues before a fire occurs.
3. Check for Leaks: If you see sticky oils spilling over your engine or puddles starting to form under your car, get your car checked immediately. Those oils may cause danger to you and your family.
4. Never Park over Long Dry Grass: The underside of your car can get very hot. When you park your car, make sure it is not parked over long grass. This is especially important on hot days or when the grass is dried out. Grass acts as kindling and can catch fire when it comes in contact with the hot underside of your car.
5. Transport Gasoline Safely: It is best not to transport gasoline. But if you must, try to keep it secured inside a certified container. Keep the gasoline out of the passenger compartment and keep windows open for ventilation.
What to Do if your Car is on Fire
If your car catches fire and you are driving, you need to stop as quickly as possible. If you can pull over to the side of the road, do so. Don’t forget to use your indicator and hazard lights so you will not cause a car accident. Turn the car off and get everyone out of the car immediately.
If the car has caught fire due to a car accident, remove yourself and everyone else from the car as rapidly as possible.
Once everyone is out of the car, they must move at least 100 feet away from the fire. Call your emergency hotline (such as 9-1-1) immediately.
If you are trained in using a car fire extinguisher, you can use it to put the fire out. Only use the extinguisher once you have assessed the situation and it is safe to do so.
If the fire is under the bonnet, do not open the bonnet. Opening the bonnet may cause the fire to get access to more oxygen which can cause the fire to flare. Instead, the fire should be put out through any gaps where possible by someone trained in fire extinguisher use. See the video below for an example of a man who knew the danger posed by opening the bonnet so he called the fire brigade to do it professionally. Sometimes firefighters may crack the car bonnet open just enough that there is space to discharge the extinguisher through the bonnet.
If the fire is in the rear of the car, evacuate the area immediately. The fuel tank may be compromised which could cause a significant explosion.
In our opinion, the best fire extinguisher for cars and trucks is the Buckeye 13315 2.5 Lbs extinguisher.
However, we do think the H3R Performance HalGuard HG100C Clean Agent Extinguisher is an interesting pick especially if you have a sports car.
In selecting a car fire extinguisher, we made sure that it was a small 2.5 pound extinguisher that could fit in the car snugly. We made sure it was UL certified and had a discharge time of 9-10 seconds. We was also adamant that the extinguisher come with aluminum pin and valve mechanisms, a clearly visible pressure gauge, and a vehicle mount for securing the extinguisher to the car.
Lastly, while you’re here, you might want to consider putting a fire blanket in your car. They can be really valuable if you identify a fire while you’re in your car that can be put out using a blanket rather than an extinguisher. This often happens, for example, when you’re out cooking at a picnic and a fire flares up.
Please seek professional advice in your local jurisdiction before making a decision on which fire extinguisher is right for you.
- Underwriter Laboratories – Fire Extinguisher Independent Certifications
- H3R Halotron Extinguisher FAQs