We selected the Buckeye 13315 2.5 Lbs extinguisher for our car. Choosing this one as our top pick for our circumstances 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 personal preferences for a car extinguisher.
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 personal preferences for a vehicle fire extinguisher. In our opinion,
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
|Image||Title||Dry Chemical Net Weight||Class||Click to Edit||Our Rating||Prime||Buy|
|Top||Buckeye 13315||2.5 Lbs||ABC||This is our pick for the best car fire extinguisher. We feel the aluminum valve and pin are high quality to protect from failure that often occurs with plastic mechanisms.||8.5/10||Prime||Check Price on Amazon|
|First Alert AUTO5||>1 Lbs||BC||Affordable alternative to the Buckeye. This model is promoted as being designed for cars.||8/10||Prime||Check Price on Amazon|
|H3R Performance HalGuard HG100C (Clean Agent Extinguisher)||1.4 Lbs||BC||Best for sports cars. 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 the vehicle.||8/10||Prime||Check Price on Amazon|
|Amerex B417T (with Vehicle Bracket)||2.5 Lbs||ABC||This is an extinguisher from a respected brand that meets all our expectations. It comes with a regular vehicle bracket.||7/10||Prime||Check Price on Amazon|
|Victory Fire Extinguisher (with Vehicle Bracket)||2.5 Lbs||ABC||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.||7/10||Prime||Check 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 were impressed by this overall package that said “quality” to us.
We wanted a small 2.5 Lbs extinguisher like this one for our car. As James notes, this appears to be the best fit for most vehicles:
For storage purposes this one requires about 15 inches by 5 inches of space somewhere accessible in the car. For example, it could be mounted behind a seat or in the trunk. The Amazon page for this product provides some examples of how people have mounted this model in their cars.
The discharge range is 9 – 15 feet and the discharge time is about 9 seconds. We liked that we would be able to stand at a fair distance as we fight the 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 we’re 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. It could be mounted in the truck, or under a seat.
- Comes with Mount: The mount can be used to install it in the 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 we found in a small extinguisher like this one.
2. First Alert AUTO5 Car and Marine Fire Extinguisher
The drawing card of this extinguisher is its simple pin and trigger system. It’s also quite lightweight which adds to the sense that this is the fire extinguisher for someone who wants something that’s easy to use.
This extinguisher also comes with a mount which can be place in the car. However, we worry that it may require some drilling of holes to find a decent space for it to be mounted. As always, follow the correct mounting instructions provided in the instruction booklet.
The product diameters are 14.1 inches by 4.5 inches – so it’ll fit snugly somewhere in most vehicles.
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 personal standards.
- Simple Pin Mechanism: We like the simplicity of this one’s pin mechanism.
- Small & Comes with Mount: It measures 14.1 inches by 4.5 inches. For big trucks, it can be mounted under a seat, or otherwise it might be best mounted in the trunk.
- Easy to Read Pressure Gauge: Like the Buckeye, the pressure gauge on this one is really clear and color coded which helps users to 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 working with pressurized canisters.
- Mount: It might be a hassle to mount and may require some drilling by a trained professional.
3. H3R Performance HalGuard HG100C Clean Agent Extinguisher
This is a fire extinguisher that really intrigues us. 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 they 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 the industry 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 produces UL certified halotron extinguishers for the everyday consumer market. They’re the go-to extinguisher brand for sports car enthusiasts today.
Unfortunately there is usually a higher cost for these halotron extinguishers. Furthermore, 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 could fit really nicely in many cars.
Why This Extinguisher:
- Non-Corrosive: Unlike regular extinguishers, this one uses an aviation grade substance designed to be gentle on vehicles.
- Specifically Designed for Cars: Unlike some 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: We 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 comes with 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 most 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 (our chosen 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 in our opinion.
Keep in Mind:
- It’s Long: At 15.5 inches, it’s longer than most extinguishers on this list. This might be an issue for storing under some seats on smaller vehicles.
5. Victory 2.5 Lbs Extinguisher with Vehicle Bracket
This extinguisher ticks all our minimum standards for our circumstances so it makes the list. It’s a 2.5 Lbs extinguisher so it’s in the smaller range for extinguishers. We think this is good for a car because a car won’t have all that much space for storing an extinguisher. It’s also rated for ABC fires – so it is also used for electrical fires.
We 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, we’re pretty familiar with fire safety products and Victory isn’t a brand that we know (and therefore it’s not a brand we trust yet). We feel if we’re going to be buying an extinguisher that’s not a top brand (Amerex, First Alert, Kidde) then we’d expect to be paying less – and we don’t think the price point is low enough on this one for us to personally give it a shot at this point in time.
Why This Extinguisher:
- ABC Rated: It’s rated to deal with most common fires, including liquid and electronic fires.
- Small: At 2.5 Lbs, it’ll be compact enough to fit in most cars.
- Vehicle Mount: Comes with a vehicle mount for strapping it to a car.
Keep in Mind:
- Not a Well Known Brand: We 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 know for a similar price.
Buyers Guide: What to Look for in a Fire Extinguisher for your Car
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 we want a nice big extinguisher. But they’re also really heavy which can really get in the way when we 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 like the idea of a 5 pound extinguisher in the 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 our car. A 2.5 Lb extinguisher is usually 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 when used by a trained professional.
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 to us. Some people in some jurisdictions may also be required to have a Class A compatible extinguisher. 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, we expect a discharge time of 9 or 10 seconds. This means there are just 9 seconds to put out the fire. Of course, if we feel we are in danger, we remove ourselves from the vicinity of the fire and call emergency services immediately.
Metal Valve and Pin
Some fire extinguishers still use plastic valve, pin and discharge mechanisms. Some popular extinguishers on the market today that are advertised as ‘car fire extinguishers’ still have plastic mechanisms. We avoid these models. They often fail or break before use, which could put us in a tight spot when we need our extinguisher to work every time!
Furthermore, James likes getting 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:
We definitely wanted to buy an extinguisher with a vehicle mount. But we’re also cautious that a vehicle mount may still require some tools and skills in securing it to the vehicle. For example, some users might need to drill holes in certain areas on the vehicle to bolt the mount to the vehicle. For these cases, the instruction manual needs to be followed and professional assistance may be required.
Most ABC rated extinguishers are built of a dry chemical compound called monoammonium phosphate. All but one extinguisher on this list relies on dry chemical compounds. 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 a car’s metals. Nonetheless, it is not quite as effective at extinguishing fires than dry chemical compounds.
There are both rechargeable and non-rechargeable models of fire extinguishers. For rechargeable models, they can be recharged and reused for the next fire. Often local fire departments offer recharging services, but not always. It can be hard sometimes to find somewhere to recharge an extinguisher. Alternatively, users can get a disposable extinguisher that is thrown out once discharged.
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 users have to buy a new one (check the local requirements in your jurisdiction).
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. Driving safely and keeping distance from other cars can help.
2. Servicing a Car Regularly: Secondly, ensuring a car is taken to a qualified mechanic for regular services can prevent problems. These services can involve check-ups where the mechanic may identify issues before a fire occurs.
3. Check for Leaks: Sticky oils spilling over an engine or puddles starting to form under the car can be a red flag to get the car checked immediately. Those oils may cause danger to everyone.
4. Never Park over Long Dry Grass: The underside of a car can get very hot. When parked over long dry grass, the underside of the car could cause the car to catch alight. This is especially important on hot days or when the grass is dried out. Grass acts as kindling.
5. Transport Gasoline Safely: It is best not to transport gasoline, But when it’s transported, it should be moved inside a certified container and all local laws and regulations should be followed. Another thing to consider is to keep the gasoline out of the passenger compartment.
For our circumstances, we decided that 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 and we would have given it a lot of consideration if we had a sports car that we wanted to protect.
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.
This article has shared our opinions for our circumstances only, and is based on our online research and does not constitute advice, professional or otherwise. Your circumstances or experiences will differ from ours. Make sure you do your own research and due diligence and adhere to the rules laid out in our terms and conditions and disclaimer.
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
* Note: James is a real person, but we’ve used a pseudonym and stock photo to protect his identity. While we do our best to provide accurate information, including consulting with emergency services professionals like James, we cannot guarantee the currency, validity or suitability of the information on the site for your circumstances. See our terms, conditions and disclaimer for more details.