If you are wondering how to choose a fire extinguisher for a classic car, we can’t stress enough the importance of making the right decision. Of course, you’ll want to protect your pride and joy from the risk of fires, which can increase with older vehicles which have a longer history.

At FEV, while our main focus is on fire extinguishers for the motorsport industry, we nonetheless have numerous clients who own classic, historic and retro cars. We provide these customers with handheld car fire extinguishers and, at the same time, can offer advice on the most suitable extinguishers for their models and their specific needs – for example, according to what the vehicle will be used for. Sometimes it is necessary to use a plumbed-in extinguisher in historic cars, especially when competing in motorsport events.

What type of fire extinguishers are most commonly used in classic cars?

Most classic car owners opt for a handheld extinguisher, and while some of the bigger branches of stores such as Halfords sell dry-powder extinguishers for a range of motor vehicles, at FEV we always recommend Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) or gas-based versions for classic vehicles.

Why we recommend AFFF over dry powder models for this type of vehicle

When it comes to protecting your classic car from fires and the ensuing damage, AFFF and gas are typically better solutions than those based on dry powder, and for various reasons. They tend to leave far less damage in their wake, not to mention less corrosion to the vehicle and engine than their dry-powder counterparts.

Gas-based extinguishers also have the added advantage of taking up less space, and are lighter, which obviously makes a difference if you are racing or travelling long distances.

Equally, gas is vastly superior both at actually putting out blazes and protecting engines plus their various components from damage. We’ll be honest, these models can cost a little more. However, if you own a much-prized valuable or rare classic motor, it’s an investment that’s pretty much always well worth making.

However, we would add that if you do have a smaller budget. AFFF foam is still highly effective – plus, it’s the most environmentally friendly option and will do a good job of protecting both the driver and the classic vehicle. Admittedly it’s still a bit messier than a gas-based solution, but less so than dry powder, and so will cause less damage to your car, its engine and components if you need to activate the extinguisher.

What about halon-based extinguishers?

Halon gas-based extinguishers are no longer legal in the UK after their use was banned in 2003. NOVEC 1230, the trademarked brand name for the line of electronics coolant liquids and fire protection fluid sold commercially by 3M and also known as dry water, is now preferred. It’s a different and more environmentally friendly, type of gas extinguishant.

Classic cars: plumbed-in or handheld fire extinguisher?

Generally speaking, handheld extinguishers are the models of choice for use in classic cars. However, if you’re competing with your classic motor in any kind of tournament, race or similar event, it may well be worth investing in a plumbed-in system. Indeed, this may actually be a requirement for participating, depending on the event. You always need to check this in plenty of time to ensure compliance – it would be a frustrating thing to be disqualified for!

A plumbed-in solution could also be absolutely right for you if:

  • You want extra protection for your classic car
  • You have a particularly expensive vehicle
  • Space, weight and budget aren’t particular issues

Where should I mount my fire extinguisher?

When you are deciding where to mount your extinguisher in your classic car, it’s always very important to be sure you mount it somewhere you can easily reach it from the driver’s seat. That may sound an obvious one, but it’s surprising how often people don’t do this.

So don’t even think about just sticking it in the boot or, even worse, mounting it in there. Be sure that it remains no further than arm’s length from your position in the driving seat.

Browse our classic fire extinguishers

At FEV, we’re leaders in the race car and motorsport fire extinguisher marketplace. Among our models are handheld fire extinguishers for classic cars, all ready to order from our online store. We don’t just sell them, though. If you’re in need of some advice on the best fire extinguisher for your classic car, we’ll be more than happy to help – just get in touch for an informal chat.

At the same time, we offer a full range of FIA-approved plumbed-in fire extinguishers as well as mounting brackets and related extinguisher accessories – take a look at our website or give us a call today to learn more.