A WARNING has gone out to drivers to take care what they leave inside their car in the current spell of hot weather.
Fleet management experts Venson Automotive Solutions says there are numerous everyday items ranging from disposable lighters to cans of fizzy drink which can cause a problem.
The company cites a recent case where a cigarette lighter left on a car dashboard was implicated in a car fire due to the sun's rays causing it to catch fire.
Gil Kelly, operations director at Venson said: "Whilst a disposable cigarette lighter causing a fire in a car or van on a hot day is very rare, there are other everyday items that can still create a lot of damage to the interior of a vehicle.
"Some drivers take the risk of transporting combustible items including petrol in containers that are not ‘fit for purpose', increasing the risk of spontaneous combustion."
Venson says that a car is essentially like a greenhouse when it is parked in direct sunlight, with it taking just 10 minutes for the temperature inside to climb to hazardous levels.
A cigarette lighter has the ability to explode in high temperatures which can cause damage to glass inside the vehicle or burn holes in the seats.
"The cost of any damage to a leased vehicle can add up and will be determined at the end of the contract," added Gil Kelly. "Therefore, it is important to ensure that any internal damage is kept to a minimum and fleet managers can play a role in this by helping drivers understand the dangers some items cause when exposed to the sun.
"Drivers need to be mindful that when they leave their vehicle parked up, especially for long periods of time, they remove any objects which could cause damage through exposure to high temperatures, including items on the dashboard, seats, rear parcel shelf and boot."
Venson has put out a list of items which can pose a threat if left in a car in hot weather.
As well as lighters it highlights the dangers posed by pens which can burst, aerosol cans and disposable batteries which it says can leak acid when exposed to direct sunlight.
It also points out that plastic drink bottles can pose a danger since chemicals in the plastic can leak into the drink under hot conditions posing a risk to health.