Overheated Nitrous Bottle Explodes In The Trunk Of A Mustang

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Nitrous oxide is a power adder with several great qualities: it’s affordable, it’s relatively easy to setup, and perhaps it’s biggest selling point, it’s the only form of power adding you can just turn on or off depending on your mood. On the flipside, however, it’s incredibly volatile, requiring tedious care and attention to detail, because one wrong move or mistake can be devastating. And what you see here is the very definition of devastation, caused by the complete failure of a nitrous oxide bottle that was positioned in the hatch area of this Fox body Mustang.

According to the information posted with the image by the folks at CJ Pony Parts, and now confirmed today by News West 9 in Midland, Tex., the bottle was left in the car, closed up, on a hot summer day. A costly mistake, that was.

Nitrous bottles have specific temperature and internal pressure ratings, which are imposed to keep the bottle within a safe operating range. As the bottles heat up, their internal pressure rises (just as a tire would on a sunny day). It’s for this reason why you never want to leave your bottle heater on for too long a period of time, and certainly the reason why you never, ever want to use a torch to warm the bottle (even worse, this also weakens the structure of the bottle). But as you can imagine, on a 90-plus degree day in the sun, the temperature inside the car can reach well into the 100’s. With that ambient temperature inside and the sun beating down on the bottle through the glass, the recipe is there for disaster.

Fortunately, nitrous oxide companies are well ahead of the curve on situations like these, as any bottle produced today has a safety blow-off cap or disc installed that will safely release the pent-up pressure once it exceeds a specific psi rating before the bottle can explode. While we’d hate to speculate and falsely accuse the owner of the vehicle of any wrong-doing,  tampering with or incorrectly installing the safety valves on a bottle can render these safety features useless. And in this case, the valves/discs clearly didn’t function as they were designed to.

As you can certainly surmise looking at the photo, nitrous oxide can be deadly. And we’re not talking kind-of deadly, but the kind of deadly that renders you unrecognizable. It completely destroyed this Mustang, peeling the steel fenders and the entire hatch away from the car. And according to the News West 9 report, the windshield of the car was found on the roof of the home, and parts and pieces were blown several houses away.

Nitrous oxide can be your best friend and your worst enemy, but heed the words of the safety manuals and care for it properly, and this won’t ever be you.

About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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