Fuel line failure from stress corrosion cracking

Lewis, Peter. R. and Hainsworth, Sarah. V. (2006). Fuel line failure from stress corrosion cracking. Engineering Failure Analysis, 13(6) pp. 946–962.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.engfailanal.2005.04.010


Following a head-on car accident in which one driver was seriously injured, the cause was established by police as a leaking diesel return pipe on a recovery vehicle. Examination showed that the pipe had separated radially, and the Forensic Science Service attributed the failure to vandalism. Closer inspection revealed a brittle fracture which showed several growth phases, the first. being initiated by stress corrosion cracking of the nylon connector in the pipe. The junction was immediately below the battery and it is likely that a drop of acid spilled onto it, starting the crack. it then grew at each successive start-up until final breakage. ESEM inspection showed fatigue-like striations and EDAX revealed the presence of sulphur. The injured driver was awarded substantial damages. There are continuing dangers from fuel line failures, both in car fires and creating hazards for other road users.

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