The fiery car smash that killed Fast & Furious star Paul Walker may have been caused by a car malfunction, according to new reports.
The 40-year-old actor was killed on Saturday when the red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT he was a passenger in hit a utility pole and burst into flames in Santa Clarita, California.
While authorities are still trying to work out what triggered the accident, TMZ reports the sports car suffered a mechanical failure and a possible steering fluid leak.
The website writes that sources connected to Always Evolving - the shop co-owned by Walker and the Porsche driver Roger Rodas (who also died) - told TMZ they saw evidence of a fluid burst and subsequent fluid trail before the skid marks at the accident scene.
The sources also made evident the absence of skids leading up to where the crash took place, with marks only noticeable before the point of impact. They claim if Roada had lost control of the vehicle there would be visible signs on the road from swerving rather than in a straight line, suggesting he didn't have control of the steering.
Always Evolving insiders also pointed out how bizarre it was the flames didn't start from where the engine was fitted in the car.
The car, which cost US$500,000, was reportedly not modified as it was rarely driven.
As investigators continue to probe the fatal car crash, police in the US have warned fans against burning rubber near the spot where he was killed.
Fans of the Fast & Furious franchise have apparently been paying tribute by pulling hot rod stunts on the four-lane stretch of road where the accident occurred.
One manoeuvre reported was drifting, an illegal technique in which the driver intentionally oversteers, causing the rear wheels to skid and making the car slide from side to side.
"We sent deputies to the accident location this morning after we started getting reports of drivers burning rubber and spinning tyres at the site," Santa Clarita sheriff's office spokesman Richard Cohen said.
"So far I haven't had any reports of any drivers being cited or arrested ... But we have deputies there to stop that behaviour if it happens again."
Speed is believed to have been a factor in the accident, although investigators are also probing the burnt-out wreckage for evidence of any mechanical problems.
At least one witness has suggested that 40-year-old Walker and Rodas may have been drag-style racing at the time, according to CNN, although others have discounted such accounts.
The first Fast and Furious movie appeared in 2001. The series, with its focus on fast cars, tough guys, sexy starlets and exotic locales, is one of Hollywood's most lucrative global franchises.
Before his Fast and Furious breakthrough Walker was in several 1980s TV shows. He became a teen heartthrob, appearing in such movies as Pleasantville (1988), She's All That and Varsity Blues (1999).
- Cover Media