Q: After being serviced, car ignited under passenger seat

asked by on July 22, 2016

During a tune up on my car, they did not replace the ignition coils as part of the original tuneup, but they did remove the valve covers and installed new gaskets. My car has 112,000 miles. After driving away, when only 5 blocks from the shop, many of the cylinders stopped working (4 or 5 ignition coils stopped working). The mechanics had not had time to troubleshoot that day and had sent me home. I feel that was why this problem occurred. While driving home on just a few cylinders, traveling about 10 miles at 50 mph, a fire started below the passenger compartment. A wonderful farmer with a fire extinguisher rescued me. I was told by a mechanic that the raw fuel that was sent out the exhaust and catalytic converter was so extremely hot that the insulation below the passenger compartment ignited. It is odd to me that this happened after the work had been done. It required eight new coils and two 02 sensors, plus a new shifter (the original one had also melted). Could the previous mechanic have caused the ignition coils to be affected and what is your assessment of this experience?

The scenario of raw fuel being dumped into the catalytic converter causing extreme heat to possibly ignite a fire is a plausible scenario. It is generally not good business to perform a tune-up and send a customer out in a vehicle that is misfiring after the tune-up was performed.

It is possible that the previous shop may be responsible for the event, however, this would require research and investigation on both the series of events, what the shop knew, and what your local legislation determines is responsibility of the fault. These items would be better answered by an attorney who is familiar with your local laws and who could conduct a formal investigation as to who is at fault.

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