ABC News Investigates BMWs Mysteriously Bursting into Flames (BMW Responds)

by Mark Jurista on May 10, 2017, 6:40 pm
BMW on Fire
(Credit: Bill Macko)

ABC News is running a story today in regards to their investigation of BMWs mysteriously bursting into flames. A few quote from the story reads:

Quote:
But in a joint-investigation with ABC News, 7 On Your Side Investigates has discovered dozens of cases of parked BMWs bursting into flames. Clues to the cause often go up in smoke, making the fires a growing mystery.
Quote:
We found dozens of reports of BMWs across several makes and models catching fire after being parked for hours, even days.

Just weeks ago, Sarah and Oscar Day's 2011 BMW, parked for eight hours, suddenly burst into flames in the driveway of their upstate New York home.

"I have no idea," Oscar Day said. "It started in the fuse box. That's where I'd seen it start. Other than that, I couldn't guess."

Along with ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross, we spent weeks looking into these mysterious BMW car fires. Through fire department data, owner reports and interviews, we've documented 42 cases nationwide of BMW fires involving various makes and models that were not subject to any open, prior fire-related recalls.

And in all 42 cases, the cars were parked.
BMW has come out with a statement in response to the investigate that reads:

Quote:
With approximately 4.9 million BMW vehicles on U.S. roads, fire incidents involving BMWs are very rare. BMW takes every incident very seriously and has a dedicated team prepared to work with BMW owners, insurance companies and authorities to investigate any vehicle fire incident that is brought to our attention.

We have investigated and in some cases inspected the vehicle identified by ABC News. These vehicles span an age range of 1-15 years, accumulated mileage of up to 232,250 miles and multiple generations and model types. In cases that we have inspected and are able to determine root cause, we have not seen any pattern related to quality or component failure. Vehicle fires can result from a wide variety of external reasons unrelated to product defect. In addition, ABC News indicated that they had some examples in other countries, but we are unable to comment on any incidents outside of the US.
You can read the whole story at
http://abc7ny.com/automotive/exclusi...lames/1977009/

Do you know of anyone who has had this happen to them? Does it concern you or is it a non-story? Let us know what you think.



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16 responses to ABC News Investigates BMWs Mysteriously Bursting into Flames (BMW Responds)

Doug Huffman commented:
May 10, 2017, 6:49 pm

Non-story.

What are the numbers for all manufacturers in the US, what is the rate and what is the (standard) deviation? SD is how rates and averages are compared. >1 SD is very, greater than two standard deviations is "very very".
oldgeezer commented:
May 10, 2017, 8:00 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Huffman View Post
Non-story.

What are the numbers for all manufacturers in the US, what is the rate and what is the (standard) deviation? SD is how rates and averages are compared. >1 SD is very, greater than two standard deviations is "very very".
I agree.

One need only to google "car fire images" to see examples of every make and model.

Considering how many there are on the road I think the actual numbers of car fires in general are quite small.

They do make for dramatic news video. Especially the ones with magnesium in them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1hhgTbtsCs
Mac Hadley commented:
May 15, 2017, 6:29 am

There was a house fire in my neighborhood. A woman drove her BMW into the garage, and it caught fire shortly after being parked.
Autoputzer commented:
May 15, 2017, 6:00 pm

Frau Putzer's tree-hugging, Prius-driving, Tesla-waiting-list place holding sister sent this story to her to talk her out of a 2018 X3. Frau Putzer did some Goggling. There are about 250 million cars on the road in the U.S. About 17 per day catch on fire. So, by going back long enough, you can find an number of flaming BMW's you want to. Frau Putzer sent her links to a bunch of stories about Tesla's catching on fire.

Although, glowing hot turbochargers and high-pressure direction injection (2500 PSI) all crammed close to each other is a recipe for the occasional disaster, as is having the fuel delivery system on top of an air cooled VW engine and the exhaust system on the bottom, with a direct path for the gasoline through the cylinder cooling fins. My cousin's restored early-1970's VW went out in a blaze of glory... literally.
Jay Arras commented:
May 15, 2017, 6:19 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac Hadley View Post
There was a house fire in my neighborhood. A woman drove her BMW into the garage, and it caught fire shortly after being parked.
She drove her BMW into a garage of a house that had caught fire? That's my understanding of what you wrote.
Shon528 commented:
May 15, 2017, 7:47 pm

Non-story. The name "BMW" catches headlines. They mention 40-50 cases or so. There's almost 5 million BMW's out there. What's the percentage there? Your chances are extremely slim. The cars that caught fire spread across a wide range of model years and model vehicles, nothing consistent to point to. A friend sent this to me as well. I said good, then I get to order a new car! If it were in the garage at the time, well there's the Mrs. addition and new kitchen she wants. Can't find specifics right now but weren't there cases of GM vehicles catching fire due to the ignition switch? And the problem continuing even after many were fixed?
2015msport commented:
May 17, 2017, 10:48 am

How many of them had *********** or a kids hover board or a Samsung Note 7 or hot wires accessories?
Right its BMW's problem..
oldgeezer commented:
May 17, 2017, 12:07 pm

There are also set car fires.

Silvio "Birdie" Pinciaro's son told me how they used to set them on fire without leaving any trace behind. It's actually quite simple to do. They did it for people as a sideline business.

http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/...29/989/266346/
Rusty34 commented:
May 17, 2017, 12:20 pm

Big repair quote and out of warranty type fire?
oldgeezer commented:
May 17, 2017, 12:28 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty34 View Post
Big repair quote and out of warranty type fire?
Yes. Or the "new" wears off before the payments end.

You know all of them were not spontaneous.
rajens00 commented:
May 20, 2017, 6:00 pm

Remember when NBC rigged a truck to explode Early Fake News
oldgeezer commented:
May 20, 2017, 6:39 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajens00 View Post
Remember when NBC rigged a truck to explode Early Fake News

I think the fact that the cars are catching fire is legit. These days news is profit driven so whatever gets the catatonic masses to watch the commercials is all that matters. Whether it be Kim Kardashian's breasts or BMW car fires.

jas1223 commented:
June 5, 2017, 6:35 pm

What about reports that insurance investigators found the cause to be water getting into electrical housing and causing failure and then fire?


I love my X3 and was not worried at all until last night when my parking sensor started randomly alarming without the ability to turn it off, i.e., the alarm did not stop by turning off.
Additionally the car was out in the rain for almost 12 hours while at an event and would not normally be out in the rain that long (garage kept ). I was just told by a dealer to try and recreate the problem by taking it to a car wash or to spray with water for a significant amount of time...

So I wasn't worried, but now am.
Doug Huffman commented:
June 5, 2017, 6:59 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by jas1223 View Post
What about reports that insurance investigators found the cause to be water getting into electrical housing and causing failure and then fire?


I love my X3 and was not worried at all until last night when my parking sensor started randomly alarming without the ability to turn it off, i.e., the alarm did not stop by turning off.
Additionally the car was out in the rain for almost 12 hours while at an event and would not normally be out in the rain that long (garage kept ). I was just told by a dealer to try and recreate the problem by taking it to a car wash or to spray with water for a significant amount of time...

So I wasn't worried, but now am.
PDC technical documentation addresses water in the sensors. I knock the ice off mine and wipe away the melt water.

They're just ultrasonic speaker/microphones.

Water cannot conduct sufficient current to cause a fire. Power, Watts= E^2/R. Fuses prevent failures drawing sufficient power to cause a fire.
jas1223 commented:
June 6, 2017, 12:15 pm

If it is this simple then why 2 different BMW service managers have no insight? And no feedback from the service mechanic?

Is this still true if the sensor is in the OFF position?* It would not turn off even when the switch was off.* It was random and stopped and started about 15 times on a 30 minute drive and about 10 times on a 20 minute drive.*
THANK YOU big for your reply.* I know there is a huge wealth of information on this site and I'm thankful it exists for us BMW neophytes to learn from you all. Maybe it is believed my question is silly, but it wasn't silly driving down the road with the car alarming loudly with kids in the car and no way to make it stop.* So huge thank you for response.
My family appreciates it very much!
imtjm commented:
June 7, 2017, 11:09 am

Quote:
Originally Posted by jas1223 View Post
If it is this simple then why 2 different BMW service managers have no insight? And no feedback from the service mechanic?

Is this still true if the sensor is in the OFF position?* It would not turn off even when the switch was off.* It was random and stopped and started about 15 times on a 30 minute drive and about 10 times on a 20 minute drive.*
THANK YOU big for your reply.* I know there is a huge wealth of information on this site and I'm thankful it exists for us BMW neophytes to learn from you all. Maybe it is believed my question is silly, but it wasn't silly driving down the road with the car alarming loudly with kids in the car and no way to make it stop.* So huge thank you for response.
My family appreciates it very much!
If the BMW dealership cannot replicate the problem, the car doesn't exhibit the symptoms when at the service center, or the issue doesn't leave error codes behind, there is no issue to resolve. I've had gremlin issues which only happen once, and of course go away when brought to the service center, and never come back again.

It's possible sensor(s) were dirty or ingress with water, and then got cleaned off and/or dried out by the time you went to the dealership, but didn't trigger a fault code. So, yes, if you are concerned about water ingress into the sensor, then take a hose and point directly at the sensor(s) to see if you can replicate the problem. If you can't, the sensor(s) may just have been dirty.

I dislike mysterious "report" like the report about purported insurance investigation claiming the cause of the vehicle fire was water ingress into electrical housing and causing the fire. It is bad information and reveals absolutely nothing and could simply be wrong.

You are also talking about two completely different things here: your issue of the parking sensor and possible water ingress into the sensor, vs the car fire with water ingress into the fuse electrical housing area. Even if water ingress into the parking sensor shorted the fuse, I would say that it would be one in infinite chance that that itself would cause a fire. The shorted parking sensor at most would blow the fuse, which is spec'd to blow before frying or melting your entire fuse box. That is different that water getting into your main fuse box area and shorting out multiple things and continuing to conduct electricity, etc.