My 325i Meltdown

Saturday, March 13, 2010 was the day that changed my life.  If you depend on your car to get to work, take a child to daycare, buy groceries for your family, or run essential errands you will understand how devastating it is to suddenly lose your car.  I know that car crashes happen everyday, and I am thankful that I was not involved in a crash–but the result was the same.  I was left without a car.

It was a normal Saturday afternoon, except for the ominous cloudy gray sky.  Despite the weather, people still wanted to see apartments.  Our office was busy.  During the workday, I drove over to one of our sister properties at least 3 times.  At the close of business, I closed the office and went home.  My husband and I planned to go to the movies–it was date night.

When I walked in the door, my mother-in-law was already cuddling with her grandson.  He was squirming, no doubt from the hunger pangs.  Before leaving for the movies, I thought I would quickly prepare some baby food for him.  While I was in the kitchen, there was a knock on the door.

The voice from the other side of the partially cracked door asked, “do you own the black BMW outside?”

I thought, “yes, why?”  My husband was already putting on his shoes when I realized that our neighbor answered, “I think your car is on fire.”

The rest of the evening is a blur.  I remember Tony forcing the driver’s side car door open.  I remember seeing smoke billow out of the car.  I remember the sinking feeling in my stomach when I saw the flames reaching out from under the glove compartment.  I remember Tony yelling, “get me the fire extinguisher.”  I thought, “wow, do I have to break the glass?  I’ve never needed to access a fire extinguisher! Will sirens go off?”  It felt like it took forever for the fire department to arrive; my mother-in-law called 911.  In retrospect, it must have taken at least 5 minutes for Engine #14 to arrive.  Tony had already put the fire out.

I remember thinking, “I bet my car is totaled.  What in the world am I going to do?  I can’t afford another car right now.  My car is almost paid off.  DAMMIT!!!!

2 responses

1 04 2012
Vernes Pengic

On 03/20/2012 i was at sleep when my brother wake me up screaming ur car is on fire .. This was crazy experience i tought i was dreaming the entire thing .. My 2001 BMW 325i cought fire on its own hard to bealive it but its TRUE it sure did under dash on passinger side while being parked in front of house .. BMW refuse to addmit this was factory issue .. I really love my car but this could kill me if i was in the car or anyone of my family including my 2 kids ..

11 05 2017
Olaf A Johnson

May 11th, 2017 4pm
I own a 2011 335i xDrive Sedan (50,000 miles) so I became deeply concerned when I saw on ABC news this morning May, 11th 2017 that parked BMW vehicles were spontaneously bursting into flames. The scary thing was these were BMW vehicles that were parked with the engines turned off and cold. Some cars where parked from minutes to as long as days before they burst into flames.

This phenomena is becoming more and more prevalent not just across the USA but the news showed video clips of BMW cars in China, India, Europe, Canada, South America, etc… with the same explosive issue. There is no consistency between cars since the burnt BMWs were from all years and all model ranges from 2000 to present. It certainly didn’t matter if your BMW was a 2003 330i with 200,000 miles or a 2017 M235i with 10 miles. For a lot of the cars it seems the source of spontaneous combustion is around passenger side wiper blades where the hood opens/passenger side wheel housing/passenger side glove box area.

This area is the location junction for the most important battery wiring, where the car power cables meet the fuse/relay panels on 99% of all BMW from 2000 to present. Also present in that area, especially on the 6 cylinder engines, are coolant hoses, the lower end of a sloping oil gasket-that often leaks, and washer fluid tank and hose. All of which are highly flammable fluids when ignited, On top of that, myself being the owner of three BMW Inline 6 sedans since 2004, BMW’s engine bay is designed to collect dry leaves and twigs in a catch pan right at the passenger side wiper arm under the hood. All of these are a recipe for your car bursting into flames. I believe the battery connection involved with the fuse/relay panel to be at fault.

Now recently I have noticed a Battery Discharge Error that comes on after my car has been parked for long stretches. The Error usually goes away after a few minutes of driving. The BMW Of Westchester (NY) Dealership ran a test and found nothing wrong with the battery and that the battery had excellent health. Days after the dealership I still get the error messages. Now when I park I turn off all accessories (radio, AC, light switch) but I notice that the amber led for the P on the transmission and the START ENGINE button stay lit for hours after parking my car. I don’t ever recalling seeing that and it worries me that electricity is still coursing through the car long after the engine is off.
I will check back if my car burst into flames but I thought I would share my 2 cents,

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