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Thread: DeLorean Car Fires ...Numbers, Causes and Fixes

  1. #1
    Senior Member nkemp's Avatar
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    DeLorean Car Fires ...Numbers, Causes and Fixes

    It seems that there is a disproportionate number of DeLoreans that have caught fire. Think about it, how many other cars can you name that have had fires or how often have you seen car fires on the side of the road? It is pretty rare. But that is not the reason for this topic so don't provide answers to those rhetorical questions.

    This topic, or its potential spinoffs are meant to determine:
    • How many DeLorean car fires have happened (we need accounts and they need to identify if it is first hand info or second, third, fourth, etc)
    • What was the reason (as best can be determined):
      • Fuel
        • Engine compartment line ruptures
        • Fitting failures/leaks
        • Other

      • Electrical
        • Relay module failures
        • Wiring failures
        • Fuse block failures
        • Other

      • Probable user error ... a problem caused by the user/service person. These are problems worth noting but not inherently related to the car & its parts
      • Other TBD

    • Fixes... here we can identify the changes/upgrades/maintenance items that might reduce the probability of fires.


    By tracking and highlighting problems, we can focus on prevention. If this was Detroit, they may be issuing recalls or TSB's. But, for all practical purposes, we are "Detroit" so this forum may be the best way to track problems and raise awareness.

    Moderators - If this topic gets traction or is deemed worthwhile, maybe this should be a section by itself and then run multiple threads for the topics mentioned above instead of lumping replies haphazardly in this one topic. Maybe the high level topic is "Catastrophic Failures" and can be expanded to other topics such as TAB failures, frame rust through, ball joints, suspension components, steering loss & other.
    Nick
    - No matter how many people believe in a dumb idea ... it is still a dumb idea!
    - Some cars look fast. Some cars look faster than time!
    - The question is not "where did the time go" but rather "where to go in time".

  2. #2
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    I like your thinking Nick.

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    I was thinking the same thing all day yesterday Nick. I had a couple of questions to get this started.

    Would it be advantageous at all to install any sort of fuel shutoffs or some sort of fuel pressure relief inside the cabin? It sounds like from several stories there was smoke before fire, maybe dumping the fuel out of the engine compartment immediately would prevent a larger fire?

    Has anyone looked into installing an automatic fire extinguishing device like this?
    http://www.jamestowndistributors.com...ct_ad&type=pla

    Do SS fuel lines greatly prevent the likelihood of this happening? (I didn't wait to find out, I ordered a set this weekend!)

    Chuck
    Last edited by virtualchuck; 09-24-2013 at 09:09 AM.

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    I like what you're trying to do with this Nick. Similar thoughts have crossed my mind with TABs, LCAs, drivers torsion bars, etc.

    I know you mentioned not answering the rhetorical questions... but I would like to add that the reason we often only see certain examples of things out there is that many of them don't get reported or pinned to Jalopnik. We don't often hear a detailed account of all the drives people take where their car didn't start on fire, and we don't often hear about a minivan or Honda Civic on fire on the side of the road either. These things do happen, but we can get fooled into thinking the frequency of such things is more or less than it actually is.

    Not saying trying to track this isn't worthwhile, but until it is put beside comparable and complete data for other or all vehicles, it might not be that relevant.

    There are a number of these sorts of cognitive bias subjects discussed in a new book called The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli. Check it out if you have the means.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Thinking-C.../dp/0062219685


    Sept. 81, auto, black interior

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    I like what you're trying to do with this Nick. Similar thoughts have crossed my mind with TABs, LCAs, drivers torsion bars, etc.

    I know you mentioned not answering the rhetorical questions... but I would like to add that the reason we often only see certain examples of things out there is that many of them don't get reported or pinned to Jalopnik. We don't often hear a detailed account of all the drives people take where their car didn't start on fire, and we don't often hear about a minivan or Honda Civic on fire on the side of the road either. These things do happen, but we can get fooled into thinking the frequency of such things is more or less than it actually is.

    Not saying trying to track this isn't worthwhile, but until it is put beside comparable and complete data for other or all vehicles, it might not be that relevant.

    There are a number of these sorts of cognitive bias subjects discussed in a new book called The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli. Check it out if you have the means.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Thinking-C.../dp/0062219685
    The fires boil down to one simple thing, a lack of routine maintenance. If you keep up with the car and do all of the updates the chances of catastrophic failure are very low. This covers the LCA's, TAB's, fires, cooling system failure, etc. Fires are either caused by fuel or electrical. There can be NO fuel leaks. Update the electrical system and inspect it at least yearly. If you do, the fire extinguisher is there as a last resort or for someone else's fire!
    David Teitelbaum

  6. #6
    Senior Member nkemp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    ...but until it is put beside comparable and complete data for other or all vehicles, it might not be that relevant...
    If 3 2001 - 2003 Corstangs or Musvettes start on fire, it may not be significant given the numbers on the road. But if there are 3 DMC-12 fires amongst the estimated 2,500 running, 6,500 in existence (both estimates) I would argue that it is significant/relevant. Also, as our labors of love age characteristics may develop that we need to track and manage. As such I look at how the numbers play out amongst DMC-12's and not against similar era cars.

    The fun part of statistics is that even though you may have only a .000001% chance of xxx it is a big deal to the person it happens to. As such, some of us may want to take the preventative approach (like the recent Toby TAB's sold on eBay for over $700 ... He wanted the comfort of knowing that his TAB bolts were as good as can be).

    BTW .. I'm a firm believer that if you put enough monkeys on enough keyboards one will accidentally type "Hamlet" (or more to the theme herein, a "DeLorean Service Manual")
    Nick
    - No matter how many people believe in a dumb idea ... it is still a dumb idea!
    - Some cars look fast. Some cars look faster than time!
    - The question is not "where did the time go" but rather "where to go in time".

  7. #7
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    So let's break this down a bit. One of the key things to remember is we still don't know what the source of the fire on Darryl's car even was yet.

    Fuel system: obviously the greatest source will be 32 year old fuel lines - whether it be the integrity of the fuel lines or the ends where the fittings and banjo bolts connect. Also important is making sure the fuel lines are torqued to proper spec. Honestly, 32 year old fuel lines is an accident waiting to happen. Also important are the insert adapters that connect the metal fuel lines from underneath the car to the flexible fuel lines in the engine bay. Lastly, all copper washers should be replaced if the fuel lines are taken off the car (say for a VOD cleaning). I'm sure there are other causes for concern with the fuel system - these are just my thoughts.

    As for electrical, the biggies are changing the fuses once a year and making sure your relays are new(er) as well as your circuit breakers. Definitely good to do anything you can to reduce the load on the electrical system (low amperage fans, install LEDs in place of incads, change to a newer fuel pump to reduce the current draw on it, etc), and check things periodically. Every once in a while, I have my car running and check the power wires in the electrical compartment - see if they are "warm" or are they "hot to the touch." Anywhere there's a loose connection or heavy resistance, there can/will be heat.

    I'm sure more will chime in with greater details as time goes along.
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    Me: Eddie, I can't wait to get the car back when you're done with it.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Dangermouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nkemp View Post
    If 3 2001 - 2003 Corstangs or Musvettes start on fire, it may not be significant given the numbers on the road. But if there are 3 DMC-12 fires amongst the estimated 2,500 running, 6,500 in existence (both estimates) I would argue that it is significant/relevant.
    )
    If you look at recent internet reports, modern day Ferraris are almost expected to self immolate
    Dermot
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  9. #9
    Senior Member nkemp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David T View Post
    The fires boil down to one simple thing, a lack of routine maintenance. If you keep up with the car and do all of the updates the chances of catastrophic failure are very low. This covers the LCA's, TAB's, fires, cooling system failure, etc. Fires are either caused by fuel or electrical. There can be NO fuel leaks. Update the electrical system and inspect it at least yearly. If you do, the fire extinguisher is there as a last resort or for someone else's fire!
    David, I agree wholeheartedly. What I think we can do herein is to create a resource that includes what, where and what to look for while doing the inspection/maintenance. For many that resource may not be valuable because of their car maintenance skills. But I believe that for most there would be benefit to identifying the problem areas and detailing an inspection & maintenance process highly focused on catastrophic failure items.

    For example, if we found that a certain component fails due to heat fatigue and when it does it causes fires, then documenting that, documenting what to look for, having a maintenance alternative and maybe having a maintenance schedule is beneficial to owners at all maintenance skills (those that have one tool, the credit card to those who do their own wrenching).

    As I said in the opening post "It seems that there is a disproportionate number of DeLoreans that have caught fire." And that is fixable.
    Nick
    - No matter how many people believe in a dumb idea ... it is still a dumb idea!
    - Some cars look fast. Some cars look faster than time!
    - The question is not "where did the time go" but rather "where to go in time".

  10. #10
    Senior Member Dangermouse's Avatar
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    OK, here’s the ones I know about.

    Only a few have causes, but maybe others can chime in with any known details.

    02613 – Farrar’s car. 2008 – electrical fire, repaired

    04117 – Kozmatics car in 2009 – electrical fire. Insurance write-off and then rebuilt



    04510 – on copart.com last year – cause unknown



    05538 - Knoxville TN - cause unknown



    05898 – Darryl’s car in 2013 – cause as yet unknown

    07018 – cause unknown – later scrapped

    10458 – cause unknown. Exported to England and rebuilt



    11289 – Josh H car. Cause unknown


    Also

    01909 was destroyed by fire on that car transporter fire in 2011.
    07134 was destroyed by wildfires in TX in 2011.

    Both included for completeness in the “DeLorean fire” category, but hardly relevant to the discussion
    Attached Images
    Dermot
    VIN 2743, B/A, Frame 2227, engine 2320

    I don't always drive cars, but when I do, I prefer DeLoreans

    http://www.will-to-live.org

    No-one is to stone anyone, even, and I want to make this absolutely clear, even if they do say "carburetor"

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