('09-'13) Engine fire--2010 Forester XT - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Engine fire--2010 Forester XT

I am looking for someone to shed some light on a traumatizing situation. My family is still shaken up from what happened in our driveway a few nights ago.


After work, I got in my car and started it up. Check engine light came on, followed by traction control and tire pressure lights. Even though this was odd because these lights had never been on before, I started to drive home--it was too late to bring the car to have it checked out. I live a minute and a half from work. The cruise control light then came on and flickered in no particular pattern. Then, about 45 seconds into my 90 second drive, the temperature gauge light came on. The weather was about 50 degrees and rainy.

When I got home the fan was spinning really fast. I popped the hood. No smoke or anything visibly wrong. At roughly 2:10am there was no way I could bring it to get the Check Engine light looked into. So I left the hood open to let some heat out and when the fan slowed and then stopped, I closed the hood and went inside.

About 10-15 minutes later I heard a pop sound. It was strange and I got up to check it out. It was a massive engine fire. It toasted the engine and melted a good portion of the front end. The Fire Dept shattered the windows and peeled the hood back. The car is totaled.

The fire was just feet away from my house on one side, and the neighbor on the other side. It was one of the scariest things I've ever experienced.

There are no recalls on this car that indicate this type of issue. There is a video on youtube with something similar (search Subaru engine fire).

The car is a 2010 Forester XT, completely stock. It has been very well maintained and has about 85,000 miles on it. My mother originally owned it. She bought it brand new from the Subaru dealership and I bought it from her.

Does anyone have some insight on this situation?

Thank you and be careful that you don't end up in this situation.

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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 08:12 PM
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Did you notice any gasoline smell when you opened the hood to cool things off? The pop you heard might have been something literally exploding from the fire, rather than being the cause of it.

I've heard of cars catching on fire but never after they'd sat for a while. I can easily see how it's a very upsetting situation though, both from the loss of the car and what could have happened since it was so close to your house. Thank goodness for the fire department. Perhaps the fire inspector can shed some light on what happened.

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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 09:18 PM
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my head gasket was leaking oil right onto my exhaust before i tore my engine down. perhaps thats what happened to you, the temp going up can be indicative of a bad head gasket leak. maybe its a long shot. glad no one was hurt.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 10:27 PM
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The insurance company should find out what the cause was...and Subaru will be notified.

'06 For X Prem, '10 For X Prem + WP, both 4EAT
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-05-2015, 10:42 PM
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Warning lights on first sure smells like an electrical fault.

I can't find the bulletin now, but I'm pretty sure some markets had a recall some time in 2009-2010 for an engine harness inspection. Might be worth asking about.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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I'm curious to read what some of you think can come of this. I've had some correspondence with Subaru and I'd like to think that they will step up and do the right thing--replace the car.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 06:02 AM
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First, go to this link
https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/VehicleComplaint/
and file a report with NHTSA. NHTSA will look into the report and see if yours is an isolated event or if there is a pattern. Sending a report to NHTSA is the first step in a potential recall investigation. Remember, your report may help to save somebody's life in the future.

Second, make a claim with your insurance company. Your insurance company will likely ask your local fire department for a report to make sure that this wasn't a deliberate arson case.

Third, if not already done, make sure that the fire department and/or insurance agent inspects the car and documents the findings BEFORE Subaru gets their hands on the vehicle. Why? Because you want an impartial report. Car manufacturers don't like this type of cases and you can bet that Subaru will apply a "CYA" strategy. They will blame you, the weather and the full moon before admitting that this was a vehicle fault. So make sure that the insurance and fire department can make the inspection BEFORE Subaru tampers with the evidence.

Fourth, ask your local fire department for a report, regardless of the insurance report. You never know, it may be useful in the future, especially if your run into some issues with the insurance company (unlikely, but you never know).

Fifth, report the problem to Subaru. They will ask you to bring the vehicle to a dealer for inspection. They will probably send somebody from their tech center or plant to have a close look. By all means, take the car to the Subaru dealer, but not before the insurance and/or fire marshal inspect the vehicle. Once the car is in Subaru's hands it will be very difficult to find what really started the fire.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by jd5016 View Post
Engine...
Is that the original battery? Is the battery case intact with fluid in all the cells? If it is intact, what is the voltage? Is there any sign of chafe where the battery cables cross each other?

My hunch is the battery had something to do with the fire.


I still miss my BugEye WRX Wagon

Last edited by sinbad; 10-06-2015 at 06:18 AM.
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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sinbad View Post
Is that the original battery? Is the battery case intact with fluid in all the cells? If it is intact, what is the voltage? Is there any sign of chafe where the battery cables cross each other?

My hunch is the battery had something to do with the fire.
I'm not certain. I just bought the car 2 and a half months ago. I can't inspect it now, it was already towed away.

That being said, would the dashboard lights be lighting up as a result of a battery issue?
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 08:50 AM
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Since it is not completely clear in the original post, was the engine still running when the fire started?

The car is 6 years old... IMO there is no way to prove this is Subaru's fault. There has been a lot of maintenance done to the vehicle in 6 years and if something was done wrong (or not done at all out of neglect) it could have led to this.

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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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Engine had been off for at least 10 minutes before the fire started.
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 10:30 AM
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With several of the indicator lights going on and off,to me it sounds like an electrical short or fire. Years ago I knew of a mid 70's
large Pontiac station wagon that had a massive electrical short while the car was being driven. The Driver did make it out ok ,but the interior and the under the dash area were completed ablaze. No this is not exactly what happened to your Suby,but without further analysis I bet its an electrical short. If it were a gasoline fire I believe it would have been much worse. ed
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2015, 11:08 AM
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The car is 6 years old... IMO there is no way to prove this is Subaru's fault.
This basically, accidents do happen, hug your kids, and glad no one was hurt. Insurance will take care of your car- that's what it's for.

Could've been electrical, fuel, mouse nest, overheat, etc, etc, etc.. You will never know exactly what caused it.. move on, find a new car.

mike


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