Two Year Old SUV Caught Fire While Driving, Dealership Refusing to Cover under Warranty/Consumer Guarantee

Apologies in advance for the wall of text, this is the first time I've sought help online as we're being given the run around.

TLDR Situation:
2.5yr old car, well looked after and regularly serviced, spontaneously caught fire while driving on freeway. Car dealership not honouring any warranty/guarantee. What are my rights? Do I have to prove there was a fault in the car or is the fact it caught fire enough?

In detail:
My partner's car, a 2.5yr old SUV worth ~$40k (bought new from dealer) caught fire while she was driving. We were moving house, I was in a car about 40 minutes behind her, and she had driven around 700km (with breaks every couple of hours) before the car started making a funny sound while travelling on the freeway. She called me for advice and after speaking for about 10 seconds, she noticed smoke coming from the car. I told her to pull over and call 000 - which she did. While pulling over, a warning message came up stating the car was overheating. After pulling over, the fire was put out by the fire brigade.

The fire was under the bonnet of the car and we have photos to show the underside plastic melted, but are otherwise unsure of the extent of the damage, as we are not proficient in cars and didn't get to look closely before it was towed. It has been suggested to us by multiple people that have seen the car, that it was oil that caught fire.

The car was towed initially to a crash repairer, and assessed for a couple of days. They were not able to fully assess the car there.
We contacted the dealer where the car was bought (Dealer A) and were told to contact the manufacturer directly (Parent Company). Parent Company called us back and asked to move the car to the local dealer of that car brand (Dealer B). The car has been at that dealer for over 3 weeks under the pretense that it will be assessed for a warranty/consumer guarantee claim.
We have recently been told by Dealer B that they will not investigate any further because they believe they have found the cause of the fire - the radiator cap was found to be off when the car was towed to them. They could not find any damage to the cap on inspection. They state they have assessed the car for 2 hours and will not assess it any further because they are satisfied that this is the cause of the fire. If we want them to assess further it will cost us $140/hr to hire them to do so. They say this is not their fault and not a warranty claim.

We dispute their explanation on a number of fronts:
No-one has touched the radiator cap other than the servicer (Dealer A) before the fire, in which case it would be their fault and should be covered by them.
We deduced that it is more plausible that the cap was removed by the fire brigade after the fire was put out.
Presuming the cap was removed, it seems implausible to me that the car could drive 700km on a hot day (was 45 degrees at times that day) without issue and then suddenly and unexpectedly fail.
Suppose, then, that the cap was instead removed sometime during the trip - which is also implausible because the radiator would have been hot, and my partner simply did not remove the cap nor did anyone else (why would she???). How long could a car drive without the cap on?
Lastly, the warning lights never came on before the issue started and one would expect the car to say it is running low on coolant and/or overheating before such a critical failure.

We have had a lot of back and forth between Dealer B and us. We actually got my uncle to 'represent' us because he is a lawyer and knows cars, and was eager to help. But unfortunately this has become too much work for him to do and now it's back on us to sort it out.

We've tried to get the car assessed but there's no-one privately that can do it and everyone has suggested going through our insurer.
For the record, the car IS insured but we have concerns that it will be a write-off and market value is less than what we would need to replace it (a possible loss of $8k-10k). This would also cost us the excess, any other insurance costs (eg the premiums for the rest of the insurance year) and increased premiums/loss of no-claim-bonus.

My partner had planned to look for work at our new home but has been out of work because we now only have 1 car and this whole fiasco has taken a lot of her time. We have arranged to meet with Dealer B in a few days and I want to be prepared.

My questions are:
What are our rights here?
Do I have to prove the cause of the fire is a faulty car or is the burden of proof on the car company/dealer?
Furthermore, is their explanation enough when it seems so easy to dispute/implausible?
Do we have the right to insist they complete the assessment of the vehicle?
What would be considered a reasonable time-frame for the dispute to be resolved? They have had the car for 3+ weeks and we seem to have gotten nowhere.

What should we do next?
Options:
1) Cut our losses and get insurance to pay out.
2) Stick to our guns
2a) Call ACCC
2b) Get a local lawyer and go to town
2c) Keep going ourselves
3) Bikies?

to make matters worse..
One of the first passers-by that stopped, while the car was on fire, stole my partner's wallet, handbag and a bag of valuables (that we ironically had decided to transport ourselves because we thought it safer than with the removalists…). He also spent up big on her credit/debit cards.
So this fire cost us a hell of a lot more than just the car!!

I am grateful for any help or advice anyone can provide. Thanks for reading this far!

UPDATE
Thanks everyone for your input! I've been very busy in the last few days with work and haven't had a chance to reply to everyone as I'd like.

The update is as follows:
- It's NOT a jeep, nor a tuscon.
- I'm not going to name the make because if the cause of the fire is something like rodent wire damage etc I do not want to tarnish the name of the company.
- I have spoken again with the dealer and they have agreed to examine the car properly. This is after learning a few more facts.
- The fire burnt through the bottom tray of the engine. And the radiator cap was found down there too. But it was not damaged, not by fire or by impact into the bottom of the bonnet.
- The damage is estimated at $20k.
- The fire was engine oil. There is evidence of burnt oil but not sure where it has come from.
- There was coolant was splashed all over the engine. It looks like it either exploded or boiled over but can't say which at this stage.
- The onboard computer logged only 2 errors - one was the overheating error that came up after the smoke appeared (as mentioned above). And an immobilisation/theft warning (that was presumably triggered by the tow truck or something).
- Unfortunately, these errors are not time-stamped but it does prove there was no other warning that came up before the fire, and there was no low coolant or overheating until some sort of catastrophic failure.
- So far, there is still no cause of the fire. No cause of the coolant cap coming off.

UPDATE 2
Added photo of underside of engine bay
https://ibb.co/dk8RP8t

Comments

  • +63

    Insurance

    • ^This.

      "We have recently been told by Dealer B that they will not investigate any further because they believe they have found the cause of the fire - the radiator cap was found to be off when the car was towed to them. They could not find any damage to the cap on inspection. They state they have assessed the car for 2 hours and will not assess it any further because they are satisfied that this is the cause of the fire. If we want them to assess further it will cost us $140/hr to hire them to do so. They say this is not their fault and not a warranty claim."

      If the radiator cap was off, how is it even there? I don't believe radiator caps are tethered normally. Sounds like cap was loose, then probably dislodged during your long trip. I don't believe they will cover given that it's going to be he say she say, so best to just go the insurance way.

      Sounds like your car lost all the coolant and the engine overheated - your car is gone bro. Normally the engine will come up with a warning light if the engine goes over temp, I'm guessing she didn't notice that, or the temp gauge is broken, or it overheated, and by the time she noticed, the heat had already destroyed the temp gauge.

      • If we want them to assess further it will cost us $140/hr to hire them to do so.

        The dealer looks predatory and absolutely unhelpful. It does not cost the mechanics "$140/hr" to take a look.

        • +9

          Actually it does, that's standard diagnosis rates for a dealership

          • -7

            @spackbace: If I saw a customer walk into a business super distressed with their purchase, I'd expect some sort of sympathy/considerations from the business owner. It's called goodwill.

            They state they have assessed the car for 2 hours and will not assess it any further because they are satisfied that this is the cause of the fire. If we want them to assess further it will cost us $140/hr to hire them to do so.

            That doesn't look like goodwill. Looks predatory.

            Also, why is a mechanics' time worth $140/hr? It doesn't make sense. They don't need any degrees or high-level training. Also, some of them can be very lazy. I'd be very hesitant to pay $140/hr for mechanics labour.

            • +6

              @BrutallyHonest: The mechanic isn't getting $140/hr, but the dealership has running costs as well as wants to make a profit.

              Simple business practices I thought.

              Why would the dealership need to operate longer out of goodwill? Maybe if they were the reason the fire was started, but in their eyes they aren't. They also aren't forensic scientists etc, their knowledge will only get them so far.

              Given some people have suggested operator error, why does the dealership need to pour more time into the diagnosis? That's what the insurance company is paid to do… and guess what, there's a charge involved in the process, it's just covered by the premiums they charge OP, you, me, everyone.

        • +5

          Have you ever engaged a plumber? It's like $120-180 to arrive and covers like the first 15-30mins.

          • +2

            @Gallifr3y: probably not - I bet he's one of those "DIY" guys who does everything himself without needing to call in a specialist, to save some money …

          • -2

            @Gallifr3y: I got the slap down here that there is no way tradies are making $100k a year.

        • And all the tools, machines, manuals and access to worldwide database on the vehicle. $140/hour is pretty good value.

          • @quog: $140/hour is standard or slightly high.
            $80-100 would be good value.

      • +11

        This is hilarious, back in the late 90s ford Australia figured out a system to run their falcons with no coolant at all for emergencies like this. 40kmh top speed and it would only allow a few minutes of driving at a time. It would also deactivate fuel supply to 3-4 cylinders at a time to reduce heat generation etc. This was a great limp home mode life saver for your average commuter. It basically made it impossible to overheat your engine.

        All falcons up until they stopped making them had this feature.

        • I think most modern cars have something similar.

          • @snooksy: They cheap out and just put Christmas lights on the dash. It's costly to make a good ecu design/programming.

      • +3

        A car would not catch fire from losing coolant, the engine would seize up, but not catch fire.

      • Where did the fire start? If the engine overheated, wouldn't the engine stop to prevent further damage?

        • -5

          No. Engine will keep on running until there's enough expansion of the metal until the pistons seize.

          Only take a certain amount of heat before any oil or debris around the engine bay catches on fire.

          • +1

            @Gallifr3y: How much oil and debris are you expecting on a dealer serviced car thats 2.5 years old?

            • @LlamaOfDoom: \OP said the gasket was off, assuming the radiator lost all it's fluid or a lot of it, this caused the engine to overheat and catch fire.

              The amount of time when they service cars and leave a shitload of engine oil around the engine bay you'd be surpriced. At 2.5 years that 4-5 services.

              OP might live near gumtrees, leaves get into the engine bay all the itme.

  • +63

    Contact your insurance company, they might fight the dealer for you if it means they don't have to pay you out. also they might cover the theft as well

    • +1

      This is probably the most 'safe' plan. Thanks for your advice!

  • +20

    What car is it? Name and shame.

    Ultimately, this is an insurance problem. If you are paid out market value, then you have to accept that (after all you chose market value when signing up for the insurance, not agreed value). Also, a 2.5 year old car is not a new car, so it's completely fair that the payout is less than what you paid for that car new.

    There's absolutely no chance that either the dealer or manufacturer will voluntarily take responsibility for this. You would have to prove that there is some sort of manufacturing defect which led to this fault 2.5 years after purchasing the car, which I think would be tough. It might be worth looking around on forums to see if anyone else has had their same model car catch on fire as well. After all, this is not something that's uncommon (remember the Holden Cruze that caught on fire?). This is probably your best bet in terms of actually getting the manufacturer to pay up.

    You could go see a lawyer, but why? You're just going to sink plenty of money into legal costs, time into taking it to court, you might even lose and have to pay out their legal costs as well. What do you get for this at the end of the day?

    If I were you, I'd just take the insurance payout and go buy a different car and enjoy.

    For the record, the car IS insured but we have concerns that it will be a write-off and market value is less than what we would need to replace it (a possible loss of $8k-10k).

    Wait, so a car blows up on you and you want to go back and get the same car? What…?

      • +46

        A couple of things - it's not $8-10k below what we paid, it's up to $20k below what we paid. Possibly due to second-hand cars going up in price. We're not trying to get paid out the amount we paid, but rather what it would cost to buy that same car at market and unfortunately the "market value" for this car is a lot less than what you find on carsales etc, a LOT less.

        That's something for you to take up with the insurance company if you don't agree with their market value.

        Second, I didn't mean to imply it was a new car (did I?) only that it was bought from new (ie 1 owner).

        I read it as you bought a new car (my bad if that's not what you intended).

        We're not going to name and shame. Defamation is not what we're interested in, just a fair solution.

        So you're happy to seek others' opinion/time/help, but are not wanting to name the car so that others who have that car are aware that it could blow up after driving 700km? Given how dangerous that is, I'd be yelling the make/model from the rooftops to make sure everyone knows…?

        • +41

          My partner's car, a 2.5yr old SUV worth ~$40k (bought new from dealer)

          OP did say new from the dealer. This doesn't read like it was used.

          • +4

            @whooah1979: I think OP just sucks at communicating.
            His partner is the 1 owner, and was bought new/demo from the dealer initially. However, since the car is 2.5 years old at this moment it is not "new" per se.

        • +40

          I, too, stopped reading when I found the OP doesn't even want to tell people the make/model of the car. It has nothing to do with name and shame but if they are seeking advice from the public, the public should have been given some basic facts, shouldn't they?

          • +52

            @marsking: I bet its a jeep. Id be ashamed to tell anyone i bought one

        • +1

          This is why you can insure your vehicle for an agreed value, most people are aware that market value generally understates the true value of the car, hence you will pay a lower premium with market value applied.

  • +5

    None of the photos of the engine bay happened to also capture the radiator cap?

    Your options are go to insurance or solicitor. I don't know where the recent spate of "go to ACCC" has come from. They do not handle individual cases. By all means lodge a complaint with them on the off chance that this is a pattern with that car make/model but it's your state/territory dept of fair trading that you should be contacting to handle complaints like this but even then they can really only act as mediators.

    It's not a Jeep is it? I know they have a reputation for random fire and have also had some recalls the past couple of years for fire risk so worth checking if there was a recall.

    • -7

      I didn't know that about the ACCC and individual cases, and I highly doubt this could possibly be a pattern. Thanks for that info, and you're right about the "go to the ACCC" recommendations!

      I can neither confirm nor deny it's a Jeep.

      • +41

        If it was a Jeep, catching fire and getting paid out is a blessing in disguise.

        Don't replace it with another Jeep…

        • +10

          Yes Michael, I bought a Jeep. Doooon't hold baaaack…

        • out of your price range anyway

  • +1

    Your profile says Adelaide.

    Are you an RAA member?

    What does the RAA say?
    - RAA Inspection - https://www.raa.com.au/motor/motoring-services/vehicle-inspe...

    • RAA Technical Services
  • +2

    Presuming the cap was removed, it seems implausible to me that the car could drive 700km on a hot day (was 45 degrees at times that day) without issue and then suddenly and unexpectedly fail.

    The radiator is supposed to be a closed unit.

    You don't the coolant being at about 110 degrees for hours that it won't escape as steam?

    It has been suggested to us by multiple people that have seen the car, that it was oil that caught fire.

    Yes because the engine has been cooked due to loss of coolant.

    It's going to be hard to prove the dealers took off the cap.

    I am surprised that insurance would cover this at all.

    This is not a accident, and questionable whether its a failure of the vehicle.

    • +3

      Sorry if I wasn't clear - would a car that's cooking and having the coolant escape as steam raise some sort of alarm? Like low coolant and hot temperatures? The fact this didn't happen is a fault in itself is it not?

      • +3

        Normally one looks at the temperature, sees steam coming out of bonnet, sees smoke coming out.

        Did your wife look at the temp?

        I don't know your car nor what diagnostics are in place, did the dealer say there are self diagnostics?

        • The temperature sensor flashed a warning only after starting to pull over (and after the smoke started, therefore after the fire started). There was never any steam. We intend to try and get a copy of the diagnostics when we visit the dealer.

        • +5

          I don't know your car nor what diagnostics are in place

          I have never seen a car that did not have a high engine temperature indicator. If that indicator does not come on before a fire has started, it's useless!

          Over temperature will also be logged by the computer. OP may be able to plug in to the OBD port and read out when it was triggered?

          If the car had been flashing its temperature alarm for 2hrs then it's a driver fault. If, as per OP's story, the warning came on after the smoke, that's a serious design flaw.

          • +5

            @abb: Im some what inclined to say the vehicle was driving hot and was probably indicating hot oil temp for awhile and the driver was most likely too focused on driving/paying no attention to the dash board as it was on the freeway and probably on cruise control.

            • @Importmonster: Sorry it's taken so long to reply.
              We got the readout of the onboard comp, and there were no other overheating or low coolant warnings.

      • I can't imagine it not. My 6 year old car had a coolant issue that was related to a poor quality thermostat (according to the dealer's service dept) and it definitely let me know something was up.

        There is one thing I don't understand - if the cap was off, where did they find it?

    • +1

      Sorry mate, but why wouldn't insurance cover it? It's spontaneously overheated, the guy doesn't sound like anyone who takes their cap off or even knows what it does, and the car drove 700km that day, would have overheated well before then if the cap was off. This sounds to be like BS from the dealer.

      I'm finding it hard to up an downvote comments today, so many points, most valid, some some howlers. This should be laid at the lap of insurance.

  • +19

    why did you let the fire be extinguished? you should have driven the flaming mess back to the dealership, parked it on the showroom floor, and announce "repair or replace"

    • +1

      I know right!? Then at least she wouldn't have been robbed too!

  • +6

    Terrible situation, sorry to hear someone had the nerve to profit from your misfortune :(

    You mentioned a "funny sound", can you elaborate? Was it high pitched? Screeching? Constant? Whistling? Grinding? Whooping? Did it go up and down? Did the sound change at all from the time it started to the time the car stopped (was it speed dependent)?

    A proper investigation may end up costing heaps of resources (think air-crash investigation), diagnostic report from the dealer may or may not be helpful as it may have logged a heap of codes (and comms errors) that snowballed from the fire and wiring/modules getting fried/damaged. I'm also leaning towards insurance at this stage.

    The one positive from all this is thank god the fire started 10 secs after stopping and not before.

    • Thanks for your response and kind words.
      The sound was a ticking sound. It would occur when she put her foot on the accelerator and after the sound started, it felt as if the accelerator had no resistance to it, nor did it cause acceleration.
      Timing of events: Ticking sound (maybe 30 seconds by the time she called and got through to me), another 10 or so seconds before noticing smoke while on the phone, then she started slowing to a stop on the side of the freeway and the error came up while she was slowing down. At this point she had called 000 and looked under the car to see flames.

      • Did the ticking sound slow down as she braked? Do you both remember driving past or over any bags/debris? Was the last stop on unpaved road or could anything have been picked up under the car?

      • +6

        It sounds like a loose fuel hose with the fuel pump running dry. But it could be anything.

        Google search for your brand and engine fire, like this. If it is common, I would visit a lawyer.

        You can go insurance, SACAT or lawyer.

        Waiting over three weeks might have voided your insurance policy. If it hasn't, if you make a claim they will provide an assessor/adjuster. But they work for the insurance company, so it may be in your best interest to hire your own adjuster (often a dew hundred). Google search "Adjuster near me"

        If you go though SACAT, you will need reports from an adjuster stating the extent and value of the damage. Your remedy might be to be made whole again, or to be made partially whole. You would be bringing a claim against the retailer, ie the dealership you bought the car from. You would probably be better off than using insurance.

        I have not used SACAT, but other tribunals put you in mediation before seeing a magistrate or judge. In mediation stay firm about being made whole, but be polite.

        Most lawyers offer a short, free consultation to decide if this case is worth their time. Confirm the fist consultation is free before booking your first appointment. It's probably not worth more than a letter on their letter head, but you have multiple people you could harass write stern letters to.

        • I highly doubt that a dealership has someone employed who is qualified to assess fire damage. But this dealership did not sell you the car or charge for this service, soo…
        • You have a car of a brand that caught fire and burnt your belongings under normal use. It would be a shame for the media to get involved because their partner, a dealership, would not make you whole (a lawyer will write that less blackmaily). It would also be a shame if the media found out about their dealerships committing fraud (the radiator cap report, which I hope you have in writting). While you don't have a commercial agreement with the manufacturer, many will step up as it's often cheaper than making right both the customer and the retailer (who they have a duty to).
        • The dealership has a duty to provide you safe, fit for purpose goods and to remedy you for any looses due to them failing. You would need to work out looses or if any other claims are feasible (from memory, high school legal studies said that was a NSW thing).

        If you do decide to go the lawyer route, make sure you get a copy of that report stating the fire was due to a missing radiator cap. If they want to charge you, just pay them. The lawyer is going to cost you significantly more upfront.

        I am not a lawyer. This is not advice. Just my experience. It may be wrong.

        I would not share the brand and model unless instructed by your lawyer.

        • It can not be the fuel pump running dry either. The ECU and or BCU EFI relays will shut the pump/s down after 1-5 seconds of a non running/cranking or stalled engine. You will not know or hear the pump running unless your ear is right beside it/them, and most are now inside the fuel tank as well. Modern vehicles fuel hoses are not just rubber with a screw clamp anymore, but HP locking types, that do not come loose unless not fitted correctly, in which case the failure will be instant and in the workshop with a non starting engine. .

      • +1

        That ticking sound…is Engine Ping, 99.99% sure…I was not there, but have heard it 1000 times.
        Happens for a few reasons, and one is an overheating engine.

        • Maybe in a carby…

          • @mezje: It has nothing to do with the fuel delivery system. Facts only please to assist the OP.

  • Tucson? Or do they only catch fire when parked.

  • +3

    Our VW Golf drained all its coolant as the water pump was faulty - luckily the engine had automatic detection of low/no coolant which gave an audible and visible warning on the cars screen and we stopped immediately and called roadside. It was towed and all fixed under warranty by VW.

    I’m surprised a 2.5 year old car wouldn’t have something like this, or at least a warning the car was overheating.

  • +1

    "The car was towed initially to a crash repairer, and assessed for a couple of days. They were not able to fully assess the car there." Shouldn't the crash repairer would have noticed if the cap was on or off? Also weird that they have had the car at the dealers for three weeks without wanting it moved. Might have parts on it that are undamaged…

    • A crash repairer often fixes body panels. A mechanic would need to inspect the engine. Did the crash repairer remove the radiator cap. As others have said. A leaking radiator, eg no cap would result in engine overheating and a warning light coming on. Surely the driver would notice this? There does seem to be some fault of the driver if they continued to drive while a warning light was on.

      • The onboard comp didn't log any prior warnings, so the car wasn't sensing any overheating until the event.

  • +4

    and she had driven around 700km (with breaks every couple of hours)

    The coolant would have been fairly obvious at those breaks if the radiator cap was missing as the system on modern cars depends on pressure which the cap regulates.

  • +25

    Mate we need pictures to start the ozbargain investigation.
    Your asking for help but your not telling us about the car .Make and model?

    • +1

      Agreed. Why are you not naming the make and model of the car. They will be “forced” help you to minimise further damage to their name. Not mentioning their brand is not helping you at all. What are you going to lose? Afraid they are going to sue you? You almost lost a human life due to THEIR car catching fire while driven plus valuables. Why are you protecting the car dealer.

  • +6

    It would really help to know make/model, but your car should never catch fire, full stop, without the coolant cap, a car can run as long as there is water in the system, it will run warmer as its not under pressure and not as efficient, but the biggest issue will be losing water as it heats and expands, overflowing out of the radiator. If you drove 700km on a hot day without a cap, you would have noticed something was not right, steam from radiator, strange smell, engine losing power, if it was 45c it may not have made it home! Some cars even have audible alarms when overheating, worth checking as the computer would have logged this error.

    Checking a badly overheated engine is not that difficult, head would have warped, simple compression test will show any issues. I would be asking the dealer more questions on how they would investigate if you payed them $140 hour, get it itemised and if it’s their fault try and recover the costs. I know it’s too late but photos would have been great, good for insurance and would have shown the cap is still on!

    Do you have any mechanic friends that could help, otherwise try a forum dedicated to you make of car, like fordforums.com.au, there can be some knowledgeable people on there, ask the same question with all details, they might have some good suggestions or ideas on how to proceed…

    Cheers

    • -2

      No way a car can drive that far without coolant it would seize .
      A faulty cap could have exploded .
      I can understand where the dealer is coming from.
      How do they know that the right coolant was in the system ?
      His asking for help yet doesn't tell us his make and model .
      Good luck with the insurance claim you should be covered I think

      • +2

        How do they know that the right coolant was in the system ?

        It was always serviced at the dealer so if the wrong coolant was in it that's the dealers fault

      • +2

        No way a car can drive that far without coolant it would seize .

        Running without engine oil, the car would sieze but running without coolant or low coolant? Nahhhhh….maybe a lot of smoke coming out from under your hood and your temperature gauge hitting hot or max temperature but i'm pretty sure you'd still be able to drive it…just dont rev so high (maybe keep it under 3k, 2k preferably I guess)….and you'll have to rely on air cooling to cool your engine now since water cooling is impossible or not very efficient now and the car should still continue chugging along…

        • i take back my comment - some guy did a test on youtube with no oil, no coolant and no either of them and all three cars eventually stalled and seized up, with no oil being fastest (17 minutes) than no coolant (54 minutes); this was done with the cars just idling. I guess it would be quicker if you were to drive with no oil or and no coolant…

    • These are all great points, thanks for taking the time to share. I've added a few extra details and a photo of the underside of the car if you want to have a look.but I don't think it's that helpful tbh.

  • +8

    A 2.5yo car in normal dealership servicing, I'm guessing, the radiator cap would have never been removed.

    New coolant is only replaced every 10 years and the levels are inspected by low and high markings on the side of the plastic overflow bottle connected to the cooling system.

    A 2.5yo car would also have a visual / aural or possibly both alerts to tell you when coolant levels are low. Maybe your wife missed the visual warning on the cluster.

    Just go through your insurance and let them fight it out with the dealership / manufacturer.

    Mmmmm.

  • +11

    I've got $10 this is a Jeep given the story.
    Check your insurance some have new car replacement if they are under 3-5 years.
    If you do just do insurance and let them deal with it.

    New coolant is only replaced every 10 years and the levels are inspected by low and high markings on the side of the plastic overflow bottle connected to the cooling system.

    How on fire was the car? Cars not only present current status information but also record historical data.
    Then again maybe it's all burnt. Modern cars will record stuff like coolant level, and indicators if you blew a cylinder from being an asshat.

    I'd recommend calling your local Auto club, NRMA etc… And asking for their opinion on how to proceed. Don't trust a dealer, get the car independently checked.

    And finally last I read the legislation there is a limit of 40k for consumer guarantees. This does not mean you are out of luck, but it does mean you should go get a free consultation with a lawyer.

    Finally, seriously consider how you have been treated don't go but that brand car again.

    • +7

      $1.01 it's a Jeep heap. Heard this story before….

      This sounds like very good advice from deme, hit the insurance company and make it known to them straight away that this is not your partners fault AT ALL, you have done everything by the service book 100% and that as your insurer, they need to replace or repair the car ASAP, no mucking around.
      Onus is on them to prove any negligence, or they need to pay up, it's pretty much as simple as that.

      Let them fight the idiots at the Jeep dealership to get the money if they want to, that's what an insurance company is there for and that's what they can do best with their legal team at their disposal.

      And once you get a new or replacement POS Jeep, sell it cut your losses and "don't hold back"
      I'd ask for a cash settlement if it's a possibility.

      The scum of the earth that stole from your wife probably also owns a Jeep and saw the opportunity to be able to afford his next scheduled service engine replacement repair bill and took it. (seriously though sorry to hear that what an absolute scumbag! grr)

      Good luck!

      • +1

        Best comment.

      • +1

        Thanks for this, it's nice to get some encouraging words. It's not a Jeep though sorry to bust the theory. We are going to wait for the final word from the dealer before doing anything else. The insurer doesn't have a time limit on claims and we've already notified them of the incident but haven't put through a claim yet.

  • +1

    I forgot to ask for a ms paint diagram

  • +5

    If its a Hyundai or Kia it should be easy enough to find evidence that the issue already existed. Look at the indecents overseas and check engine model numbers.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iaMHhWkSNw

    • Incidences lol

      • They are talking about Trump supporters yeah?

  • +2

    People tend to be curious nowadays and "kids tend to record" everything. If you got no video or picture of your car on the day might be worth appealing the public for some why? Because everytime you lodge a claim, having something to support your words is more powerfull than throwing the ball back and forth. The dealer will not pay you unless you re willing to lodge a court claim or go public with the story which will make them to give you an offer privately. Hopefully , your partner is not suffering from stress after all of this happened because it s definetly a lot to handle. Good luck.

  • +12

    99% sure the fire brigade will not have removed the radiator cap. There's no point, and it would only have caused more problems.

    I'm not sure how a car would catch fire from overheating with no coolant though, I'd say it would stop running/seize well before that. Also, a question to ask may be to see if they can check what error codes the car has - if it had overheated to that point and there was no pressure in the cooling system, you'd expect warning codes in the ECU (engine computer) in a modern car I'd expect.

    • +1

      A loose radiator cap could've caused the transmission oil to overheat (auto), especially if the car was fully loaded and 45 degree day. maybe a fitting slipped loose or a vent spat oil on a hot exhaust (a'la VR commodore). there are no pressure sensors in the cooling system, only temp sensors, and they only work when they are submersed in coolant. so if they are did have a lack of coolant it could could make it hard for the car to cope, then it threw the toy out of the pram.

      OP should let the insurance handle it, whatever way you look at it, it will be handled for $1000 (or whatever your premium is).

      I wonder how long it was since the previous service? if in the last week or so you may have some recourse against dealer A with dealer Bs diagnosis.

    • +7

      Totally agree with this. I can't see how a car running without coolant would catch fire or even cause much damage given how many sensors cars have nowadays to detect low coolant pressure. A severely overheated engine won't get to temperatures anywhere near enough to ignite anything even petrol which needs to be at well over 200 degrees to ignite without an ignition source. Much more likely there was an electrical short somewhere that caused some of the plastics to catch fire.

      If you have access to the car see if you can workout which part of the engine bay the fire started.

      • I agree, we've got the dealer to have a better look now. Hopefully something turns up with that. Only then one error relating to the fire in the computer log. And it's the one that came up as my partner was pulling over.

  • +9

    Stop talking to the dealer.

    Go straight to the brand's head office. I did this when my Ford's timing belt broke prematurely. The dealer offered me a crappy "take it or leave it" offer for repair (charge me 80% of a new engine). I stood my ground, ignored the dealer, went to the manufacturer directly. Took a long time (2 months+), but I got a brand new engine out of it. Didn't cost me anything out of pocket.

    Not saying your manufacturer will do the same, but they care more about reputation than the dealer who are only trying to make $$$.

    • +2

      great wall

      • Corona

        • +1

          master card

    • +6

      Gotta be a Jeep…

  • +1

    I would expect this to be covered under warranty. Most new cars of reputable quality come with 5 or 7 year warranties now. The manufacturer should repair the car. I hope you can prove it wasn’t overloaded when the accident happened. Did you get the car serviced on time at the dealer? Is the manufacturer still in business. I’m guessing Great Wall or MG. Hyundai would probably just give a new car.

  • +2

    Second, I didn't mean to imply it was a new car (did I?) only that it was bought from new (ie 1 owner).

    but you said

    My partner's car, a 2.5yr old SUV worth ~$40k (bought new from dealer)

    So which one is it?

    As its a 2nd hand few year old car, unless its got a recall out for it, then yeah insurance.

    • +1

      They purchased it new 2.5 years ago.

  • +3

    Where is the dashcam vid?

  • +8

    Make and model? A radiator cap being off doesn't cause a car to catch fire. Also, if the cap wasn't there, how did they examine it?

    • AHhhhhhh, I didnt even notice that! Good question….