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Battery Fire Discussion

David.85D

Active Member
Oct 29, 2016
1,619
1,393
USA
ignoring the name calling, your post is based on the false hypothesis that failures in manufactured goods scale primarily with age. They do, in part, but one should be aware that they also have a very high early failure rate, generating what is widely called the "bathtub curve" that is true for both human mortality and failure of manufactured goods. In many circumstances, the failure rate is highest at first use (and birth) and doesn't reach the same high failure rate for a long, long time.
 

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ignoring the name calling, your post is based on the false hypothesis that failures in manufactured goods scale primarily with age. They do, in part, but one should be aware that they also have a very high early failure rate, generating what is widely called the "bathtub curve" that is true for both human mortality and failure of manufactured goods. In many circumstances, the failure rate is highest at first use (and birth) and doesn't reach the same high failure rate for a long, long time.



Fine, but if you want to play that game I will accuse you of suggesting only new cars under 1 year old catch fire and do so for no reason and that age, neglects and accidents play no part.

In my post I referenced some GM cars that had electrical fires, those were fairly new, they were building that generation for maybe 16months when the part was updated. That supports your premise that new cars burn without damage but the suggestion you seem to be making that a significant portion of auto fires are new vehicles without some outside influence of damage or disrepair is I believe wildly inaccurate.

If you have some evidence on numbers of new under 1yo cars that catch fire without outside influence please share we all want to see it.

Till I see otherwise I will presume most car fires involve accidents including road debris, neglect, fluid leaks something not inherent to the design of the vehicle.
 
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Russell

Member
Supporting Member
Sep 25, 2012
979
744
Silicon Valley
On Sept 10, 2018, a 7 month old BMW spontaneously burst into flames.

"The Grevle family says the carmaker assured them that their 2017 BMW was not part of a recall involving a problem with the power steering control, but on Monday, after the family got home, a neighbor pounded on their door to alert them that there was smoke coming from their car."
LA family demands answers after parked BMW catches fire


Around the same time, Oct 23, 2018, BMW is expanding a recall to cover 1.6 million vehicles worldwide due to possible fluid leaks that could result in a fire.
BMW to recall 1.6 million vehicles worldwide over fire risk
 
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Oddly, none of the other car fires that day seemed to gather this much media attention.

This may be an opportunity to stock up on TSLA shares if it affects the stock price today:)

Not sure it is the fire attracting all the attention but the fire department needing to watch the car all night part. This is not a Tesla thing but a EV thing. Imagine 16 million new EV's hitting the roads every year in 10 years time. Going to take a lot of fire department resources.
 
Not sure it is the fire attracting all the attention but the fire department needing to watch the car all night part. This is not a Tesla thing but a EV thing. Imagine 16 million new EV's hitting the roads every year in 10 years time. Going to take a lot of fire department resources.
True...but it seems like there are more Tesla incidents than other EVs...maybe cuz there are more Teslas?
Plug-in electric vehicle fire incidents - Wikipedia
 
This incident was close enough to me that we saw the helicopter flying overhead and our first thought was bad crash on 17. My experience tells me that if you call for a tow and don't specify a flat bed, you very likely won't get one unless the dispatcher knows that a Tesla should never be towed with wheels on the ground

http://assets.teslastatic.com/roadside_assistance_extract.pdf

It wouldn't surprise me if how it was towed contributed to the issue but also, the junk on route 17 that damaged the tire could easily be blamed for damaging the battery

I agree with the folks above - a ICE car fire is negative news but Tesla, front page!
 
To those who want to talk about the BMW fires do you have any data to suggest that new cars randomly catching fire is statistically significant when talking about 500 auto fires a day?

It happens nobody says it doesn't.

Solor makes a good point about how EVs need prolonged attention after pack damage, I doubt firefighters watching them is the long term solution, probably more like segregated parking and fire suppression. Also there is a century plus of experience fighting fuel fires in ICE cars, best practices for batteries will improve rapidly as they become more common.

gavine, do you have a single known example of a Tesla being towed backwards having the pack damaged by debris?

ICE have a lot of parts that run at very high temperatures, but that cool off fairly quickly after the vehicle is turned off so if a fire isn't immediate it is highly unlikely to happen, the way an EV pack can go into thermal runaway well after the damage event just requires a different approach that isn't there yet.

The case that prompted this discussion I think was pack damage from whatever popped the tire, and due to lack of information with towing personnel was not identified or addressed.
An ICE a fuel system is easier to protect from crash or debris damage than a big battery pack, it is all a fairly small footprint to protect from road debris compared to a battery that is huge and set as low as possible in the car to keep center of gravity down low. Gas tank and gas line are not the whole bottom of the passenger compartment.......

I am sure this gets a bunch of thumbs down from the sycophants but stop and read what I wrote I am not bashing EVs just being realistic. I almost daily I end up explaining to someone how easy it is to live with an electric car
 
At one time my car of choice was the mid 90s General Motors b-bodies Caprice, Roadmaster, Fleetwood, the 94 and I believe early 95 models had zinc auxiliary battery terminals, these were known to build heat, melt wiring and some did catch fire in garages, prompting a service bulletin for replacement with brass terminal that didn't corrode and overheat. That was an electrical fire in an ICE completely unrelated to liquid fuel, with a small low load electrical system You think this is possible that a 400volt system capable of the output it has could have issues a dedade or 15 years down the road with some corrosion and wear in terminals?

You are definitely correct about the early LT1 Caprice cop cars as I saw several examples of the underhood fuse box fires and even bought one as a parts car. I think that the GM core support sticker showing that this recall had been completed was "Campaign C."

Regarding frequency of fires in new vs medium age vs old cars, I think you both make valid points, where new cars with design or manufacturing flaws, like improper fluid line routing or connections, have a higher fire rate than medium age cars whose flaws have been sorted out. But older cars with aging rubber hoses, fluid leaks, corrosion, cracking insulation, dirt buildup leading to higher temps underhood, generally less attention paid to service, etc. also have higher fire incidence.

Although I haven't looked for any stats, I expect that car fires are less common than in the past but they get a lot more attention than they used to for 2 reasons: (1) even ICE cars are better designed, don't have disintegrating soft rubber fuel lines with multiple hose clamps, don't have spaghetti network of rubber vacuum emission hoses draped all over the engines, etc. so they catch fire at lower rates than clapped-out '70s & '80s cars common two or three decades ago; and (2) everyone today has a video camera on their phone and ready to share the arresting visual which TV news craves.
 

2101Guy

Active Member
Jan 6, 2020
3,234
5,207
USA
I think we all have been hearing about more fires recently. I would feel better with some stats on EV fires. anybody have an idea of how often this happens? Is this ICE advocates building up marginal statistics?
I dont have exact stats, but from all ive read, far fewer instances per total, than gas engine cars.
Ergo: you are MUCH more likely to experience a car fire in a gas engined car, than a Tesla.
 
I would be very concerned if I was driving a Bolt:


 
So full caveat, can’t find much follow up data, but what is the deal with these Tesla’s catching on fire while charging in garage overnight. I’ll ask that you avoid saying people shouldn’t charge when unattended as that is what most of us do. Is their a systemic issue us with Tesla’s? Just FYI, I’m have a cybertruck on order and Model Y on the way, so I’m not an anti-Tesla guy.
 
I would be very concerned if I was driving a Bolt:


Have a friend with a Bolt, he's happy to be getting a brand new battery at the 4 year mark, but concerned it might be many months to get them all done. I don't think he's necessarily concerned his will catch fire, but following GM's guidance in the meantime makes the car unusable. Not charging too full, not letting it get too empty, parking outside after charging,...
 
So full caveat, can’t find much follow up data, but what is the deal with these Tesla’s catching on fire while charging in garage overnight. I’ll ask that you avoid saying people shouldn’t charge when unattended as that is what most of us do. Is their a systemic issue us with Tesla’s? Just FYI, I’m have a cybertruck on order and Model Y on the way, so I’m not an anti-Tesla guy.
We have two garaged Tesla's, and I'm not particularly concerned about battery fires, but I did also find it hard to get any details about the San Ramon fire from Dec that was briefly covered in news this week.

For example, there were two Model S but was it the one that was plugged in that caught fire, was it charging at the time? And whether it was the older or newer one, I.e. was it the older battery pack tied to batterygate or not. But at least it was suggested the fire started in the battery, not from a faulty charging circuit, another thing that might be more worrisome than faulty batteries.

It was also stated insurance covered the $1 million in home damage. But when the car causes the home fire, is it your auto comprehensive that is primary, or your homeowner's insurance? I know the home insurance will NOT cover the cars, that's about it... Just want to make sure I have enough coverage
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
18,048
44,435
Oregon
Have a friend with a Bolt, he's happy to be getting a brand new battery at the 4 year mark, but concerned it might be many months to get them all done.
But that isn't what GM has said they are going to do. From what I have seen they have said they are going to run more diagnostics on the pack and replaced the failed modules/cells. It doesn't sound like they are planning to replace all of the packs. (Or really any packs.)

From: Learn About

As part of this recall, GM will replace defective battery modules in the recall population.

From: GM issues second recall of Chevy Bolt EVs after vehicles catch fire

To fix the problem, GM said it will replace defective battery modules in the vehicles, which can be costly but will be free to owners. The automaker says the repair is different than the previous fix, which largely relied on software and, in some cases, replacement modules.

“We’re working with our supplier and manufacturing teams to determine how to best expedite battery capacity for module replacement under the recall,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said in an email. “These teams are working around the clock on this issue.”

We will see how it really ends up going though.
 
Indeed, about 500/day in the US on average.


500 car fires per day on average in the US. If Tesla’s caught fire proportional to the ICE rate and their sales, we should expect 4 Tesla fires every day....

All cars: 175,000 fires per year, 6,000,000 sold per year.

Tesla (2017 number): 50,000 sold per year
It’s not just those sold that year what about the 6,000,000 from each of the previous years for what 30 years so 180,000,000 but not all are still running so take 50% 175,000 per 90,000,000 cars
Edited actually 280,000,000 registered vehicles in 2020
 
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