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There's a website that's been tracking these fire incidents since 2012; looks like reporting to NHTSA actually works, at least in this case. :)
 

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As one who's first smart caught on fire, back in 2008, I felt smart was quite responsive in looking into it and replacing my car. Not too sure it is as common as the website made it out to be. Some of the ones they showed (at least last time I looked at the site) were operator or mechanic's failures or mistakes.
 

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I saw on a youtube video where the fiber engine compartment insulation fibers were getting sucked into the alternator and not letting it cool. Perhaps this is one way the fires were starting?

-silent
 

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Mine started inside the car, apparently there was a bad solder joint in the fuse box. all the lights and electrical components went crazy, smoke came out the dash, I had plastic dripping on my feet before I could stop and bail out.

Special note: a bottle of Mtn Dew does not work as a fire extinguisher. I was lucky that a passer by stopped with a fishing boat in tow and produced a fire extinguisher and a pair of pliers to disconnect the battery. unfortunately he hit me in the face with the extinguisher spray as I was disconnecting the battery.

As I was talking with the emergency number for MB, a fire truck rolled up and started to cool down what they thought was the drive shaft (there isn't one under the car from front to rear) and the were concerned about a box they found under the floor... (pump and tire goo) Lets just say they learned a lot that day....
This happened in the middle of nowhere, only spectators were a group of cows in the field. car was 7 months old and had 17,000 miles on it. no options and a 2008 Pure.

I have been told it is in Germany in a warehouse after they did an analysis to find out what happened. up until then all the cars that had caught fire had burned up. I was quick enough to get it put out and they sent it back for dissection. I had put my store's name across the back window so I know the one in Germany is my car. I was told at a rally that there is a car just like mine with the same window label in Germany. Only 3 of the stickers were made. 1 on the car that burned. 2 on it's replacement car, and the 3rd I still have.
 

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Mine started inside the car, apparently there was a bad solder joint in the fuse box. all the lights and electrical components went crazy, smoke came out the dash, I had plastic dripping on my feet before I could stop and bail out.

Special note: a bottle of Mtn Dew does not work as a fire extinguisher. I was lucky that a passer by stopped with a fishing boat in tow and produced a fire extinguisher and a pair of pliers to disconnect the battery. unfortunately he hit me in the face with the extinguisher spray as I was disconnecting the battery.

As I was talking with the emergency number for MB, a fire truck rolled up and started to cool down what they thought was the drive shaft (there isn't one under the car from front to rear) and the were concerned about a box they found under the floor... (pump and tire goo) Lets just say they learned a lot that day....
This happened in the middle of nowhere, only spectators were a group of cows in the field. car was 7 months old and had 17,000 miles on it. no options and a 2008 Pure.

I have been told it is in Germany in a warehouse after they did an analysis to find out what happened. up until then all the cars that had caught fire had burned up. I was quick enough to get it put out and they sent it back for dissection. I had put my store's name across the back window so I know the one in Germany is my car. I was told at a rally that there is a car just like mine with the same window label in Germany. Only 3 of the stickers were made. 1 on the car that burned. 2 on it's replacement car, and the 3rd I still have.
Learned the hard way on household electrical wiring that the screws on the outlets holding down the wires need to be tightened nice and tight otherwise there can be heat/melting!!! Little did I learn from EE/CS..... (Getting shocked 4 or so times last week didn't help either. Surprising how easy it is to shock yourself on A/C 120V.....)

So far no flames coming out of mine.... :D:D:D

Maybe a good idea to leave the fire extinguisher in the smart from now on....
 

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Huh...I wonder how common the fires actually are? I mean, Tucker got so hot he either melted his own insulation and wiring (which probably would have caused a fire), or he actually caught fire but the fire stopped.

Either way there was lots of smoke billowing out and heat/fire damage to the engine bay. Still no explanation as to what caused it in the first place though. Sure, there was a drop or two of oil on the muffler, but that shouldn't cause the whole thing to go up in smoke, no?
 
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As one who's first smart caught on fire, back in 2008, I felt smart was quite responsive in looking into it and replacing my car. Not too sure it is as common as the website made it out to be. Some of the ones they showed (at least last time I looked at the site) were operator or mechanic's failures or mistakes.
i remember that at the Dells rally!
 

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If I had seen this fire, I might not even have a smart today!!!!

Sent from my MT2L03 using Tapatalk
The thing you have to remember is that sample size of data is extremely important. Anyone can gather data and put it all in one place. Seeing that data all there collected on a webpage gives the illusion of a widespread issue, even if that's not the intent of the one gathering the data. It's overwhelming to take in so much all at once.

So what you have to do is take that data, then compare it against data on a macro scale. Say is that "smartcarsucks" (totally an impartial name) site collected about 1,000 worldwide fires from the 450 to the 453. What you'll have to do is compare that number against how many cars smart has built, and you'll get a percentage. Then you take that percentage and compare it against any other cars that have burned (every model from every manufacturer has guaranteed seen at least 1 fire) or the national average, and see if smart's average makes sense.

You'd most likely find that smarts don't burn any more or any less than any run of the mill internal combustion vehicle. I can run such statistics if anyone is genuinely interested.

And the cool part is that you can do this with any data. I do it all the time to debunk myths, deliberate misinformation, fake news, and negative stigmas with just about everything. Math doesn't lie!

Yay, statistics. :x
 

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I have knowledge of two 451's that caught fire. Actually, the fire was from the engine compartment insulation smoldering. It wasn't really a fire. In both cases, the engine was blowing oil all over the engine compartment and the insulation was coming loose and laying on top of the engine. The owner's kept driving evening though their smart cars were dripping oil when parked and the insulation was saturated. I suspect this was caused by a PCV issue. Who would you blame for the smoldering fire? The car or the owner.
 

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I saw an Edsel burn up in front of my house when I was a kid. So that demonstrates Smarties aren't the only ones that burn up. LOL There are a lot of car fires.
 

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Learned the hard way on household electrical wiring that the screws on the outlets holding down the wires need to be tightened nice and tight otherwise there can be heat/melting!!! Little did I learn from EE/CS..... (Getting shocked 4 or so times last week didn't help either. Surprising how easy it is to shock yourself on A/C 120V.....)

So far no flames coming out of mine.... :D:D:D

Maybe a good idea to leave the fire extinguisher in the smart from now on....
Haha.... yea. loose terminal wire = smaller contact point = smaller surface area to transfer the same amount of current = tiny spot gets hot REAL quick.
 

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At this point, the smart cars with the loose/falling insulation are those probably buying them on the used car market. These owners probably barely know how to open the hood flap or even find the engine, and they're probably complaining about a perfectly fine transmission too.

Most of these folks are already on edge thinking there's "something wrong with the car" every time the car shifts, and so once some of the hood insulation lays on top of a hot exhaust manifold and burns these folks are running to make NHTSA complaints. I do believe the engine cover should have had rivets drilled into the hood insulation into the other side. It would be a good, low cost remedy to the "problem." Keep a car long enough and for enough years, and hood insulation is bound to fall onto the engine in many other vehicles as well. The difference is that in a more conventional car with a front engine, the owners typically know and have confidence enough to pop the hood and immediately identify the problem.
 

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I wonder how many people drive Fortwos that rarely ever check the oil only at oil change? I mean you have stuff in the back and have to unload it to pull the carpet up to fumble with the engine cover release bolt. I bet we'd be surprised how many people never pop the cover to check anything, let alone oil level.
I would think gas from the fuel system would flash a fire quicker than anything. When I was a teenager I put a used holley double pumper on my 65 Chevelle. It had an O ring that sprayed a fine jet of gas all over my Accel wires and distributor cap. Back in those days there was a set of points inside the distributor arcing to fire the coil, remember those? Well the gas ignited in a heartbeat and it to our water hose, the neighbors water hose, and every throw rug I could grab off the floor to extinguish that gas fire.




So it seems to me to be more in line with gas leak on a already hot exhaust manifold or an even hot in operation catalytic converter. Gas would flash much easier than oil would. I have a hard time imagining how hot that little 3 cyl gets on a 100 degree day pulling a long hill with the A/C on and the only active air over the engine is the breeze from driving other than the coolant circulating to the front to the radiator. Look at all the Ponitac Fiero's that caught fire with the mid engine design.
 

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Thanks all!

I only returned one lease/car in all my life, and it was because I did not notice when I first picked it up the front end had some damage. The dealer eventually had the front end professionally repaired, but it was after some debate with the GM of the dealership on whether I was the one who caused some of it. Gonna be keeping the smart for a while...

I've been around Mercedes products a long time now. My first car was an '85 300D Turbo purchased with over 100k miles on the ODO. (Drove an extra 200k miles on that at least. Still sitting in my driveway.). The interesting thing is that we have an '85 Cadillac Sedan de Ville as well, that one since new. I'll admit that the de Ville has much less mileage, but: Those hood covers on Mercedes are glued on. After many years of use they start to crumble and fall apart. If you're going to say use I have a '92 190E that has the same thing with just over 120k miles, bought with just under 15k miles because I wasn't so happy with "the tank". Then there's the '91 420SEL that we've had since new. (Took my parents 9 years to pay that one off!). If I recall correctly that hood cover at one point had to be replaced as well). The de Ville cover looks like it would last an eternity, even though at at least one point the serpentine belt whipped a nice gash into it when it literally broke because some numbskull tech decided to mess, hopefully accidentally, with my alternator shims!

To Elemental, thanks for explaining. Just so happens it took me years to figure out why one outlet didn't work. Sadly it was in my parents' bathroom where we would plug in a heater when it gets cold, and the problem was in another bathroom I had worked on! That outlet still worked!!!!

DCO: You had a wonderful picture of a smart with a Christmas tree with some nice winter weather. I wake up in the middle of the night and: MY EYES!!!!! MY POOR EYES!!!!! J/K
But you make a good point. Almost everything else to check is in the front of the car, if my memory serves me. (I'm guilty of not checking the oil level much, usually only after a service when I want to make sure they didn't over fill it). Not to mention that darn cover is usually HOT as well when you try to open and check the oil level...

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Smart Fortwo car fire reports: Safety investigators probe complaints of engines catching fire - CBS News

Of course the comments section is filled with people talking about smarts who know nothing about them and who have obviously never driven one or even sat in one... it's kind of like reading a Consumer Reports review of the car. I put my own two cents in their to correct some of their stupidity.
I'm not even going to bother. I used to debunk smart bashers on YouTube, now I stick to debunking smart bashers on Jalopnik (I'm officially/unofficially royalty on Jalopnik nowadays lol) and fighting folks on Breitbart. :D
 

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Insulation worn, but not flammable.

My 2008 pure has over 100k miles on it. Insulation is shot under the rim of the engine compartment above the exhaust pipe, shows excessive deterioration. BUT, I removed some and tried to light it with a butane torch. Merely smoldered a bit but could not get it to stay lit. Smelled familiar, sometimes that odor occurs after garaging car after a long drive. Now I know why. Also found slight oil ring around the vent hole to the gear change motor cover, but again, was not excessive enough to be in any danger. Also, the engine cover itself has insulation shrunk on the edge over the exhaust. But it does not seem to be burnt.
 
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