Fire under the hood

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  #1  
Old 02-23-07, 10:09 AM
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Fire under the hood

1997 Pontiac Grand Prix GT was stuck in the driveway/street last week during the blizzard in central Illinois. I was rocking it back and forth (reverse and overdrive) and revving it pretty hard.

Once I got the car back up the driveway, shut the car off and we thought we smelled something burning, thinking it was the tired from al the friction.

NOPE! Smoke started pouring out from under the hood, and we popped the hood and threw a lot of snow on it until the firre went out. The flames were small, but it looks like it destroyed the Radiator hose, spark plug wires and some other stuff.

I had it towed to the locak shop, and he mentioned something about a HARNESS that I would need to buy that PONTIAC no longer makes for this year of vehicle. I am not sure what harness he is talking about, but the car is only worth 2000.00 max and want to repair it, but not for the "well over a grand" estimate I was given.

The guy looking at it is a friend, and he suggests that I probably would not have any luck getting a HARNESS without the engine/motor/etc.. at a junkyard beause when they take the motor/engine out, the harness usually goes with it.

Can anybody help me figure out what harness it being referred to, because outside of the labor costs, I am not coming up with a harness that is going to drive the repair cost to above a thousand doallrs.

Any and all advice/recommendations are welcome!
 
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  #2  
Old 02-23-07, 10:25 AM
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They are talking about the wiring harness - basically a bunch of wires grouped together with plugs on the ends to connect it in various places.

I've never tried to buy a wiring harness for a modern car but have priced them for antiques and they can be expensive. Depending on the damage it is possible that you could just replace the affected wires. I have replaced just certain wires before when they were bad but the rest of the harness was ok.
 
  #3  
Old 02-23-07, 10:25 AM
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At a junk yard a sale is a sale
When I worked at one ,if a person wanted a harness we sold them the harness. Person wanted an engine they got the engine.
Take a picture or memorize exactly all the wires you need and go visit some scrap yards
 
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Old 02-23-07, 11:15 AM
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When I meet with the guy on Monday, I will make sure I take in all the info he gives me so I can proceed form there.

If it is just a harness, what do you think that would run at a junk yard? I seen the harness for a 69 pontiac was 739.00, I just hope that it is not that bad for a 1997.
 
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Old 02-23-07, 02:10 PM
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They are expensive and can be VERY labor intensive to remove and replace.

It will NOT be fun.
 
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Old 02-23-07, 02:54 PM
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no fun

It wont be like the 69 price maybe 75-100 bucks throw in new plug wires hoses etc you might be out 300 or so bucks. My question is why the fire? A fuel leak?
Not a fun job and even worse if it goes thru the firewall (no pun intended).
The other stuff is what? That can cost if it is emmsion stuff. Good luck and post back on how it went.
 
  #7  
Old 02-23-07, 10:18 PM
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I will ask where the fire originated from and its cause when I talk to the mechanic on Monday. I wonder if there is any chance of a spark plug or something sparking onto some old oil or something?

I am taking it to a place on Monday and having a guy see if he can salvage any of it. If so, he will just replace the wire that needs to be replaced, which is less money and less time. I doubt I will have any luck with that, but I have nothing to lose, right?
 
  #8  
Old 02-24-07, 08:14 AM
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Two things most likely caused the fire:

With all that revving going from reverse to drive, etc, heating your exhaust mainfold up to a extrememly hot temperature and a near by harness or hose ignited.

or

You already had a damaged harness and the snow and water shorted the harness out.

it also could have been a fue leak, but it will be hard to find out.
 
  #9  
Old 02-24-07, 07:56 PM
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Go for it !
You should be able to a harness at a salvage yard.
What's the harm in trying.
As you now know it only takes a little bit of fire to do alot of damage.
I know this to. I roasted a harness and cap and fan shroud on a vintage 67 Buick.
I agree with HotinOKC I once had a 77 Granada and got stuck in a 2 foot snow storm of 1982 and my exhaust manifold was glowing red.
 
  #10  
Old 02-25-07, 04:47 AM
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Salvage yards

Look around, in our area, we have one that is interesting because you pay a fee to get in (it used to be $1, but I think it is $5-$10 now), bring your tools, they provide the wheel barrel. Once inside, you take whatever you can find/get. Check around, see if there is something like that in your neck of the woods.
 
  #11  
Old 02-26-07, 11:23 AM
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Well guys, the car started right up and I drive it about 7 miles to another mechanic that is going to see if he can replace just a section of bad wires, not the entire harness. Now the diagnosis is free, so that is a plus. At this point, I only had to pay for the initial towing charge and did not blow up driving it across town.

However, the engine temp went from 0 to 155 in about 5 minutes, which seemed unusually quick, do you concur?

Question: since the car runs, and you cannot detect anything wrong with it by driving it, would there be anything lawfully wrong against trying to trade it in for another used vehicle? It sounds ethically immoral, but that is why I am posing the question.

Am I liable for anything after a sale/trade in based on the infromation I give hi, when he asks if anything is wrong with it?

I should hear on what the diagnosis is on the car sometime Tuesday. I will continue to check out salvage yards.
 
  #12  
Old 02-26-07, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mrkris82 View Post
However, the engine temp went from 0 to 155 in about 5 minutes, which seemed unusually quick, do you concur?.
Your elec fan may not be getting power.
 
  #13  
Old 02-27-07, 03:31 PM
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Guy said something leaked onto the exhaust manifold and caught on fire. The origin of the fire is on the manifold and it did not harm the radiator hose at all. He says he can repiar the burnt section, but will not have an estimate prepared until sometime tomorrow, so I will not know the cost of the repair until then.

I have a truck that is a killer on gas, so I am not without a vehicle regardless. However, the grand prix is a 1997 has 130k miles and runs pretty pretty good. I am hoping the repair is reasonable (perhaps 500.00) at an 84.95/hr labor rate.

How much would be too much for a repiar at this point for this car?
 
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Old 02-28-07, 06:33 AM
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Well, I'm thinking the car is worth about $2500-3000 depending on the condition of the rest of the vehicle. I don't think I would spend more than $500 getting it going again.
 
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Old 02-28-07, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by mrkris82 View Post
Guy said something leaked onto the exhaust manifold and caught on fire. The origin of the fire is on the manifold and it did not harm the radiator hose at all. He says he can repiar the burnt section, but will not have an estimate prepared until sometime tomorrow, so I will not know the cost of the repair until then.

I have a truck that is a killer on gas, so I am not without a vehicle regardless. However, the grand prix is a 1997 has 130k miles and runs pretty pretty good. I am hoping the repair is reasonable (perhaps 500.00) at an 84.95/hr labor rate.

How much would be too much for a repiar at this point for this car?
Depending on what wires or parts need replacing you could diy.
But beware if you are going to splice into the loom(harness) some components in you vechile require a certian recistance going through them and soldering wires will increace resistance thus causing more problems.A.B.S sensor wires and airbags are a couple of things u have to consider.
 
  #16  
Old 03-01-07, 11:30 AM
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Well, the repair totals with labor and tax are going to exceed $1950.00 WOW!

I declined to have them repair it, obviously, but did get the parts that needed repaired. Oil leaked onto the exhaust manifold and the hat and oil lit up the manifold and caught fire.

Anyway, I need the following 8 parts, and surprisingly, I called a junkyard and a local parts dealer and my price is around 250.00 (excluding whatever the junk yard dude charges to take this stuff off)

Upper intake manifold-125-junk yard
lower intake manifold-50-junkyard
dipstick-5-junkyard
thermostat-5.50-dealer
valve covers-20-junk yard
valve gaskets-15-dealer
spark plug covers (not sure what these are)- no pirce until i know what i am looking for
Spark plug wires-35.50-dealer

Not bad. I am guessing I will be charged over 100.00 in labor for the parts at the salvage yard, does that sound right? Then all I have to do is find somebody who will do the repairs for me. You will see that this list does not include the wires within the harness. That is an issue of its own that will run 350-450 parts/labor. It is not a necessity at this point and is not the cause of the problem, so its on the back burner.

With these types of repairs, how many hours do you thnk it would take to remove old parts and put on the newer ones? I am trying to determine what labor would be if I go through a mechanic if my girlfriends dad cannot do it.
 
  #17  
Old 03-01-07, 01:30 PM
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I've never had a junk yard charge me for taking the parts off that they sold me. Most junk yards remove all parts they sell, a few will let you pull the parts - I usually go to them because they are cheaper.
 
  #18  
Old 03-01-07, 02:13 PM
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yikes

Question? how long did this fire burn? Reason I ask is because I really cant see were a short fire can wipe out some of the parts you said. Manifolds are metal some are plastic,valve covers metal?
I can see spark plug wires getting fried cause they are thin. Dip stick probbably melted the plastic top but if looks are not important and it does not come apart you can probbably use it.
I question the manifolds and valve covers getting toasted unless (one) they are plastic (two) the fire was a big long one.
 
  #19  
Old 03-01-07, 04:45 PM
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If the manifolds have no holes in them dont replce them same with the valve covers unless you dont like the look of it. Go to autozone of equal to get your wires, way less expense and prob. the same brand as the dealership.
 
  #20  
Old 03-02-07, 08:00 AM
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I dont think the fire was going that long because it was only apparent that smoke was coming out from under the hood for maybe 15 seconds before we put it out. The flames were small and smelly and the smoke was very dark.

Our salvage does not charge labor either (but I do remember being charged $50 for a motor pack once) so that is good. I will have a guy look at it this weekend and he will know if things need to be replaced.

I think I drove it to its limits on its one leg because I did not pull in the garage correctly, so I had to restart the car and adjust it. Well, as I was backing up, it started to do this skipping/backfiring noise in the exhaust/engine, so I shut it off right away. I am not sure where holes exist if they do, but we will know more this weekend. I also am not sure what all of these parts are made of nor what they look like, so I could not really even venture to check these parts, other than the spark plug materials.
 
  #21  
Old 03-02-07, 08:45 AM
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Yes I would not spend $2000 on a car that is almost 10 years old and has been pushed so hard that it caught fire.
I think you got your shopping list off of the shop that was going to charge the $2000. They may be right and may be wrong. Everything in life is subjective.
I would get 3 different opinions on what to get.
Start off with what you need to get it running so you know that the engine is still good. As far as that goes, look at the whole car. Getting stuck is real hard on the transmission and the gear box.
As Michel Van said, this sounds like a lot of parts for a little fire.
I used to work at a scrap yard for years when young and we would take them to the orchard and puch them till they caught fire (No small task!)
There was usually not to much damage done. Put it out and off again.
Maybe your fire was a bad one. I dont know.
 
  #22  
Old 03-02-07, 01:27 PM
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If it was back firing coughing farting and splutering it sounds like you might have a massive vacum leak(hole in intake manifold)
Or some of those wires and leads are shorting to ground.
 
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