Wednesday, October 6, 2010

72. My E36 almost caught fire!

So, this was a real shocker!

One day, while driving home from work, nasty smell started coming out of my air vents. The smell was easy to recognize - it was burned plastic.

As soon as I drove off the highway, I stopped the car. By the time, there was a lot of smoke coming from the vents, as well. Believe me, that's not a good sign. (Especially if you don't have a fire extinguisher in the car.) I quickly stopped the car, and disconnected the battery in a couple of seconds. I might have set a new world record in doing it.

At first, I thought that my head unit installation was bad, so I pulled it out of the dashboard. (If you remember, I installed it a couple of months ago.) It wasn't bad.
Then, I tore out the panel that's under the steering column... And there it was. All of the wires, coming from the light switch, were melted together.
Luckily, there was no real fire, just a lot of smoke. I waited for the smoke to clear, and I started investigating. I found out that, the previous owner had installed some over-kill fuses. The fuses didn't break, and that's why my wires started melting (and fuses, too).

Right. The first thing for me, was to buy some new fuses, and 200 meters of insulation tape. LOL. (And, I bought a fire extinguisher, as well.) After a couple of hours, my BMW was again, on the road. Well, half of the electrics didn't work, but I could drive home, at least.

It took me two days to repair/replace all the melted wires (All of the wires under the dash started melting).
And it took me a day to find the cause of the whole mess. I found it on my trunk lid. There was a short at the hole where the wires come out of the lid. I fixed that, and from then, no problems. :)

Sorry, I don't have a lot of pictures. I was tight with time (since, I need the car to drive to work.). And, it was raining at the time... So, here's just one little detail - after fixing the short on the trunk lid. (Note - those huge red and black wires are for the third brake light on the wing). I did put some silicone there after I took the picture, so, now it's fully water-proof. :)

P.S. I used self-extinguishing tape to wrap the wires. :) Yea!

What have I learned?
  •  NEVER put over-sized fuses in your car.
  • ALWAYS have a fire extinguisher in your car.
  • REGULARLY  check your electrical installation for sings of wear.

 This is a nice thing to have!

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