So cruising up I-5 from LA yesterday, in southern Oregon just beyond Grants Pass, and we notice this incredibly acrid smell. 10 seconds later, white smoke is coming out vents. We pull over, pop the hood, and see flames in the rear of the engine compartment. We look underneath and see flames underneath the car. A quick call to 911, who want to know exactly what mile marker we are at, who knows? By the time the 911 call has ended, flames have broken through to the passenger footwell.
We grabbed a few very critical things and stepped back, not knowing really what to do. HUGE kudos to the trucker who stopped with a fire extinguisher and put the flames out, and huge thanks to the second trucker who stopped, and huge thanks to all the truckers who passed word about the event via radio. In another two minutes the entire interior would have likely been in flames and the car would have been a total loss, the trucking community saved us. As it was the damage appears very minor, the exhaust pipe dropped off and hot exhaust gas straight out of the catalytic converter likely started the fire, missing almost all vital parts.
The fire crew showed up in another 10 minutes out of Grants Pass and cooled down everything, making sure nothing could flare back up. And Audi Roadside Assist got a tow out to us in half an hour, so that was good. Grants Pass Towing took us all the way to Beaverton to the nearest Audi dealer. And we negotiated an extra fee to just keep going to Seattle, so we ended up getting home albeit a few hours late, but huge thanks to Grants Pass Towing.
I won’t name the aftermarket exhaust installer who installed our exhaust, but it seems highly likely that this was the source of the problem, raspberries to you guys.
Finally, all the crap we carry in our car and no fire extinguisher? Lesson learned. If you don’t carry a jack and spare and you get a flat, your car doesn’t explode or burn to the ground or kill you, you are just inconvenienced. Probably would be wise to carry accessories that actually save lives and/or prevent catastrophic loss, instead of accessories that just enhance convenience.
Next on the bucket list — something involving poisonous snakes. Or maybe killer bees.