The holiday season can be stressful, but even more so when your car becomes a conflagration. Our own FrankGG recounts how he narrowly missed becoming road fondue…

I’m just fine but my car became the world’s largest Christmas candle on a 280 exit ramp in Orange. My car began to smoke….(more than usual)…I got an inkling….pulled over…jumped out….and it just BURST into flames! (the picture I took is of the firemen trying to ax open the hood!) I’m cross because I just spent $2000. to repair it…just to have it blow to smithereens!!!!
In January it will be in my budget to buy another $700. eventually exploding car. (I would look stupid in an Escalade anyway!)

Frank — we’re glad you escaped.

Liz George is the publisher of Montclair Local.

42 replies on “When Cars Explode”

  1. FrankGG, I’m glad you are okay, but it sounds like to me that there might be an issue on how it was repaired? I would think there would be some liability against your mechanic or wherever you took it to fo repairs.
    I’m curious, what kind of car was it?

  2. Had the exact same thoughts, Anne…what did you just get repaired? OOF.
    Glad you’re okay, but maybe a used Honda would be a better idea next time! Is that…could it be…was it…a K car?

  3. Looking like a Volvo, to me.
    Bad bad fire. I’ve seen others, this is about the worst. Glad you are allright.
    That’s pretty scary.

  4. Ditto you’re OK Frank, cars, lawsuits, whatever can be sorted out later.
    Years ago before I quit, I had stepped outside work for a smoking break. When I first got outside I noticed nothing in the parking lot across the street (the only view), halfway thru I notice some “steam” coming out front grill of a parked car. One puff later there were flames visible. I ran into the building and called the fire department, the station house was literally on the other side of the lot. They were there in what seemed like seconds. I watched as they extinguished a fire that was shooting flames at least ten feet in the air, I couldn’t believe how fast that car went up, it was a total loss. Again, good move Frank, glad you are safe. Car fire?, get out fast.

  5. I was once sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car that was OFF. NO KEY IN THE IGNITION–when smoke started coming in through the vents. My (then) boyfriend was in the car dealer checking on the repairs to his truck–this was the ‘loaner’ that they had given him. I’ve never moved so fast in my life. Ran into the dealership spewing “the car is smoking and it’s not even on” over and over again. We got a different car before we left. VERY scary.

  6. Frankgg. Glad to heart that you’re all right.
    Don’t be so quick to blame the mechanic. I had a similar thing happen to me many years ago, but fortunatly a Cedar Grove policeman put out the fire while it was still smoldering. It was caused when a short circuit developed in the electrical harness. It had nothing to do with any repairs.
    How old is the car? Have there been any recalls on that model. Sometimes there are “silent recalls” where the owner isn’t notified until ( and unless) he shows up at a dealer to get his car serviced.

  7. Frank, forget about history, get a job on “The street” (Wall, that is) and make a million bonus fleecing the multitude, buy any high priced gas guzzler you want!

  8. All these auto immolation anecdotes remind me of that scene in “Casino” when the bomb goes off under Sam Rothstein’s (Robert De Niro’s) car seat and you watch him become enveloped in a curtain of flame in slow motion.
    Frank, you haven’t crossed anybody in the mob, have you? I’m ME, your incident also sounds suspicious; perhaps your loaner was last used by some capo while his caddy was being serviced.

  9. Frank, did you ever go out with Ms. Me? Did you have her start your car on a regular basis? Mr. Roll seems overly informed, where were you, Pork Roll on the night of…
    (I should be asleep, but I refuse to suffer alone)

  10. Ms me — When the smoke started coming out, were you saying “Monday, Wednesday, Saturday”, and did a shadowy figure with a shotgun hotfoot it down the driveway?
    Frank, I’m glad you’re OK. That must have been terrifying. Frankly, I’m more amazed that you weren’t flattened when hopping out onto 280!

  11. How typical of the entitlement generation, something untoward happens so immediately look around for someone to sue.

  12. Thank you so much for your concern! That was a very scary moment and I am so grateful that no one was hurt. I wasn’t stuck in traffic or driving with my grandmother…ect. The Orange Police and Fire Dept handled the situation immediately and perfectly. My car,a Volvo 740, was twenty years old and had almost 300 thousand miles but never the less constantly maintained. The last recent repair was a transmission replacement that apparently didn’t go well. (Bolts rattling everywhere)(the mechanic takes no responsability) In this type of situation, there is no insurance coverage and a lawsuit’s cost would be unreasonable. I think that I just used my car to death and am very very lucky that no one, including me, got hurt.
    So – “Out with the old and in with the new” (I guess!)Happy New Year Everybody!

  13. Who would you sue? You would first have to prove that the fire was caused by damage done during the transmission replacement, and not just old age.

  14. Same to you, Frank GG, and I am very happy you are safe and sound. You’re a very lucky man. I must say I was surprised to see the word Volvo associated with a car explosion. Volvos have consistently proven to be one of the safest cars around. Perplexing.

  15. See – I said it was a Volvo !
    40 years in the car business…PAYS OFF 🙂
    It’s not the Volvo’s fault, and more than likely not the technician’s fault either. Blame the 300,000 miles, the age of the vehicle and the number of parts within it that were either well worn or worn out. Finger pointing is fruitless.

  16. Since 1957 there has been a Lincoln – Mercury Dealership in the heart of Montclair.
    They closed today, at the corner of Valley Road and Blmfd. Ave. 51 years.
    Montclair Lincoln-Mercury is no more.
    From what I understand, remember…. 40 years in the business…. Ford Motor Company yanked the franchise due to…….better stop right there…..

  17. Frank: savvy car buying advice would have you upgrade to something with less than 100,000 miles to avoid these kinds of unusual failures … if you do the math, your $700 upfront budget yields a much more expensive commitment in the long term … spend a little more upfront for a lower-mileage, better-cared-for vehicle and odds are you will avoid costly repairs and breakdowns … if you prefer Volvo sedans, look for a used S60, and get a mechanic to inspect it prior to purchase (not the mechanic that performed your last car’s work!)

  18. OK Sandy. I’ll go for it. WHY did Ford pull the franchise for the Mercury Lincoln dealership at Valley and Bloomfield?
    Remember: this is the same dealership that got the “sweetheart” deal from the town on a “no taxes” parking deck built on town owned land to house the dealership’s cars!
    Are they rethinking that? Will Montclair have an “extra” parking deck? What will Montclair do with it?
    Skateboarders! Pay attention! Your dreams may soon come true!

  19. Thank you Baristas, Miss Marta, Sandy, Bitpusher, croiagusanam, Anne P, PR and all for your well wishes and kind words of support and advice. I appreciate your friendly consern. Thank you Jim for your valuable car advice and I am in now doing something along those lines. I admit to have exaggerated in the use of that car and am now more concerned and aware about safety issues while getting another one. That car was purchased to use for work in NYC and went to my office in traffic and back and forth to building sites every day. Sometimes in a pinch, I would transport chunks of deteriorated building cornices or fragments of rusted spandrel beams, not to mention antiques, books, or items to be salvaged or donated. I also used the car to transport odds and ends, back and forth about a trillion times, when I moved and my mother moved. I would have needed a truck but a low, wide old Volvo , getting 20 mil x gall seemed more useful. Elderly persons could get in and out more easily and if there was a wheel chair, I would just throw it into the back seat. I could also use the Volvo to go to social events because if you squinted hard enough, it could even look like a gentlemanly car – but the parking guys would chuckle because they probably all had better cars than what I drove. Then there was the Microburst and flood I drove through in the Meadowlands last April. Who could really blame that poor car for exploding! It seems to me that friends who have children to drive around everywhere probably have the same volume of exaggerated car use as I am describing so if my recent car episode could have been for a purpose, it is simply for learning the extreme importance of safety.

  20. Ah….Frank….Remind me not to lend you one of my 100-point, trophy winning, concours condition show cars any time soon. Nice to see you in grand spirts after the mishap. Curmudgeon, I believe that they use (or used?) only the very top floor of that parking facility, and I seem to recall that nobody else ever parked way up there.
    Being sued is not a pleasant experience, so….. you’ll have to find out on your own why they lost the L-M franchise.
    BTW, I never bought any of my Lincolns there. I only purchise at Maplecrest L-M on the Union-Maplewood boundry, since 1986. The care & service that I recieve there are truly unbeatable.

  21. Glad you are okay, Frank! But I must ask: when you noticed the smoke and pulled over, how many of our wonderfuly sympathetic Jersey drivers honked their horns at you or flipped you the bird?

  22. Thank you Conan, but believe it or not, there was no traffic, honks or birds! When I pulled over and jumped out, some guys from the bodega at the end of the ramp immediately came to see if I was ok and stayed with me until the Troopers and the Orange Police arrived. While in panic mode, I think of the combination of two mottos..”When you’re a Marine, you are fine until your dead” and “Function in a disaster and finish with style” -(even though I’ve never been a Marine nor enrolled at the Miss Porter’s School) I felt just fine and just a bit shaken up) I was serene because the firemen were calm and quickly did their work and the Police officer sat me down in his car and then eventually helped me to remove what I had left in my car, was friendly, cracked jokes and then took me to a taxi to go home. What was nice about this experience is that everyone asked me if I was ok and wished me a happy holiday none the less.

  23. Well, Sandy, you sound like a very good person to know!
    As to the DCH Parking Lot on Orange, the deal was quite complex.
    But it is my understanding that DCH received a tax abatement for at least 30 years, and is making “payments in lieu” of taxes. This year I believe it was $30,000.
    In any event, there was much discussion on the bottom line as to parking spaces made available to the PUBLIC by this “deal.” The number bandied about was that the public got SEVEN (count them, that’s 7) additional spaces (they already had a bunch before the deck was built).
    The remaining, something like 700 (that’s seven HUNDRED) were to be used for DCH inventory.
    These numbers were widely reported in the press.
    Mind you, now, this space was contributing “nothing” to the town before the deck, and a major Montclair business was given tax relief to make the property productive.
    Such “tax deals” are done all the time, throughtout our country. It’s economic development, plain and simple.

  24. Bought a 1976 dodge sport at a dealer in East Orange, now out of business, Sandy you might remember the name (was at the end of Glenwood on Main Sy). Had a turn up down one summer day, picked the car up and drove to the shopping center when K mart is now,parking the car went inside the store for about 10 minutes. When I came out there was smoke coming from under the hood. The fire dept got to the car about the same time I did, sprayed an extenquisher under the hood. The fireman found a rag on the manifold, gave it to me and told me to go back to the dealer ship with it. The dealer
    had the car examined, cleaned it up, replaced any thing damaged and returned it to me with a “WE are sorry” I was lucky the Fire Dept got there before the car burst into flames.

  25. From Bottom up…
    DeMaio Dodge is the name you are seeking, Ric S.
    Ackme, it’s DCH Imported Cars, and they sell Volvo & Jaguar brands. Rumor mill has it that they might apply for another brand that was recently made available, but you can bet your last dollar, should they get it, there’s gonna be a nice Law Suit.
    There are two brands now open points in Essex County. One would welcome a point here. That’s not the one they are after. They are after the other one, and that will bring on a football team of attorneys!
    Curmudgeon, ain’t no way that DCH Volvo-Jaguar & L-M would ever ever have an inventory of 700 units on the ground. Totally impossible! Cut in half & then divide by 2, and THATS alot.

  26. Brands that have NO representation anywhere within Essex County:
    Volkswagon; Mazda; Lexus; Mitsubishi; Saab; Hyundai; KIA; Suzuki and now Lincoln/Mercury.

  27. Now Volvo is moving into the showrooms with Jaguar, leaving the Volvo building empty. To think of what was torn down (Farrell Bldg)to make way for this ugly eyesore that exist there now.

  28. Now Volvo is moving into the showrooms with Jaguar, leaving the Volvo building empty. To think of what was torn down (Farrell Bldg)to make way for this ugly eyesore that exist there now.

  29. ‘ya, but that’s where they are gonna try & get in _____ !
    Linebacker attorneys are on stand by.

  30. Bring back the Sears store. Furnished an apartment out of there, lugging the stuff down the street with my roommate. When we were done, went to the Sububurbin (what we always called it) to celebrate.

  31. Before I went off to college that corner had the Rolls Royce dealership. Foodfair was across the street and also the Belclair Lanes Bowling Alley. Suburbans was a local hang out bar with a liquor store too.

  32. Sandy,
    What can I tell you…. the plans were for inventory. For DCH. Probably for many of their brands.
    They struck a very good deal for themselves. Can’t say if it was a good deal for the town. Does $30K a year taxes for the garage sound good? And remember, they didn’t have to buy the land. It’s still owned by the town.
    I still can’t tell what brand is being considered. We sure could use a good Mazda dealer, though. It such a good car and the few dealers are quite a ways off.

  33. I gave you a good clue, but I think that you did not see it, scroll back a bit.
    Let’s put it this way…
    On Rt 10 in Livingston, going west, shortly after the Rt. 10 traffic circle (by the big Saturn store) on your right was Warnock Lexus. That location is in Livingston, which is in fact, ESSEX county. However…. they have pretty much vacated that location and built a mega million dollar showplace down the road a piece, for a new Lexus showplace. However, that land is in Whippany. Now, you see….Whippany is in Morris County …. leaving NO Lexus store in Essex County.
    Nexus? Next-US ?
    Mazda. Our son bought a brand new 2007 Mazda 3 Gran Touring Edition with absolutely every option, back in February. Now with 14,000 miles (he drive alot) it’s been a flawless car. He loves it. (Way to tiny for me). (My slogan is “Town Car” or No Car)!
    We bought it at Maxon on Rt 22. Normally a slaughter house, but with me there everything was fine & dandy. There’s only 3 Mazda stores –
    Lodi, Way up the other side of Wayne, and Maxon on Rt 22.
    If ya go there, as for Mike Fisher. He’s a good guy.
    When they take you in to meet the Business Manager – buy NOTHING ! Buy the Car there & buy the $$$ at the bank – if financing.

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