Prius Caught on Fire

Discussion in 'Gen 4 Prius Main Forum' started by Kremtok, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    90,846
    40,816
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    i phones, they're on priuschat.
     
    m.wynn, RCO, krmcg and 2 others like this.
  2. Kremtok

    Kremtok Smug Alert!

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    100
    73
    0
    Location:
    Homer, Alaska
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    Your situation looks oddly similar to mine, but my car was way too new for corrosion to be a factor. Hmm.
     
    RCO likes this.
  3. MrMischief

    MrMischief Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    426
    440
    0
    Location:
    Denver CO
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Fixed it for you. Did you have dielectric grease on the prongs?

    Actually, does anyone on here have their block heater plug covered in dielectric grease? If not, you may want to take a scotchbrite pad to it to clean up any corrosion and give it a good sloppy coating of dielectric grease found at any parts store.
     
    RCO and DGH like this.
  4. DGH

    DGH Thread Terminator

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    363
    92
    0
    Location:
    Wales, WI
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Excellent point, SOP on all things electrical here.:D
     
    #44 DGH, Jan 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
  5. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    42,028
    30,121
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Is dielectric grease good on cord connections? I'm not automatically disputing it, just wondering. I've used thin application of dielectric grease on the prongs, and have vague recollection the extension cord started heating up, blackening the contacts at end.

    Not completely sure on this. Maybe clean connection best bet?
     
  6. MrMischief

    MrMischief Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    426
    440
    0
    Location:
    Denver CO
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    The clean connection is what you want, but it will corrode quickly. So either keep a scotch brite pad handy to clean the connection every time or apply dielectric grease to protect it. Dielectric is going to keep moisture out from corroding your terminals, but it's not conductive so it won't cause an arc, it also does not break down due to any heat that may build up. The contact pressure should be enough to penetrate the grease making for a solid connection. If you were experiencing heat build up my first guess is you don't have a positive connection for some reason. Old extension cord, misaligned prongs, or way too much dielectric that it could not make a solid connection through contact pressure are my first guesses.

    Maybe there is a better product out there that I'm not aware of. I know audiophiles use some kind electrical contact grease that ensure a positive electrical connection while preventing corrosion, however I don't know how it would hold up to sitting out in the elements getting moisture, salt, magchloride and who knows what else on it. Also if you put a large blob of electrical contact grease across both terminals, or the grease heats up and flows in a way that the grease touches ground you've just shorted your circuit.
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  7. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    42,028
    30,121
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Thanks for the explanation. Yeah, I just turfed that extension cord, no problems since. Our car's garage stored, nice and dry; that might help too.
     
  8. Kremtok

    Kremtok Smug Alert!

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    100
    73
    0
    Location:
    Homer, Alaska
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    Thanks for the fix...I think. No, I do not use dielectric grease, nor do I think that it's necessary.

    /////

    Today the fire investigators completed their examination. They state that it's clearly the first couple of feet of the block heater cord from the connection point at the grille into the engine bay. The puddled remains were collected with the extension cord still embedded, along with the timer. They will be sent to a lab for testing along with new parts that were bought at the hardware store today. Specifically they want to see if the prongs are still in the end of the extension cord and that will require an x-ray.

    Since it was brought up earlier, the extension cord was 12AWG and the timer was rated to 10A at 125VAC, so both were fully capable of handling the expected load. We tested the circuit breaker and it did trip, and the timer shows that happened around 45 minutes after the power came on.

    Now it's just a waiting game. It will take up to a few months for the complete report to be finished and I hope to get a copy from the insurance company. Once I hear more, I'll share more information with you all here.
     
    Prodigyplace, m.wynn, Zythryn and 5 others like this.
  9. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    42,028
    30,121
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    It was outside, or in garage?
     
  10. RCO

    RCO Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2016
    3,709
    5,170
    0
    Location:
    Cornwall
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Both! According to OP it was in a detached garage. :sneaky:
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  11. Kremtok

    Kremtok Smug Alert!

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    100
    73
    0
    Location:
    Homer, Alaska
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    It was inside the garage.
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  12. mfa-prius

    mfa-prius Old member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    299
    45
    1
    Location:
    Hansville, WA
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    Five
    Did you ever get the report? If it really was "the first couple of feet of the block heater cord from the connection point at the grille into the engine bay", I really wonder what would cause that. About the only thing that makes sense is that maybe the block heater cord wasn't installed properly, and got pinched a couple of feet into the car, which generated a low-resistance, but not-completely-short circuit, short enough to heat up the block heater cordset (which is rated for 10A on my brand-new block heater - probably AWG 18), but not short enough to trip the breaker. A 6.5 ohm "short", for example, would allow 18.5A to flow, which would be OK for the CB (probably 20A), the extension cord (12AWG is good for 25A), and the timer, but not so OK for the EBH cordset.

    I'm about to install a heater (Toyota p/n PU140-00913, now the same p/n for all Toyota models and years), and wonder if I should think twice. (My garage isn't detached :(.)

    After thinking twice, I see my EBH measures 35.3 ohms, consistent with the "400W 115VAC" cast into the heater itself. I think I will make up a "special" extension cord for the EBH with an in-line 5A fuse, just in case. I will also, just for fun, run 18.5A through a piece of 18AWG zip cord and see how hot it gets. Finally, I was going to install it myself, but should I have the dealer do it (to offload the liability for a bad install), or not (to make sure it's done right)?
     
    RCO likes this.
  13. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    42,028
    30,121
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    My situation in past: I'll forget to unplug, BH cord gets pulled out a bit (unnoticed) and drags on the road, abrading the plug prongs. Repair by cutting off the plug and splice/solder in another, cut off a short extension cord.

    If the splicing of the three wires isn't sufficiently staggered, or poorly connected, or poorly insulated, there could be problems. Maybe something like that happened.
     
    #53 Mendel Leisk, Jan 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    RCO likes this.
  14. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    11,516
    11,078
    0
    Location:
    Central Virginia
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Remember the Gen 4 has active grill shutters. I hope they did not damage the cord.
    There was another user who had to reroute the dealer installed EBH cord to avoid the shutters.
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  15. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    11,516
    11,078
    0
    Location:
    Central Virginia
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    The OP was the one that rerouted the cable. He found it due to a shutter error. Perhaps the cable got damaged before it was rerouted.
    See Grille Shutter Inoperative and Check Engine | PriusChat
     
  16. Kremtok

    Kremtok Smug Alert!

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    100
    73
    0
    Location:
    Homer, Alaska
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    That's the prevailing theory right now, but we won't know for sure until the lab testing is complete and that will take some time.
     
    alanclarkeau likes this.
  17. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    11,516
    11,078
    0
    Location:
    Central Virginia
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    That would point to dealer installation or port installation error.
     
  18. MrMischief

    MrMischief Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    426
    440
    0
    Location:
    Denver CO
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    So what are you doing for a car now then? Did insurance pay you out and you're going car shopping or are you just riding that sweet sweet Triumph around in the Alaskan winter. That displacement bump to 765cc makes me want to run out and buy a new Street Triple....
     
    Kremtok, RCO and Mendel Leisk like this.
  19. SKOOBARU

    SKOOBARU New Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2016
    4
    3
    0
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    ohh wow, So whats gonna happen to the car ? that sucks


    iPhone ?
     
  20. Kremtok

    Kremtok Smug Alert!

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    100
    73
    0
    Location:
    Homer, Alaska
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    Insurance is still working on things. I hope to buy a new vehicle by next weekend, because until then the family and I are on foot. Insurance only covers 80% of a rental and it's not worth my share, which works out to be $30/day. I'm getting a Tacoma now and we'll order another Prius once the finances have worked out and everything is back to 100%.

    Sadly there's a bit too much ice on the road for the bike.

    Even more sadly, it was very badly smoke damaged. That's really what I'm most bummed about; my STRX is the only one in Alaska.

    Totaled. It's currently shrink wrapped at a storage facility, preserved as evidence should this end up in litigation.
     
Loading...