EVERY FD OWNER NEEDS TO READ THIS - Engine Fires! - RX7Club.com - Mazda RX7 Forum

Go Back  RX7Club.com - Mazda RX7 Forum > Generation Specific > 3rd Generation Specific (1993-2002)
Reload this Page >

EVERY FD OWNER NEEDS TO READ THIS - Engine Fires!

3rd Generation Specific (1993-2002) 1993-2002 Discussion including performance modifications and Technical Support Sections.

EVERY FD OWNER NEEDS TO READ THIS - Engine Fires!

Reply

 
 
 
Old 11-07-11, 10:48 AM
  #1  
RX-7 Bad Ass
Thread Starter
iTrader: (50)
 
DaleClark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Pensacola, FL
Posts: 10,721
Thanked 171 Times in 145 Posts
Exclamation EVERY FD OWNER NEEDS TO READ THIS - Engine Fires!

A recent thread on hood liners got me thinking about this, and I think this is something that needs to be shared and discussed.

First off, the FD is quite possibly MORE prone to having a bad engine fire than most other passenger cars. Few good reasons -

- Very hot engine bay with two (or one!) turbos
- Very cramped engine bay with poor ventilation
- Often poor maintenance, with oil, coolant, and even fuel leaks
- Leaks can easily be hidden under the upper intake manifold where they're not obvious.

This has been a problem with the FD from the get-go. Some of the early recalls directly involved preventing engine fires. There was the fuel line recall and the coolant hose recall, both designed to prevent leaks (these parts were updated). Also, the cooling fan recall was a poor attempt to reduce underhood temps to help prevent these situations.

From the hood liner thread, it was supposed that the hood liner on the underside of the hood is supposed to be a "fire suppression blanket" - in case of a fire, the plastic clips holding it up would melt and the liner would fall down and "smother" the fire. THIS IS BUNK. The majority of fires start under the upper intake manifold which is very packed and full of flammable stuff, there's no way that blanket is doing anything there. Also, I personally remember guys on the big RX-7 list back in the mid-90s (when the FD was still pretty new) having engine fires. These cars all had the hood blanket and that didn't help a damn thing.

OK, so we know we have a problem. Here's my 3-part plan to keep your car safe.

1. Get your temps in check. If you still have a precat (really?) get a downpipe now. Even better, get your downpipe ceramic coated, this reduces underhood temps DRAMATICALLY. Get your engine running at a comfortable temperature level, should be 80-90 deg. C, read up on my fan system threads on how to accomplish this.

2. Maintain your car well. If it leaks, fix it. If you see a coolant hose that's getting soft and worn, replace it. Every oil change do a good inspection under the hood, and the big one, look and smell for fuel leaks. You can put a jumper wire in the test connector (jump F/P and GRND) and it will run the fuel pump. Any minor fuel leak will be easy to smell. If you do have a fuel leak, consider the car off the road until it's fixed RIGHT. Oil leaks on turbos are also cause for alarm, especially with single turbo cars. Hot oil on a hot exhaust manifold can light off and start a chain reaction.

3. Carry fire suppression. I can't imagine the feeling of standing on the side of the road, helpless, as my car burns to the ground. I recommend either getting a Halon fire extinguisher (which are available on Ebay) or getting a can of Cold Fire. Cold Fire is an infomercial product, but from some serious searching it is an excellent product and is designed for fuel, oil, and grease fires, which is perfect for an engine bay fire. And it's $20 for 2 cans, that's cheap insurance.

I had a buddy of mine with a modded turbo FC watch his car burn to the ground this weekend. Completely gutted the interior, blew all the windows out, car is a complete write-off. Learn from his lesson.

There was an FD in town about a year ago that caught fire. Fire department was called, the local paper had a video up of it burning. The fire department went to work with AXES and CROWBARS opening the hood and putting the fire out. They don't care about your car AT ALL, they just want to stop the fire.

Guys, this can happen to ANY FD, stock, modified, tons of miles, low miles, well maintained or poorly maintained. There's not enough FD's left as it is, let's not sit by and watch any burn.

Dale
DaleClark is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 10:56 AM
  #2  
rotorhead
iTrader: (3)
 
arghx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: cold
Posts: 15,567
Thanked 38 Times in 38 Posts
Thanks for reminding all of us. Using the fuel pump diagnosis check is a great way to find leaks. You can do it with the intake manifold removed so it's easier to spot.

Besides the pulsation dampener on the stock rail, one thing to watch out for are fittings on stainless steel fuel lines. If you made a mistake in assembling them they will eventually leak.
arghx is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 11:32 AM
  #3  
Snowboarding Whistler!
10 Year Member
iTrader: (24)
 
Fortune_Seven's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Whistler, BC
Posts: 1,285
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for the info Dale! do you have any experience with Cold Fire's coolant additive:

http://www.coldfirecanada.com/category/product/motormax
Fortune_Seven is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 12:19 PM
  #4  
Trackstar motorsport
10 Year Member
iTrader: (8)
 
97SupraTwinTurbo's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: glendale, ca
Posts: 242
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Hot engines + fuel dampener issues + oil leaks = engine fires.
97SupraTwinTurbo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 12:33 PM
  #5  
Needs more seat time
10 Year Member
iTrader: (5)
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 1,940
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Great post i actually had a serious scare the other day.

took my FD to a meet and on the way home i kept smelling burning plastic.i was already almost home so pulled into the garage and saw smoke under the hood. Jumped out the bucket seat with the quickness and got the hood cracked open. a small fire started on my turbo blanket. thankfully it was very small BUT still enough to scare. i was driving hard that night

After let the car cool and getting a closer inspection i had a very very small oil leak. on my turbo feed line and it had leaked onto my blanket.
I have had lot scares but that might of been one of the worst. I literally had a hard time sleeping that night after that.


So make sure you guy's do a through inspection over your fuel and oil line. It's no joke
ihavetwins is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 01:23 PM
  #6  
Junior Member
5 Year Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: va
Posts: 10
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Wow great to know

This is some great info to have as I build my newly acquired fd
araknid01 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 01:41 PM
  #7  
Tunning till I drop!
iTrader: (34)
 
James Paventi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Chatsworth, CA
Posts: 799
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Great advice.

I recently replaced every under hood fuel line, the FPD and carry a Halon extinguisher for this very reason.

I'll have to look into the Cold Fire product.

I'm also a big believer in pressure washing the engine bay to keep it clean. I bought a pressure washer specifically for my first FD. It's now back in use with my second one.
James Paventi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 01:42 PM
  #8  
RX-7 Bad Ass
Thread Starter
iTrader: (50)
 
DaleClark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Pensacola, FL
Posts: 10,721
Thanked 171 Times in 145 Posts
Glad people are reading and taking heed!

On Cold Fire, I did some research to make sure it isn't just some gimmick or whatever. It's actually primarily used by fire fighters in large quantities, they took that and made a consumer version.

I did read an online review (http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/11/...t-of-the-time/) that wasn't from someone selling it and they were pleased with how it works. They did get 2 cans, one of the cans wouldn't spray (defective from factory) so it's a good idea to give a can a quick spurt to make sure it's good upon receipt. Might also be worth testing it once a year.

The commonly available extinguishers at Wal-Mart and whatnot are VERY messy and corrosive. I've seen a few cars that had more damage from the extinguisher than the fire. You really want the best of both worlds, something that will put a fire out quickly and not leave a huge mess.

As stated, Halon is another good alternative. It's not produced any more but there are still plenty of extinguishers out there. It will properly put out an oil/gas fire and not leave a huge mess. They are available on Ebay, prices range all over the place. If you're not sure about Cold Fire, Halon is a tried and tested product. I think it's just not environmentally friendly so it's no longer produced but can be legally used.

Here's a link to buy Cold Fire -

http://coldfireextinguishers.com

There's also an infomercial video, but that stuff DOES work, it's worth watching.

Another thing - the statement IHaveTwins made about his turbo blanket catching fire. Insulating products like header wrap and turbo blankets are porous and if they absorb oil and coolant can become a fire source. I've stated before that I'm not a fan of using header wrap on downpipes, ceramic coating is FAR superior, but that's another issue with header wrap is it is VERY porous, far more so than most turbo blankets.

Dale
DaleClark is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 02:02 PM
  #9  
Common sense ain't common
iTrader: (28)
 
estevan62274's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Melbourne, Fl
Posts: 2,356
Thanked 6 Times in 6 Posts
Thumbs up

Originally Posted by DaleClark View Post
The fire department went to work with AXES and CROWBARS opening the hood and putting the fire out. They don't care about your car AT ALL, they just want to stop the fire.
Come on Dale we're not that bad.... all bets are off when we(FD) show up!

Your a fool if you dont have a fire extinguisher in your vehicle.

Awesome post!
estevan62274 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 02:12 PM
  #10  
Senior Member
5 Year Member
iTrader: (3)
 
sc_frontier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Sherman, Tx
Posts: 266
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Did a search for cold fire on amazon, but found some alternatives. Seems like these cans work great or not at all.
sc_frontier is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 03:12 PM
  #11  
Cav Scout
5 Year Member
iTrader: (4)
 
MazdaSpeedDan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Indiana
Posts: 1,091
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I bought a fire extinguisher at my Px for 12$. Its for cars so comes with a mounting brackets.
MazdaSpeedDan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 03:19 PM
  #12  
Full Member
 
jjoshj's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: NZ
Posts: 79
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Excellent thread. I always carry a fire extinguisher now, just in case. I also just found a oil feed leak to my single. So until I go out and fix that, I won't be driving it!
jjoshj is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 03:27 PM
  #13  
Needs more seat time
10 Year Member
iTrader: (5)
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 1,940
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
It only take a few drips and heat
ihavetwins is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 03:30 PM
  #14  
REPU Garage
iTrader: (17)
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Northern Colorado
Posts: 623
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Great thread, I personally found it ironic because I was just browsing fire extinguishers and mounting brackets for my FD on eBay last night.

A word of cation, however, is be smart when a fire breaks out in your car! Your safety is number 1, not trying to save the car. I only mention this because I had a friend who received 3rd degree burns and no longer has full function of his left hand/wrist because he tried to pop the hood on his Supra when it caught on fire, just so he could put it out and save his car (he had a good extinguisher). And when the hood did open, the fire swept up immediately and caught his jacket on fire. Luckily he was able to get out of the jacket without much injury but you need to be careful.
Turbo8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 03:34 PM
  #15  
Senior Member
5 Year Member
iTrader: (1)
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Space Coast Florida
Posts: 399
Thanks: 0
Thanked 2 Times in 1 Post
Originally Posted by DaleClark View Post
Glad people are reading and taking heed!

On Cold Fire, I did some research to make sure it isn't just some gimmick or whatever. It's actually primarily used by fire fighters in large quantities, they took that and made a consumer version.

I did read an online review (http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/11/...t-of-the-time/) that wasn't from someone selling it and they were pleased with how it works. They did get 2 cans, one of the cans wouldn't spray (defective from factory) so it's a good idea to give a can a quick spurt to make sure it's good upon receipt. Might also be worth testing it once a year.

Here's a link to buy Cold Fire -

http://coldfireextinguishers.com

Dale
Thanks Dale - have you seen an MSDS for it? I can't seem to find one....

Edit I found it from a third party... Attached FYI
http://www.coldfirefl.com/MSDS.html
ttmott is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 04:00 PM
  #16  
RX-7 Bad Ass
Thread Starter
iTrader: (50)
 
DaleClark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Pensacola, FL
Posts: 10,721
Thanked 171 Times in 145 Posts
Did some more research on it, Cold Fire has been used by race teams (Indy in particular) for many years. Many first responders are adopting it as well.

Good point on popping the hood, it really depends on how far the fire has gone. If you can pop the hood where it's up and ready to open, it's likely worth it to spray up under the hood before opening the hood fully. But, in a situation like that, you're likely gonna do what you're gonna do .

Regardless, PREVENTING a fire in the first place is always the smartest measure. An extinguisher is there to cover your bases in case the absolute worst happens.

Dale
DaleClark is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 05:27 PM
  #17  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 10
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Great thread. I was at the track when a turbo oil feed line on an FC blew and caused a fire. Luckily there was minimal damage but it opened my eyes as to the dangers of car fires.
foltzs13 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 05:31 PM
  #18  
Full Member
iTrader: (5)
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Orange County
Posts: 105
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
wow, that's dangerous i gotta look into this
PierRX is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 05:47 PM
  #19  
In the Garage
5 Year Member
iTrader: (2)
 
oo7arkman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Central FL
Posts: 1,406
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
This is a good thread that reiterates a very serious problem on our FD's as well as a lot of modified cars. Personally I cannot fathom the feeling of absolute helplessness standing there watching my car burn the the ground. I have carried an extinguisher in the car for years. And if I have just made a fuel/oil line adjustment I have a large one nearby during the test for leaks. Better safe than sorry...

It is a good point on opening the hood. If you had a big leak and therefore have a large fire, when you open the hood you just add massive amounts of air to the fire and could end up with a couple lungs full of flames. <--This can kill you VERY quickly.

Really at the end of the day it all comes down to what Dale mentioned. Good maintenance and during routine maintenance checking for any leaks. After that, there is really nothing you can do is be prepared and hope for the best if something goes wrong.
oo7arkman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 08:52 PM
  #20  
Batman
 
Matt535's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Posts: 53
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
As I stated in the other thread about the under hood insulation mats, I had a fire in my 1970 Mopar (an Australian-only built car you guys did not get in the USA). I retell this often, because I dont want anyone else to have to watch their car go up in flames or be killed through a serious fire.

I had an Optima red top battery in the car. I had spent about $25-30,000.00 on the car over a period of about 10 years of ownership. Everything was factory fresh, and everything was modified. It was the love of my life. However the one thing I did not modify or upgrade was the positive battery cable. Because it looked to be fine. It rubbed on the firewall and caused a dead short. The Optima fused the cable to the firewall, and the heat started an electrical fire in the wiring. I had flames come out of the face-level dashboard vents, in the plenum chamber, and out the sides of the hood gap. I grabbed the extinguisher and stupidly tried to open the hood. But luckily for me, I could not get it open because it was too hot for my hands, and flames were licking up out of the hood release catch. Had I opened it, I think a fireball would have engulfed me.

I had killed the electric fuel pump with the kill switch before I exited the car, but the wiring loom melted and fused back together, and the pump was re-energized by another circuit. It started pumping raw fuel into the engine bay, and the fuel lines softened and burst, and the fire became more intense. I used all of the 1kg extinguisher and then had to sit on the side of the road and watch it go up in flames for about 10 minutes before the fire department could get there. The car wasnt insured, and it was heavily damaged.

Dale is right. The FD is more susceptible to engine bay fires, as the temps are very high due to the rotary + turbo equation. And there is a lot of flammable material in the engine bay. A lot of plastic. A lot of rubber. A lot of the fuel and coolant hoses can leak, and they are buried under masses of other hoses. You would never see the leak until you noticed smoke.
The coolant lines that run across the top of the block (under the rats nest) can leak at their joints. The water will boil out of the leaked coolant and leave a thick green sticky goo, which becomes flammable without water. And a fire starts. The oil lines can leak near the turbochargers. The FPR can leak. There is a multitiude of ignition points that are hidden and hard to access.

After my Chrysler burnt down, I installed a good fire extinguisher in my FD. I mounted it in the passengers side footwell (drivers side in the USA). This was a stupid mistake, as the rear brake line and fuel lines run under the floor in this location. I stupidly did not check this and drilled through the rear brake line while mounting the bracket to the floor. Fortunately I had heaps of spare brake lines, and it only took half an hour on the hoist to pull the drilled one out, and replace it with a new brake line and fix up my bracket mounting so it would not touch any of the lines. That was my silly mistake, but hey we all learn from mistakes... At least I now have a fire extinguisher in my FD.
Matt535 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 10:05 PM
  #21  
Stock boost FTW!
iTrader: (21)
 
Project88Turbo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Salisbury, MD
Posts: 909
Thanked 23 Times in 18 Posts
Great thread! As I am slowly rebuilding my project FD I have been taking all the steps I can to increase its reliability and safety. All coolant and fuel lines replaced, FC thermoswitch, Pettit AST, CSP Aluminum radiator, cleaned injectors with new orings and grommets, etc.

It would be a shame for all that hard work and money to go up in smoke.

As far as HALON extinguishers are concerned, they are probably the best choice for the job of putting out an automotive fire. The only problem is it is an ozone depleting chemical, and no longer readily available.

HALOTRON is its replacement, as R134a is to R12 in AC systems. It is readily/cheaply available, and is used in many racing car fire supression systems.

One thing to consider: If you have $1,000's under your hood and many $1,000's in the car itself, it would be a wise investment to install a fire supression system similar to what is used in NASCAR. FIREBOY is one of several systems available and are relatively inexpensive. Typically $350-700 depending on size and number of nozzles, the bottle is mounted in the cabin with the release button and the nozzles are located in the engine bay and usually one sprays under the cars at the exhaust. The delivery system and nozzles are very similarly sized to a nitrous system, so you could ideally place a nozzle where it would spray under the UIM and have another pointed at the turbos. Depending on how long it takes you to realize there is a fire and react to it, you can really mitigate a lot of the damage a fire can cause, hopefully prevent a total loss of the vehicle and more importantly improve YOUR safety.

Vince
Project88Turbo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 10:44 PM
  #22  
Tunning till I drop!
iTrader: (34)
 
James Paventi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Chatsworth, CA
Posts: 799
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Matt535 View Post
I had an Optima red top battery in the car. I had spent about $25-30,000.00 on the car over a period of about 10 years of ownership. Everything was factory fresh, and everything was modified. It was the love of my life. However the one thing I did not modify or upgrade was the positive battery cable. Because it looked to be fine. It rubbed on the firewall and caused a dead short. The Optima fused the cable to the firewall, and the heat started an electrical fire in the wiring. I had flames come out of the face-level dashboard vents, in the plenum chamber, and out the sides of the hood gap. I grabbed the extinguisher and stupidly tried to open the hood. But luckily for me, I could not get it open because it was too hot for my hands, and flames were licking up out of the hood release catch. Had I opened it, I think a fireball would have engulfed me.
I've seen several battery relocations that didn't include a fuse or circuit breaker. It seems that most of the relocation kits don't include the fuse and I would guess this is why it isn't common practice.

It's really a necessity though. Put it on the positive cable, right next to the battery. Any short down the line will blow the fuse or trip the breaker rather than generating a ton of heat and a possible fire.
James Paventi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 11:30 PM
  #23  
the REAL deal
10 Year Member
iTrader: (2)
 
Meiogirl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: South Bay
Posts: 989
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Has anyone stored Coldfire in your car? Cars can get up to 200F inside. The storage recommendations on the website are 32F-120F.


I have a Kidde Kitchen Fire Extinguisher, I have not used it but it claims to be no mess and good for oil and grease fires. I am pretty sure fire extinguishers are good up to 350F.

Can anyone verify?
Meiogirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-11, 11:58 PM
  #24  
SideWayZ The Only Way
iTrader: (11)
 
FD3S2005's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Davie, Florida
Posts: 4,842
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
thanks for that cold fire info, didnt know it worked that well. but like meio said for thos people who store their car outside or if driven the car to somewhere on a hot day and left in the heat. what could become of the cold fire can?
FD3S2005 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-11, 02:38 PM
  #25  
Drive to Live
10 Year Member
 
wolf_9782's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: texas
Posts: 349
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
thank you very much Dale for the friendly reminder, i had been thinking about fire prevention lately! i had found a fuel leak on fuel rail as well as an oil leak on the turbo feed line. i kept the car parked until i fixed both issues. now everything is tip top! i was thinkin of gettin a fire extinguisher, but ill give that cold fire stuff a try. great thread, i hope many others take heed to this.
wolf_9782 is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Quick Reply: EVERY FD OWNER NEEDS TO READ THIS - Engine Fires!


Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.