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Old 07-07-2013, 08:27 AM   #1
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So, after towing our 2011 Kia Soul for over 23,000 miles over a two year period it caught fire while being towed and burned to the ground. We've never had any problems towing it since it was a manual transmission it was a simple hook and go. No fuses to pull, no pre-tow setup, just the easiest flat tow you could find. But on July 1 something went really bad as we were headed North on I-25 between Pueblo and Fountain Colorado. We had gone 425 miles the day before and not touched the Kia for the night. That morning we went about 200 miles at our normal 65 mph when I noticed a whisp of smoke from the grill in my review camera. I immediately took Exit 116 which happened to be right there. When I got stopped flames were coming out of the grill. My son-inlaw who was traveling with us and I went into emergency mode, he grabbing the extra set of car keys and I the fire extinguisher. By the time I got to the front of the car the radiator fan assembly dropped to the pavement in a molten blob. The fire was directly behind the radiator and the hood release would not pop the hood, making the extinguisher worthless. Note attempting to blow the extinguisher thru a radiator is non-effective. At that point I realized we were going to loose it so now it became a get it off the motor home and get as much of our stuff out as possible task. I dropped the tow bar while the son-inlaw worked at getting as much out as possible and we worked like lightning getting it done. Once disconnected and pulled away it only took about 5 minutes and the Kia was totally engulfed. Note, always tow with a full tank of fuel, much safer. It took the fire department over 30 minutes to get there and at that point it was a clean up.

I'm thinking we had an electrical short in the radiator fan area since that was definitely the hottest spot to begin with.



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So, now we are in the market for a new toad :-(
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Old 07-07-2013, 09:39 AM   #2
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sorry for your loss. Glad you were able to salvage all you did and no one got hurt.
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Old 07-07-2013, 10:29 AM   #3
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WOW! Sorry to hear. Good you saw it early! Glad everyone is ok.
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Old 07-07-2013, 11:23 AM   #4
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One of the things I do is shoot my tires and brakes with an IR gun every time I stop.

A dragging brake would produce a lot of heat and hopefully I would catch that before a problem.

Have you asked a KIA dealer about any reported fires?
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Old 07-07-2013, 12:45 PM   #5
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Sorry to hear about your loss. I don't know why the radiator fan circuit would have electricity in tow mode. Were there any tow harness diodes under the hood? Is there a wire from MH battery to towed battery? I think you'll have to search elsewhere for the cause.
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Old 07-07-2013, 03:25 PM   #6
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No charge line from MoHo. Fire did not start at any one of the four corners so not a brake issue. I'd like to see a wiring diagram because it would seem unusual for a short with the key turned off, on older vehicles, but on today's cars and trucks there are many things hot even with the key off. Hence Ford F150 fires where the truck had not been started in days.

Now it is a possibility that the tow lighting circuit from the MoHo to the bulbs in the Kia's tail lights shorted, it's a possibility.
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Old 07-07-2013, 03:52 PM   #7
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That's too bad. Lucky you got things out and nothing else got destroyed and no-one was hurt. If you were Canadian, I'd be thinking that's some kinda Canada Day fireworks.

There could be a design/construction flaw. Google came up with this:

Kia Sorrento catches fire on dealer lot - YouTube

Google Image Result for http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4017/4432637515_c594f0fb87.jpg

Kia recalls Soul, Sorentos over fire hazard - CBC News
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:58 AM   #8
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Terry,
Consider that in your emergency procedures you were very lucky. I have understood from some videos that I have seen that if a car is catching on fire to back away and either let it burn or let the fire fighters take care of it. If it goes boom, there is serious injury.

However, I think I would have done the same thing in the same circumstances. Getting it away from the MH would be my biggest concern.

Glad you are all safe. Material things can be replaced.
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Old 07-08-2013, 06:36 PM   #9
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Is it possible the radiator fan was free wheeling from turbulence from the motorhome and a bearing in the fan or fan clutch went bad and overheated, causing a fire? Sounds crazy but you never know....
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:27 PM   #10
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Varmints chewing on the wires at night, then road vibration caused it/them to short?
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Old 07-09-2013, 11:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baraff View Post
Is it possible the radiator fan was free wheeling from turbulence from the motorhome and a bearing in the fan or fan clutch went bad and overheated, causing a fire? Sounds crazy but you never know....
Possible, however you would think that if a bearing went bad just turbulence wouldn't be enough to turn a bad bearing, but I've found you can never say never... oops, there you go I used never :-)
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Old 07-09-2013, 11:19 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Varmints chewing on the wires at night, then road vibration caused it/them to short?
Very plausible, to use an often used Myth Busters term. To me, the fact that the fan assembly was so hot as to drop out on the pavement in a melted blob and yet the paint on the hood was not blistered yet makes me think it was the hottest point first.
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Old 07-09-2013, 11:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Terry,
Consider that in your emergency procedures you were very lucky. I have understood from some videos that I have seen that if a car is catching on fire to back away and either let it burn or let the fire fighters take care of it. If it goes boom, there is serious injury.

However, I think I would have done the same thing in the same circumstances. Getting it away from the MH would be my biggest concern.

Glad you are all safe. Material things can be replaced.
I knew there was danger, but the greater danger was the entire combination of both vehicles going up was greater. I knew the fuel tank of the Kia was full lessening the danger significantly. I'm aware that many won't agree with me on this one issue, however the fact is it didn't go boom. Once the fire got to the gas shocks in the bumpers we were standing at a safe distance watching it burn. Those gas shocks might be more dangerous than the fuel tank.
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Old 07-10-2013, 11:25 AM   #14
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It could have been the transmission overheating. Just being a manual tranny doesn't guarantee it is towable, especially for front drives. They may still rely on plumped or splashing fluid to keep the internal lubricated and cool.

Related to that, I had a Ford front drive stickshift that overheated and burned out due to hydraulic fluid loss. I didn't even know it had hydraulic fluid in it! Turned out a slow leak caused enough fluid loss that it was overheating as I drove it and it finally gave out.
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