The Bimmer that Burned

What I Learned When My Car Caught On Fire.

I love BMW sedans made in the early 2000s. Growing up, I thought the 3-Series of that era were the most beautiful cars in the world.  Last summer, I saw a 5-speed on the car lot of one of our clients EXACTLY like the ones I had admired for years, AND it was a bargain price. It goes without saying that I bought the car almost immediately.

Incredibly excited to be driving this sleek sports car, I picked it up on my lunch break, and dreamed of driving it all afternoon. After going back to work, it felt like the day would never end, but finally 4:30 p.m. came, and I raced out of the office to the parking lot to my new car! I rolled the windows down and turned up the stereo as I drove for five glorious miles.

At mile number six, the car started jerking, and the electrical systems lights came on and off. The jerking continued and, despite shifting into different gears, I pulled over and walked around the car looking for the trouble. I could not believe what I saw!  Small flames were licking out from around the battery compartment, right next to the gas line (BMW often places the battery of the car in the trunk).

I called 911 as I watched in shock while the flames continued to increase in size. My bumper started to melt, dripping molten plastic onto the ground, and I retreated in horror thinking my gas tank was in danger of exploding. Fortunately, a bystander had a fire extinguisher and used it to quickly quench the flames. My car was totaled, but thanks to good insurance, and the good character of the car dealer, I am once again driving my dream car, albeit a different one.

What have I learned from this crazy experience?

  • If your car is acting in a way that seems odd to you, find a safe spot to pull off the road as quickly as possible. Your car runs a much lower risk of further damage when it is turned off
  • Keep a small fire extinguisher in your car
  • Carrying comprehensive insurance is a wonderful way to protect the investment of your vehicle

Comprehensive insurance pays for all covered causes of loss to a car, such as fire, theft, hail and many other perils, other than collision.

James Dick, CPCU, AAI