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1998 Honda Accord EX V6 strong fumes smell passenger's side under car (slight white smoke), then flames

So, at one point, I started smelling a strong fumes-like smell as I was driving down the road… it seemed it was worse when standing (of course, the smoke/fumes prob came from below the car directly to the inside of the car) I was not sure if it was gas or what, perhaps not, but it was a strong smell… I think it got me kind of dizzy. Sometimes it happened, some times it didn’t. I took it to the mechanic and they said something I couldn’t understand (never took it there again) and they said something was falling on the exhaust (not sure if it was the manifold) and they wiped it clean. After that, I didn’t smell fumes again for a couple of weeks, but it then started again. I drove like this for months, but lately, I did notice more and more white smoke was there and the smell was stronger.

I had the car idling for a bit, suddenly I saw a bit of darker smoke, opened the hood and saw small flames!!! Holy ****. I quickly got the hose and poured cold water (I know it’s not the best… I didn’t have an extinguisher nearby) and got rid of the fire. The flames were on the back of the engine, deep inside… and the smell seems to come from there.

So, the car has been sitting there for a while… no way I’m turning it on. LOL

Here is some background:

  • THe catalytic converter has needed replacement for 1-2 years.
  • The car overheated once due to a faulty radiator fan (it overheated whenever I turned on the AC) I replaced the fan, problem was resolved.

Could it be that the overheating incident burned some gaskets or what not and this may have lead to something to leak, something flammable, fall on the hot part of the manifold or area where the exhaust begins and caused the flames/fire? If so, what flammable liquid could it be?

Any advise or recommendation(s) on this will be greatly appreciated.
I’m not sure if I should just dispose of the car and get a nused one (the car drives well)… it would depend on the repairing costs.x

Thank you.

From your description, it sounds like it is oil leaking from a valve cover and dripping on the exhaust manifold. If a mechanic tells you something you don’t understand, tell him and ask him to explain it in plain English.

Just in case it is gasoline leaking, get the car looked at right away mm that is very dangerous. Neither of these are reason to get rid of a good driving car.


Ask friends , relatives or coworkers for names of shops that they would use again . Or check online reviews of shops near you. Spend about 125.00 for a diagnostic to see what this vehicle really needs. Just say that you need to approve any work before it is done . After you get a estimate of the cost only you can decide if it is worth it.

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