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2004 Pontiac Grand AM

Hi everyone.

I own a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am. I was using my car lighter when my car started filling with smoke very fast. I could not breathe. I was getting on the freeway. I used my horn to try to get help, but it did not work, not even the windows. I was very very scared.

I had just met my aunt for coffee. She was in front of me in her car and had no clue as to what was happening to me. I prayed and tried again to see if the windows would come down again. Then I took off my seat belt and opened the car doors and got away from the car.

I found out that a fuse to the lighter melted in the fuse box and set off the horn. Now the darned horn worked and kept beeping and blowing.
Then a man saw I needed help. He made sure the car was safe and opened the hood of the car and opened the fuse box to find the fuse melted and was broken in half. Now the engine light and the service light are on and some other things are going on. It took me some time to get myself together because of what had happened.

I took it back to the dealer to tell them what just happened to me. They did not even care or offer me a glass of water. I asked them if there were any recalls or issues. They said no, and I would have to pay them to see what is wrong.

I am so upset. I need to find a tech in Modesto who can help me. Can anyone tell me why this would happen.? I thank God that I am alive…

Thanks for all your help.

I really need to find a Tech IN Modesto.I am getting the run around with all the companies.I even called the fire dept,the BBB ,nhtsa,cpsc I dont feel safe anymore.

I have contacted the Att general’s office, pontiac, general motors.I paid this car off in full. How can these companies get away with all this crap…

I really don’t know how to use this site…

Stuff happens, it sounds like something shorted out probably with the cig lighter circuit. There is cause and effect, probably the cig lighter has a short that caused the problem. I sincerely doubt there is a recall issue that applies but this site might help. http://recalls.gov/
Most mechanics should be able to solve the problem, Here is a link to mechanics on this web site. http://www.cartalk.com/content/mechanics-files

This would make me have to replace the wires and the whole fuse box

The light in the dash doesn’t work. The brake lights don’t work. The radio doesn’t work. The wires under the dash are all melted.

My car is still parked. I need to find a Tech who I can Trust here In Modesto.

I am looking for a Pontiac tech in Modesto who can check my car to tell me what is really wrong with it.

Strange things can happen to an eight year old car. If you are considering this to be a manufacturing defect, it is happening about seven and a half years too late to be considered that. That is why the dealership and General Motors are giving you the cold shoulder treatment. For the record, I have only seen things like this happen a few times, and only had it happen to one of my personal vehicles once. Your best bet for getting this fixed will be to get references from friends, family, coworkers, auto parts store clerks (they generally know most of the mechanics in the area), etc. to find a shop with a good electrical guy or gal. This probably originated as a short circuit or bad ground. Either way, a good electrical troubleshooter can figure it out in short order.

What do you mean by getting personal references and that they know the mechanics in the area? I don’t have a lot of miles on this 8 year old car that I paid off and love and almost killed me. I was told I could get good info on this site, but I don’t think that this is going to happen…I was hoping to find a tech without having to put out a lot of money to the dealer that I don’t have to fix this car. Thanks…

Sorry to hear about your car problems, but I am happy you were not injured or ended up in the hospital or worse.  

*&^#$ happens.  It happens to your car, your home …..   It's life.  Some of us are lucky and have few serious problems and others have many.

Even though the situation was scary, the advice you’re getting from others is correct. Things do break on a car of this age, which is why you’re unlikely to get any help from the attorney general or the manufacturer. A good local mechanic or auto electrical shop should be able to figure out what happened and fix it.

I’m going to reiterate this once again: this car does not need to go to the dealership to have this problem fixed, and a local mechanic or auto electric shop can fix it for less (probably a lot less) than the dealership will. I also want to reiterate that if you know of nobody to ask for advice on where to go in your community to get your car fixed, try an auto parts store like AutoZone, Carquest, NAPA, Advance Auto Parts, etc. Those counter guys and especially the managers of those stores know the local shops and the people who work there. The reason they do is because those mechanics and shops buy a lot of parts from them. They talk to them and see the inside of the shops on a daily basis, so this can be a very reliable way to find a good shop. I don’t think any of the regulars on this forum live in or near Modesto, so we are not likely to be able to give you any community specific advice.

Why don’t you just take the car to a mechanic and ask him to fix it?

Check your fuses. There are a lot of “Chinese” fuses out there that simply will not blow. They just melt in place. Have your mechanic check them out. Another possibility (I see it all the time) is that the fuse was replaced with a higher rated fuse. A 30 amp fuse in a 10 amp slot will probably never blow. The Chinese fuses look like this with no markings other than the rating. Just click picture for a larger view:

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I had a similar problem with a 1971 Ford Maverick not long after I bought it in 1973. As I was coming home the car began to fill with smoke. I pulled in the driveway and quickly disconnected the battery cable. I waited a couple of hours and carefully reconnected the battery cable and everything seemed o.k. We then took a ride in the car and my wife smelled something burning. I reached down and touched the ashtray and it was very hot. I carefully opened the ashtray and was greeted by a shower of sparks. The cigarette lighter that I didn’t use was in the ashtray and somehow the element was making contact intermittently. I yanked the lighter out of the socket and, for good measure, disconnected the cigarette lighter.
A cigarette lighter draws quite a bit of current and the circuit is protected by a high amperage fuse. Find a shop the specializes in electrical work, tell them what happened and let them take it from there. Your problem probably isn’t all that serious.

Chula, first try to understand that your car is at an age where it is no longer reasonable to expect to hold the manufacturer or the dealer that sold it to you responsible for anything that happens. Even ig that “anything” turns out to be a short circuit, which is apparently what happened to yours. Contacting the agencies that you contacted is futile.

To find a shop in your area, simply ask everyone you know who they use and who they recommend. A name should pop up. Then expect to pay a diagnostic fee (probably around $100) which, should you choose to have them do the work, will likely be waived or absorbed into the entire repair cost.

I know it’s tough having no money (believe me, I KNOW!!!), but you simply have to accept the cost of repairing this if you expect to get the car back on the road.

By the way, kudos for getting out of and away from the car. You did the right thing. Safety comes first, then repair.

So my 2004 pontiac grand am is burning coolant there is no leak in the heating system changed the thermostat can’t find a leak need help