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Car damaged by a forest fire?

Cartalkers, help!

Two weeks ago my wife and I were backpacking near Mt Adams in Washington state, and as we lay in our tent during our last night, we were awakened by a notably large thunderstorm. The next morning we began hiking back to the trailhead where we had parked our car, only to find the that thunderstorm had started a forest fire in the exact area to which we were heading!

To avoid the fire, we were evacuated off the mountain by taking another route out, but the fire cut-off access to the area we parked our car.

Our car, a 2007 Corolla S, sat at the trailhead with 10 other cars while the fire slowly burned closer and closer. Beginning several miles away, the fire eventually burned over the trailhead parking lot (and our car). Nevertheless, two weeks later the Forest Service was able to drive the cars down from the trailhead and back into the nearby town.

When we picked-up our car, they reported that there didn’t appear to be damaged, but that two of the cars had noticeable damage (melted parts along the body) and that one car was completely destroyed. When returned home, I surveyed for damage, but to my amateur eye, I didn’t notice anything on the outside of the car or anything burned/melted under the hood.

Here’s my question: did the fire damage my car? If so, how, where and what should I check for damage?

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!
Ryan

I’d take it to a Toyota dealer and have them inspect it, it would be worth it to me to have somebody that’s very familliar with Corollas look at it because they’re looking for something out of the ordinary, not trying to solve a specific problem. No odor issues in the interior?

If you were unable to find anything melted and it’s running fine, that you’re fine. Plastics in the interiora and under the hood would be the first things likely to sustain heat damage. You might want to change your fluids and filters, including your brake fluid and belts, just as a procaution, but IMHO you can feel safe.

You owe a debt of gratitude to the Forest Service. I’d at the very least write a letter to the paper thanking them.

Consult your insurance company. They may advise you to take it to a body shop and give it a once over, or send someone out to look at it.

If the plastic parts, tires, windows weren’t damaged, and the car runs as before, I expect you are good to go. No harm asking your mechanic/insurance company to take a look though.

except that in some cases, merely inquiring about a possible claim will put a ding on your insurance record and may cause raised rates for years.

Honestly, if the car’s driving fine, and nothing’s melted or burned on it, it suffered no damage.

The steering wheel cover and the dash pad would the first things to show heat damage, along with the tops of the back seats…Check the sidewalls of the tires for any signs of blistering or other heat damage…

Yeah I think I would just have a dealer look it over. But really if the plastic is all good and the tank didn’t ignite, and no paint damage, it couldn’t have gotten that hot. You might find your headliner will sag sooner than otherwise but guess I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m not a big fan of running to the insurance agent but this would be considered an act of God and usually those are forgiven as unpreventable.