Gas tank explosion

The wife’s nonprofit runs a hand-full of pickups that are 4 years old, more or less. Keep in mind that I have not seen the truck and only have second-hand accounts. The truck was being driven by an experienced person and it suddenly exploded from the rear end with enough force to break the back window. There was no collision. I guess indications are that it is something with the fuel system and someone did not just shoot out the window. It was towed to the dealer where it was bought and is serviced.

My advice, after a little consideration, was to tell her that they should call the NHTSA, and have the truck examined by an independent mechanic (and I know the right guy). Unfortunately, she is having a hell week all by itself, and more than half of her senior staff is out sick. A staff idiot, without the authority, authorized repairs and the dealer is saying that it looks like it was tampered with. Please be patient with me, folks, this is all second or third hand and that is the best I can do right now. I don’t know what “it” of the “tampered with” means, but presumably it is the gas tank or associated fuel pump or gas line.

I just called NHTSA. A nice woman told me the dealer or manufacturer should be notified. The NHTSA do take reports by phone or on the web. That process does not appeal to me much. The woman said that having it examined by an independent repair shop is a good idea if you want to pay for it. I told DW that I would make sure the parts are saved from the truck at the very least. I wonder if the repairs should be stopped. It is really unfortunate that it went to the dealer to start with. They have to be biased.

Any advice at this point?

I’m not quite sure why you are assuming that the gas tank exploded.

The “rear end” exploded?
Do you mean the rear axle, or are you referring to the extreme back of the truck itself?
If it is the latter, please bear in mind that the gas tank is likely to be very close to the passenger cabin, and not all the way in the rear of the pickup.

I know that all of your information is second-hand, but I think that a gas tank explosion is unlikely.
For instance–were flames reported?
Is there extensive fire damage to the truck, or is a shattered back window the only real damage?
Exactly what parts of the truck were damaged?

Many years ago, a friend of mine was driving along the Garden State Parkway at night. Suddenly, he heard a gunshot and experienced a quick deflation of the right front tire. Even though he was driving adjacent to a suburban residential area, someone had taken a potshot and had hit his tire. The bullet hole was there to prove what happened, so–yes–weird things can be done by bystanders with bad intentions.

In the case of this truck, perhaps someone hurled a rock that was large enough to shatter the rear window and make a very loud noise. Just a theory.

If it truly was an “explosion” then the fire dept. should be notified so a city or state fire inspector or marshall can look at it.

I’d go straight to the dealer with digital camera in hand, and ask them to stop whatever work they’re doing on it. If they say it’s been tampered with, then it’s a possible criminal act, and whatever they’re doing to repair it is erasing the evidence, with the result that you or the police may never be able to figure out exactly what happened. Ask them to show you the truck and the part(s) that “exploded.” Take lots of photos.

Ask the dealership to park the truck outside and not to proceed any further repairs until you contact the police and ask their advice. Tell the police what happened and see what they say. Tell them that the dealership said the vehicle was tampered with, and that you have photos of what happened. And if the back window was actually shot out, rather than a gas tank exploding, I imagine the police would still want to know.

I’d also call the insurance company and tell them what happened and ask for their advice.

Thanks for the prompt responses, folks. I just got some information that the truck was damaged and repaired at some point. It looks like a bad repair job. I will keep you posted as I get more info.

But–exactly what part of the truck “exploded”???

Unfortunately, all I can say is something in the back end. The feedback so far says that it looks like the “someone took a hammer to the gas tank shield ? or something like that.”

I think that the above advice to get someone up there with a camera, call the insurance company, maybe call the fire or police depts is all good. Fire charring visible? Shredded metal? I just don’t know. I will pass along information as it gets to me.

Again, thanks for the advice so far.