Pontiac Bursts into Flames!


After returning from a Jiffy Lube oil change, my husband parked our 97 Grand Prix in our apartment building parking lot. Fifteen minutes later, we noticed large flames in the engine area and quickly getting worse. There’s currently a fire investigation going on, but were told it would be hard to pinpoint an exact cause.

Does anyone have experience with such vehicle fires? Any known causes?


There are lots of reasons why a vehicle can catch fire. It’s hard to say what might have happened. The only thing that jumps out at me is the “Quicky Lube” connection.

If you read all the horror stories about these quick change oil franchises that pop up here you’d never take your car there again.


I know the Fiero had some MAJOR problems with catching on fire. Several people nation wide were killed.

As previous poster said…suspecious “Quicky Lube”. When you talk with the insurance adjuster tell them what happened. They will probably investigate to see if Quicky Lube is at fault.


There are usually several causes of engine fires.

  1. Someone at the JL inadvertently damaged a fuel line by leaning on it. (This begs the question; you did not get a “fuel system cleaning” did you?
  2. Someone at the JL inadvertently routed a battery cable after cleaning the cable ends and a cable was chaffed, which could then lead to a direct short.
  3. The most plausible IMHO. Determine if the fire started down low on the engine/transmission and exhaust system. This should be easy to determine from char marks. It’s possible due to the JL that oil or transmission fluid was leaking onto a hot catalytic converter and the oil flamed up. The leak could be anything from an improper oil filter installation, drain plug gasket, or transmission fluid leak. (Have the trans flushed? Possible trans cooler line?)

What services did the JL perform?


The most likely cause is a leaky fuel line. Some of the GM cars of that vintage used plastic fuel lines and were recalled to replace with steel. You can check to see if there was a recall or not on yours. Whether JL caused it or just coincidence, either way turn it over to your insurance company with the information. It will be up to them to pay you and go after JL if they want in order to mitigate their loss. It’s really not your problem who caused it at this point. If of course you have insurance. I sure wouldn’t let those kids touch my car though.



I would check to see, if possible, whether or not the oil cap is still on the engine. If they forgot to put the oil cap back on, the engine could have sprayed out enough oil that would have started the fire.


I would check, if possible, to see if the oil cap was left off after the oil change. The engine oil could have been sprayed onto the exhaust manifold and started the fire.


This would be my first suggestion as I have heard that this is a rather common problem at these type of places.
Also, you could have possibly have had a short somewhere in your electrical system. The insurance company will investigate whether or not electrical changes were made after purchase (i.e. installing a new cd player). I only know this because I had a friend that this happened to and since he had installed the cd player, and there was a short in one of the wires, he got nothing for his car.


This doesn’t make sense. Insurance is insurance, we buy it to cover our stupid mistakes.