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Thread: car on fire

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Jan 2016
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    car on fire

    Hi Gents

    I am after a bit off advice
    Last night I sold my 2.7 xf to a very nice fellow and he took it for a i5 minute drive and was very happy with it
    I have only had the car put through its MOT less than 8 weeks ago and the only advisory I had was a small leak from the exhaust but it passed the emissions test
    The Guy drives it home and then about 50 miles into his journey he rings me to say that the car is on fire it started underneath the car around the central tunnel area
    The fire brigade told him that there must be a fuel leak and that diesel has got onto the exhaust and the flames started from there
    I asked the guy did he get any tell tale signs like the smell off burning and he said he thought it was the smell from the leather dash ? I also asked him if the engine management light came on and he said no I also asked him if he was losing any power and he said the car was driving fine
    At the moment its wrecking my brain as I have had this car for near on 5yrs and never had any issues like this before so my questions are
    Would the fuel leak be picked up on the MOT test
    Surely the engine management light would have come on
    would he not be losing power from fuel starvation
    Could Diesel dripping onto a hot exhaust cause a fire
    Could it be a matter of mis fuelling

    Obviously the guy wants his money back but I can't work out how its managed to go up in flames within a 1 hour time slot of him driving it
    Please let me have your comments please
    I only sold it because I bought the 5ltr supercharger
    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Senior Member Winchester12g's Avatar
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    Aug 2014
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    Do you have the legal cover option on your house and/or car insurance? If so I'd call them straight away as it's professional advice you need, not opinions or best-guesses.

    If you refund the guy you've lost everything when he could be at fault. If you don't offer him his money back then he's bound to seek legal advice himself.

    The people at the other end of the phone are actual solicitors - I've used the service a couple of times over the years to put my mind at rest and it's great.

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  4. #3
    Senior Member Billy2Jags's Avatar
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    Mar 2016
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    I agree with Winchester12g but for my 2 penneth, diesel wouldn't ignite in that scenario.
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  5. #4
    Senior Member Phil F's Avatar
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    Its a hard lesson on the buyer but you sold it as a private sale so surely its up to the buyer to claim on his insurance. You didn't imply or give any warranty did you ? Like an auction it's buyer beware unless a warranty is given or implied.
    Once the car left you anything could have been driven over and got stuck on the exhaust etc .
    Diesel won't ignite but if it get hot enough to fume or smoke then the smoke/ vapour will easily ignite if a spark or heat source is present.
    Brake fluid will ignite spontaneously if it comes into contact with a hot exhaust but that exhaust needs to be very hot like a manifold etc.
    As already said take legal advice . I would put money on it being the buyers responsibility.
    Good luck and let us know how you get on.
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  7. #5
    Senior Member Rowley_1812's Avatar
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    Dec 2014
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    Hi Tel, welcome to the Forum.

    I agree with all of the above regarding the need for proper legal advice so that you know exactly where you stand.

    In my view it's an insurance claim, pure and simple, and clearly you didn't own it at the time of the incident so it's not your responsibility.

    Harsh on the buyer, but fair on you.
    2005 (55) X-type 2.0d S saloon ~ Zircon/Champagne/Belize.

  8. #6
    Senior Member barryhi's Avatar
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    I would guess he needs to claim on his insurance (assuming he did insure it for the drive home !), - if the payout does not equal what he has just paid you for the car he might come back asking you (politely or legally) to cover his losses. How he would stand in law is anyones guess.

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  9. #7
    Senior Member Cats_paws's Avatar
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    I also agree with the above comments. If you give him his money back, you won't be able to claim on your insurance so you lose the lot. If he was insured, he'll be covered. If not, then that's his look out. It's clearly not your fault even if you do find it embarrassing.
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  10. #8
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    Really odd this one and stressful for you if he gets abit nasty wanting a refund so hold off paying out anything until you have legal advice, looks like its just bad luck. If he had any sense he would have insurance in place which he would need anyway to drive it so if he didn't bother that's his loss.

    Sure he is angry but who could predict this happening.
    When I die I want to go like my Granddad, peacefully in his sleep, not screaming like the people on the back seat.

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  11. #9
    Senior Member jberks's Avatar
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    May 2014
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    I'd just support what has been said. The car was sold honestly and was bought as seen from someone who is not a trader and not covered by trader regulations. You owe him no obligation (please confirm this with a solicitor). If he wanted a warranty or come-back, he should have gone to a dealer and paid the appropriate premium for it. The obligations on a private sale, assuming it's legal (the car isn't stolen) cease at the moment the transaction is completed as far as I know. That's certainly been my understanding both buying and selling. There's a risk and you build that into your offer.
    A failure can happen at any time and it appears he's just been very unlucky. What would have happened if it had thrown a con rod for example? Did he think he could come back to you in a month if there's a problem with the radio? It's an old car after all. Bought as seen is bought as seen. He has as much ability to look for a fuel leak as you did. His only case is if he could prove you'd known about it, which you clearly didn't.

    At least, as he just bought it, there should be no argument about value with HIS insurance company.
    Absolutely do not return his money.
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  12. #10
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    Legally, as long as the car is as described, roadworthy and you have the right to sell it then it's his responsibility. Just a bit awkward!

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