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Old 02-03-2001, 01:28 AM
MikeTangas's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: So. Cal
Posts: 4,430
Off Topic-non MB, but tonight I can count my lucky stars!!!

Earlier tonight, after posting a run of messages here, the wife decided we needed to go out for dinner. Loaded the kids into the Suburban and off we went. We planed our route to take us by the Sears store, so wifey could exchange an item be fore we ate. As I pulled up to the front of the store IT happened.

I was turning and applied the brakes, felt one of the hydraulic lines give out. Almost instantly the engine was on fire from the steering fluid being pumped on the exhaust manifold. The Suburban is a 3/4 ton model with hydraulic over hydraulic brakes, the added pressure of turning and braking apparently burst the hose.

Any how, after a very calm, very real fire drill, after I got the munchkins out and away from the truck, some of the Sears employees came running out with dry extinguishers at the ready. The flames were doused in short order, but not before making a mess of the engine compartment.

Everything on the left side of the engine is toast. I could not tell if the pump to booster pressure line I replaced last weekend blew a fitting, or if one of the other three lines gave out. All of the wiring harnesses and hoses and anything rubber or plastic is wasted.

I feel very lucky, because we took the Suburban tonight. Tomorrow my wife was going to go to San Diego to see her Mother. Her and the kids were going to go in the Suburban. If we hadn't taken it tonight, this would have probably happened on the interstate, probably with different results.

Tomorrow I call the insurance and Sunday I'll try to find out why it happened, tonight I sleep well.
Mike Tangas
'73 280SEL 4.5 (9/72)- RIP
Only 8,173 units built from 5/71 thru 11/72

'02 CLK320 Cabriolet - wifey's mid-life crisis

2012 VW Jetta Sportwagon least its a diesel

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Old 02-03-2001, 01:56 AM
JCE's Avatar
JCE JCE is offline
Down to the Wear Bars
Join Date: May 1999
Location: So Kalifornia
Posts: 2,189
Wow, Mike, What an event. I hope the kids didn't get too scared, and that they and Viki are OK. Someone was watching out for you!!! If you had been moving at any kind of speed, you would have been wrestling that behemouth off the road while the fire was spreading!

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Old 02-03-2001, 02:17 AM
longston's Avatar
Another View. . .
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Mark West, CA
Posts: 787
This Has Been A Weird Week!


First, I echo John's sentiments, I'm glad you, Viki, and the kids are ok, and I hope the kids saw it more as an adventure than a nightmare! I'm also very glad that it happened when there was Dad there to deal with the element of trauma!

That's what we Dads are here for! Hope it all works out well, and glad to hear you were such a hero for your family that you'll be able to sleep well tonight! It's a good feeling after all!

Note to other members, buy some marine, or other compact fire extinguishers, and keep them in your all of your cars! You never know when you'll need them!

[Edited by longston on 02-03-2001 at 02:23 AM]
"We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror."
- Marshall McLuhan -

Scott Longston
Northern California Wine Country...
"Turbos whistle, grapes wine..."
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Old 02-03-2001, 11:04 AM
Posts: n/a
Good note longston,

You never know when you or someone you may happen upon may need that fire extinguisher when lives are on the line!


Thank God you where on the scene, sometimes things happen for reasons, that failure happening with you in the car was just darn good luck!

Slow speed, you behind the wheel, and being near other people with fire extinguishers avoided worse consequences.

And now you have the added burden of replacing the Suburban!

Good Luck,


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Old 02-03-2001, 12:10 PM
MikeTangas's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: So. Cal
Posts: 4,430
Thank you for the thoughts and kind words.


I usually do have a fire extinguisher, but I took it out when cleaning out the storage compartments last weekend. My mistake - forgot to put it back in. Thankfully Sears had a bunch of chemical extinguishers handy at the will call door. They popped 5 of them I think.


I don't think replacement will be an option. But then again, I haven't looked at it yet in the day light. Under the beam of a flashlight, it appears to be repairable, only the wiring harnesses and sensors and all the rubber/plastic stuff on the left bank of the engine bay. Haven't gotten through to the insurance adjuster yet, will be trying again as sson as I post this. However, the interior has that wonderful barbequed rubber smell, not sure if that smell will ever go away.

OK, time to call my agent, then back to work.

Mike Tangas
'73 280SEL 4.5 (9/72)- RIP
Only 8,173 units built from 5/71 thru 11/72

'02 CLK320 Cabriolet - wifey's mid-life crisis

2012 VW Jetta Sportwagon least its a diesel

Non illegitemae carborundum.
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Old 02-03-2001, 01:11 PM
Posts: n/a

I'm glad everyone is okay. What would have happened if you would have been doing sixty.

When I first moved out here in the boondocks fourteen years ago, I was coming home one Spring evening and was almost home, when I was meeting a 1 ton Chevy flatbed, pulling a bale wagon. It started off the road to its right, away from me, thank God. It went through the bar ditch and up into my elderly neighbors yard. He was sitting near the road in a lawn chair. The truck and trailer went right by him, missed him by about three feet. It scattered round bales all over everywhere and tore up at least 100 feet of good fence. I turned around and went back to see if everyone was okay.

We started looking and what happened was that the water pump came apart and it lost the pump belt. When that happened he had no power steering or brakes and about 15,000 pounds of load plus trailer and truck. The outcome in that incident was divine intervention as well. I have been leary of that system ever since.

The good thing was that as people were coming in from work or the fields, they were all stopping to see what they could do to help. One person went to town for a water pump while a couple of others went for tractors. I went for some tools. We pulled the truck and trailer on good ground, while the driver and I started pulling the water pump, someone else loaded the hay back on the truck to clear the road. We had everything ready for the water pump just about the time they got back from town with it. We put it on with new belts, he was lucky it didn't take out the radiator. He was on his way within several hours as if nothing had happened.

For those who have never experienced Southern hospitality and good will, I think this is one of the best examplles of it that I can think of. This gentlemen and my neighbor were both very lucky.

I'm glad you're all okay,
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Old 02-03-2001, 09:17 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Oceanside, NY
Posts: 506
I'm glad everybody is ok, and I am glad that you were there, and that you guy's took the car out htat night , before your wife heading out to see her mother with it. Its not really a bad thing when you think about it because you can replace the Suberban with a ML Best Wishes
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Old 02-04-2001, 03:10 AM
MikeTangas's Avatar
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Location: So. Cal
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Now that you mention it Alex, I have to admit I was just a little upset that they got the fire out. First, the hassle with the insurance and repairs etc, would be drastically less, if it had been a total loss there would be no argueing that this or that was also damaged etc. Second, if it had been a total loss, I could have gotten a nice 300 TE ot 300 TD as a replacement.

I did spend some time in the daylight checking things out. Damage to the wiring does cross over to the right bank of the engine and as far out as the tail of the tranny (even a little charring to the deck there too). Could not tell which line burst, they are all melted blobs, the heat protective wraps are melted into the rubber and just abig mess. Besides the wiring and hydraulic lines, the steering pump is toast, the ABS unit was right in the middle of the flames (gonna ask that the unit be replaced due to the heat), master cylinder, throtle cable, cruise cable and control head, upper control arm bushings and both the delivery and return fuel lines have scorching on them. A little bit longer of a burn and they would have gone up too.

Fortunately for me, I have a friend who works at the Chevy dealer. I will be requesting he be the mechanic assigned to the job, as I know the job will be done right.
Mike Tangas
'73 280SEL 4.5 (9/72)- RIP
Only 8,173 units built from 5/71 thru 11/72

'02 CLK320 Cabriolet - wifey's mid-life crisis

2012 VW Jetta Sportwagon least its a diesel

Non illegitemae carborundum.
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Old 02-04-2001, 03:25 AM
Ashman's Avatar
Service Advisor
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA
Posts: 4,748
Mike, glad to hear you and the Family are all safe from that fire you had with the truck.

My father was restoring an old 69 rolls cornice coupe right hand drive car, we were out driving one day, and the muffler caught on fire, burned through the floor and the passenger seat caught on fire.

We tried to let the car buen but the firetruck came and put it out. Someone had reported the fire. We wanted to see it burn to the ground. After all, how often do you get to see a rolls royce go up in flames? Well to make a long story short, the fire smell was never gone from the car, and I never felt safe in the car after that of course I was like 7 years old at the time. My father got rid of it before the restoration was complete.

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Old 02-04-2001, 05:04 AM
Snow bum
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Here and there . . .
Posts: 238
I almost had a similar experience with an 87 Suburban that I used to drive. One of the axle seals blew out on my commute home from school (about 25 miles), and axle grease was sprayed on my hot brakes. I noticed smoke coming from the car so I pulled over into a gas station. While blankly looking at the truck trying to decide what to do the grease managed to seep its way into the drum, and proceeded to catch fire. Luckily there was a hose nearby, and I backed away and doused the flames before any damage was done. Drove it to a nearby repair shop, had the axle replaced (it was damaged from driving without any grease), and had it back the next day. It is good that you and your family are okay.

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1983 280SEL - Sold at 206K
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