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1993 Festiva Mystery Fire

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  • 1993 Festiva Mystery Fire

    I just ran across a 93 Festiva, 5 speed manual trans, AC ... and it has had a minor fire under the hood.

    The story was that it was being towed about 6 miles with the front wheels on the ground and possibly IN GEAR!!!

    All that is visibly damaged is in front of the center of engine.
    The air intake is melted above exhaust manifold. The front plastic grill is almost burned away and the plastic bumper covering is warped. Paint on the hood is still good. Cooling fan even looks good. Plug wires are intact.

    The kid thinks the transmission caught fire. O_o but I see no evidence of damage near there. Distributor cap is fine too. No damage on side of engine around tranny. Battery is bolted down and secure.

    So this is a mystery fire to me. I am stumped.

    I'm not too worried about the fire damage, but rather the trans, clutch and flywheel.
    If the trans was left in (some) gear, front wheels on the ground, could the clutch have slipped and burnt?
    Yet I see no evidence of anything burnt on exterior of transmission .... grease intact!
    Or would the engine just have turned over? 1st or 2nd gear would have really been high RPM's!
    May have had 3 miles of highway towing, but not sure what route the tow truck took.

    Any theory's will be helpful.

    Never buy a car you can't push!
    1988 Silver / 1989 Black / 1992 white / 1993 white

  • #2
    Why was it being towed? Any chance this happened before it was towed/thats why it was towed? What was towing it? Some pickup with its exhaust pointing straight back into the grille of the festiva? I would like to think an actual tow truck driver would not have towed a fwd with the front wheels on the ground and in gear to boot.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


    • #3
      Story is that a rear wheel bearing caused him to stop and call AAA. A regular old style tow truck showed up with arm and cradle.
      I am aware of the family from the neighborhood. Nice people ... have no reason to doubt them. Yet it is all really odd.
      Last edited by unclepossum; 02-26-2016, 08:20 PM.
      Never buy a car you can't push!
      1988 Silver / 1989 Black / 1992 white / 1993 white


      • #4
        I seen this car on Craigslist I just scratched my head and said really how dose that happen.


        • #5
          Guess I wasn't real clear about positioning of the car. It was towed backwards with front wheels on the ground.

          What do you think would happen to a front wheel drive Festiva, TOWED BACKWARDS in gear?

          Would the car even be heavy enough to keep the tires from skidding?
          What if the engine really did get spun backwards?
          Think the timing belt would jump and cause valve/head issues?
          Never buy a car you can't push!
          1988 Silver / 1989 Black / 1992 white / 1993 white


          • #6
            Seems like it would have had to have been out of gear unless they broke something free while dragging it.Does it roll in gear?My thought is possibly a positive wire grounding starting the fire but i cant think of wiring in the front of the car that would be heavy enough to do that.Sounds like we would have to do a reenactment to find out.Maybe one for a Mythbusters episode eh?


            • #7
              Originally posted by unclepossum View Post
              Think the timing belt would jump and cause valve/head issues?
              The Festiva engine is a non-interference engine. It is impossible for the open valves to touch the piston top and cause damage.

              I don't know if this could happen or not, but what if the car was indeed towed in gear and the engine running backwards was pushing the hot compression air back out the intake until it got hot enough to burn the plastic parts. Or another possibility that the ignition switch was left on and the engine was getting fuel to cause a fire inside the intake manifold sort of like when a carbed engine backfires and the carb catches on fire.
              You gonna race that thing?


              • #8
                Ya know what happens when an alternator runs backwards? Demons get in the wires... Lol.

                Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


                • #9
                  Mythbusters .... LOL, I like that!

                  festi46 .... non interference type head/engine is a real plus!

                  I like the idea of key on/fuel pump pressurized, but doubt engine would be that hot after waiting for AAA to show up.
                  If key was on, ignition circuit might have been firing (backward) and fuel was pooped out in to the intake? Maybe a spark plug fired when gas was being expelled into air intake?

                  The ideas you all have supplied have allowed me to raise more questions and I have some more things to check out.
                  Last edited by unclepossum; 02-27-2016, 02:18 PM.
                  Never buy a car you can't push!
                  1988 Silver / 1989 Black / 1992 white / 1993 white


                  • #10
                    The description of the location of the fires leads me to speculate:
                    Maybe the AC had been charged with propane, a small leak developed, and a spark started a blow torch.
                    Last edited by 1990new; 02-27-2016, 02:51 PM.


                    • #11
                      Found some interesting chatter on reversing an alternator ...

                      "Will an alternator work spinning in reverse?"

                      "Of course it will, for the simple reason that it is AC ( alternating current ) inside and changed to DC ( direct current ) after the internal diodes, so it doesn't matter which side you turn it, it will generate the same power, the only things is your brushes have been shaped a certain way by always turning on the same side so by turning it the other way around it will be harder on them unless you replace them with new ones then problem solved, if you don't replace them they will worn out faster and you may end up with alternator noise in your AM radio because of higher sparks in the brushes, the other very important factor is the fan which will turn the opposite way will not cool your alternator very much anymore and may result in your alternator failure due to over heating."
                      "It depends on the alternator. The stator and rotor will generate electricity but the diodes and the regulator (if equipped) will stop the current from flowing. the fan will be backwards also and will not push air inside."
                      Last edited by unclepossum; 02-27-2016, 03:06 PM.
                      Never buy a car you can't push!
                      1988 Silver / 1989 Black / 1992 white / 1993 white


                      • #12
                        Are you considering taking this on as a project car?


                        • #13
                          I already have two good running Festi's and a 3rd parts car. (that runs but has no compression in #3 cyl) I figure if I get this one, I can get one running between all the parts from two cars. Then pick the two best ones and sell the remaining car.

                          P1050032 (Small).jpg P1050036 (Small).jpg

                          Black = 1989 with bad #3 Cyl 199,000K
                          Silver = 1988 Daily Driver 94,000K
                          White = 1992 5sp, A/C tinted glass 145,000K
                          Last edited by unclepossum; 02-28-2016, 03:44 PM.
                          Never buy a car you can't push!
                          1988 Silver / 1989 Black / 1992 white / 1993 white


                          • #14
                            Sounds like a good plan, you have a good looking group of cars there, good luck with the project. I would like to see more pic's of your house, I have always liked the Log cabin home.
                            An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.


                            • #15
                              ^ yes beautiful house!
                              Log cabin or tember frame is my dream house.