Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 9:37 a.m.

My GF has a new Toyota Venza that has a habit of starting itself when she isn't in the car. Yes. She comes outside and finds her car running. It's been to the dealer several times for this problem and at one point they had it for about three weeks and a factory rep was involved. After the last time she thought the problem was fixed.

This Friday afternoon she was parked in front of a Starbucks when the car self started again. By the time she got to the car she saw smoke coming out of the hood. She opened the hood, the engine compartment caught fire (yes she should have closed the hood but she didn't). Car burns. Fire Department called. Car may be a total loss. She wasn't hurt.

Anybody have any idea what happened here. Does she have a ghost car or something. I have never heard of a car starting itself while sitting in the parking lot, and no, this car has no remote start feature.

pinchvalve SuperDork
Oct. 31, 2011 9:42 a.m.

Starts after driving it a while? That, plus the fire, leads me to believe that fuel was still being pumped into the engine and perhaps the heat of the engine was igniting it somehow. Excess fuel led to fire. It's weird, whatever it was.

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 9:45 a.m.

I am beginning to wonder if somebody at the dealer scraped some insulation off of a wire somewhere when they were taking little black boxes on and off.

Luke SuperDork
Oct. 31, 2011 9:47 a.m.

When was it made? There was a recall on those possessed models a little while back.

Twin_Cam UltraDork
Oct. 31, 2011 9:47 a.m.

I predict Toyota showering you with hush-hush gifts and a new car in 3, 2, 1...

After all that bad press they got over the "sudden acceleration" bullE36 M3, you can expect they make this go away quickly.

Good to hear she wasn't hurt, though. At least the car had the courtesy to catch fire when she wasn't in it.

jstein77 Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 9:49 a.m.

In order for it to be running, the ignition needs to be energized. My guess would be a faulty ignition switch that shorted out to start the fire.

Good riddance, I say. I assume that your girlfriend won't be buying another Toyota with the insurance money.

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 9:50 a.m.
jstein77 wrote: In order for it to be running, the ignition needs to be energized. My guess would be a faulty ignition switch that shorted out to start the fire. Good riddance, I say. I assume that your girlfriend won't be buying another Toyota with the insurance money.

She's thinking new Subaru now. Like me, she has big dogs to haul around.

4cylndrfury MegaDork
Oct. 31, 2011 9:51 a.m.
Twin_Cam wrote: Good to hear she wasn't hurt, though. At least the car had the courtesy to catch fire when she wasn't in it.

This!

Also, tell them you want a brandy spanking new pair of FT86s...one for you, and one for the guy who gave you this plan, or else youre selling the story to 60 minutes

iceracer SuperDork
Oct. 31, 2011 9:52 a.m.

Definately some electrons going where they shouldn't. Caused by a heat soak.

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 10:01 a.m.
Luke wrote: When was it made? There was a recall on those possessed models a little while back.

Not sure if its a 2009 or a 2010. It might have sat on the lot for a while before she bought it.

spitfirebill SuperDork
Oct. 31, 2011 10:39 a.m.

Ford knows all about this.

pigeon Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 10:46 a.m.

That's lousy for her, but at least she didn't get hurt and it wasn't in a garage or something else such that only the possessed car burned. Certainly one way to solve the problem... I'd be asking for 100% of the purchase price back from Toyota, not making an insurance claim. I don't know what state you're in, but that should be covered under a lemon law if nothing else. Downsides of an insurance claim include paying a deductible and having a claims history with increased future rates.

Oct. 31, 2011 10:53 a.m.

In reply to Snowdoggie:

Toyota does own Subaru now, BTW...

jstein77 Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 11:02 a.m.
CGLockRacer wrote: In reply to Snowdoggie: Toyota does own Subaru now, BTW...

Not completely. They have a 17% share; not enough to make decisions for the firm.

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 11:10 a.m.
pigeon wrote: That's lousy for her, but at least she didn't get hurt and it wasn't in a garage or something else such that only the possessed car burned. Certainly one way to solve the problem... I'd be asking for 100% of the purchase price back from Toyota, not making an insurance claim. I don't know what state you're in, but that should be covered under a lemon law if nothing else. Downsides of an insurance claim include paying a deductible and having a claims history with increased future rates.

Yeah. Good thing it didn't catch fire in her garage. I'm storing my Gold Wing there.

nocones HalfDork
Oct. 31, 2011 11:11 a.m.

New outback FTW. We just bought my wife a 6 speed outback and its very nice. Averaging 25mpg but only has 400 miles thus far.

Osterkraut UberDork
Oct. 31, 2011 11:30 a.m.
Snowdoggie wrote:
jstein77 wrote: In order for it to be running, the ignition needs to be energized. My guess would be a faulty ignition switch that shorted out to start the fire. Good riddance, I say. I assume that your girlfriend won't be buying another Toyota with the insurance money.

She's thinking new Subaru now. Like me, she has big dogs to haul around.

Get your bitches a van. Bitches love vans:

Conquest351 HalfDork
Oct. 31, 2011 11:31 a.m.

I've had customers coming in with self starting cars before. 99% of the time it's because the lady has the key or keyfob in her purse and has 27 lbs of crap in there that presses the start button. Figured it out when we were outside and she was searching for something in her purse and boom, fired right up. It's happened on just about all the others too. Sometimes it's in the guys pocket and change or something else pushes the buttons. Here it definitely sounds like a MUCH bigger problem. Good side is, car's gone now. LOL Good and bad, I guess. Glad she's ok and no one was hurt!

44Dwarf Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 11:35 a.m.

I seem to recall VW having problems with this after rain storms in rabbits back in the 80's. Seems water could get on the starter relay and short it or something.

MrJoshua SuperDork
Oct. 31, 2011 11:39 a.m.
44Dwarf wrote: I seem to recall VW having problems with this after rain storms in rabbits back in the 80's. Seems water could get on the starter relay and short it or something.

Interesting possibility. That would mean the car wasn't running, but instead spinning the engine with the starter. Starter would soon overheat and possibly start a fire. If the battery could take the starter running that long of course.

Sky_Render New Reader
Oct. 31, 2011 11:56 a.m.

Maybe the car thought it was a member of the Individual Eleven?

dean1484 SuperDork
Oct. 31, 2011 12:14 p.m.

I wonder if the lemon law applies? How many times did she go back to the dealer? The battle between the insurance and the dealer and toyota should be fun. I would also report this to the NTSB. They take these kind of thing VERY seriously. I am sure that Toyota is hoping that you forget all about it.

I would definitely approach Toyota first as you should not have to get a insurance record due to this. On the other hand it is after all why you have insurance.

Please let us know how this plays out. I can imaging the phone call to the dealer.

BoostedBrandon HalfDork
Oct. 31, 2011 2:04 p.m.

YES contact toyota, YES demand purchase price back, and if they give you the run around, show them Dateline NBC's number in your contacts....

jstein77 Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 2:55 p.m.

That pic reminds me of something that happened to me over the weekend. We found a Golden Retriever wandering around on my street at home and stopped to see if we could help. After looking at the dog's tag, I realized he lived right around the corner from me. I led him over to the car, and he just jumped right into the back seat without any prodding. He put his front paws up onto the center console and looked out the front windshield as I was driving him home with a happy expression on his face. He seemed to enjoy the ride!

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie Dork
Oct. 31, 2011 4:41 p.m.

I work for a law firm that does insurance defense work. She's a CPA/VP for an private investment firm with in house counsel down the hall. We have plenty of good legal advice. I really don't want to roast Toyota on a spit because everybody makes mistakes, and I don't think either of us wants to be on TV.

I'm just scratching my head trying to figure out what happened to the car. I have taken quite a few auto tech courses at the local community college and strangely enough, the program is sponsored by Toyota, so I have had some experience mucking around with the electricals of late model Toyotas. It doesn't have remote start either, although it could be an option this one doesn't have and the wiring may still be in place.

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