Citroen C5 VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

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Sezza
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Citroen C5 VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by Sezza » 04 Apr 2018, 16:44

Not sure where else to ask this.

Whilst driving my 2013 Citroen C5 VTR Techno Pack 160 HDi earlier today, it suddenly popped up with a warning about the Automatic Wiping (didn't see if it said 'activated' or Deactivated' - but I wasn't using or touching the wipers! This closely followed by the Service light ....

I tried operating the wipers and nothing happened although the wiper blade was 'fluttering' a bit. I decided not to worry and hoped the issue would re-set after car stopped / re-started.

Barely thought that when the car started running a bit roughly - lacking power as if it had gone into 'Safe' mode .....

(This within a minute or so).

Things then got a bit manic as other lights flashed up - the one I remember was a Power steering failure and emergency 'Stop' warnings!

I *think engine still running, but I quickly pulled over and came to a stop. TBH, not sure if engine still running, but turned ignition off as I noticed 'smoke' coming out of the near-side rear of the bonnet.

Quickly got out of the car .... The smoke wasn't dense, but more than steam. No fluids leaking or anything. The smoke varied in amount. Then the car tried to start itself!

Rushed round and removed key from ignition - but a few moments later it again turned over.

I am very aware of the perils of opening a bonnet on a possible fire, so stayed away. No major heat on bonnet etc., but smoke contined with occasional random noises.

At that point a passer-by stopped and offered me the use of their mobile to call someone (as I do not routinely carry a mobile on me).

Decided to call the RAC as I was pretty sure the car was immobile.

Anyway, got a call into the RAC who appeared about 1.5 hours after the start of the incident.

Whilst waiting for them, the smoke did eventually die-down although quite a stink!!

RAC man arrived and I told him I thought batttery/fuses involved as no electircal activity at all on the car now.

Having checked for any obvious signs of ongoing fire (now no smoke and bonnet didn't feel hot or anything) he opened the bonnet (after a struggle as the blooming stupid plastic bonnet safety catch broke!!).

All looked OK, and initially he suggested tht maybe the starter motor had got stuck and then burnt out ??!?!?

I explained that area of smoke was by battery and fuse box. Battery looked fine, but hen he opened fuse compartment, just a melted charred mess!

He said he'd never seen anything like it!

On the major +side, the heavy plastic cover seemed to have contained everything, and it did appear like probably little in the way of flames, but obviously major heat.

Been in touch with my insurers who are accepting it as a claim at this time.

My big Q? is whether this is a known fault whereby a fusebox over-heats and melts without apparently any warning?

Insurers are saying if that the case they will take it up with Citroen.

RAC man commented that having seen the damage, he would expect a complete re-wire needed and thence the car likely to be an insurance write-off :shock:

I can't afford a new car or major repairs so am hoping the insurers accept it - even then I'll have to pay my excess of £450.00 ........

We will then get down to the value of the car ..... Do they base value on replacement values at the time, or on what the car cost? (I've had it one year).

.... and do I want another C5?

Sorry for the rant, still shocked - although very relieved as it seems it could have been much worse.

Any advice / suggestions welcomed.

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GiveMeABreak
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Re: Citroen Cg VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by GiveMeABreak » 04 Apr 2018, 17:03

Glad you are ok, and yes quite shocking from reading this.

My initial thoughts are that there is a possibility that a fuse has been replaced in the engine bay fuse box with a higher amp rating than recommended, so that it did not blow, leading to the overheating and smoking. Unfortunately this is something that some people will do to prevent a fuse from blowing, without looking at the underlying problem, which is a potential hazard waiting to happen. That is the purpose of having specifically rated fuses, so that they blow before causing damage. So it is a distinct possibility that a previous owner / garage has done this.

As for your insurance question, the value of the car is generally always at the time of the claim - not what you paid for it. That's another reason why you can buy 'gap' protection insurance, so that if your car is written off, the insurance will make up the difference between what the insurance company offer and what you paid for it.

I hope it goes well, but I suspect it was down to a higher rated fuse - fingers crossed on a positive outcome for you.

Perhaps this is a good opportunity for other owners to check all their engine compartment fuses....

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bobins
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Re: Citroen Cg VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by bobins » 04 Apr 2018, 17:14

I've heard of earlier C5 X7 having fusebox/BSI problems, but not to the extent they overheat and/or catch fire - normally things just stop working or go intermittent. There's nothing listed about incidents such as yours causing recalls on the DVSA website and known fusebox 'fires' would normally constitute a recall as they're quite a serious safety issue. I think yours is an isolated incident, and the only reason I can think (off the top of my head) that someone would put in an uprated fuse (as per Marc's post) would be to try and keep the hydraulic pump running if it's in a dodgy condition - ISTR that some people have had issues with the pumps getting gummed up and blowing fuses, but I would have thought that if that was the case with yours then it would have shown up earlier in your 12 months of ownership.

Sezza
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Re: Citroen Cg VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by Sezza » 04 Apr 2018, 17:16

Thanks for your thoughts.

I've owned the car for 12 months and have had no issues with electrics so nothing touched with the fuses. Whether this is good or not, the car is an ex lease car so was always repaired as required by a Citroen main dealer prior to my getting it, so I'd expect that to mean less likely for a dodgy-fuse to be fitted.

I will try and find the service summary that came with the car to see if any mention of an electrical problem.

Also, not sure if it is relevant, but the driving conditions were good - so little in the way of accessories running (although of course it might not be an accessory at fault!), but no wipers; heated screens; blowers etc. in operation at the time.

With regard to insurance valuation, that is not too bad as I picked up the car quite cheaply so would hope any valuation is acceptable and I won't have to battle the insurers or whoever. Although concerned that if taken to Citroen, it could be a long drawn-out process and will cost me at the very least in terms of convenience and likely expense.

Oh dear ........

Although I do realise it could have been a lot worse in terms of it not causing a full blown fire; I didn't have anyone (or my dogs!) in the car; and it wasn't raining! LOL

Thank you.

Sarah

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GiveMeABreak
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Re: Citroen Cg VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by GiveMeABreak » 04 Apr 2018, 17:18

Yes good point Bobins - and I also forgot to include the possibility of water ingress. If water has got into the fuse box, it may have caused a short leading to burning - see this article and pictures on a C2 that apparently hsuffered from this:
http://cbl-autoelectrics.co.uk/index.ph ... -bsm-fire/

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GiveMeABreak
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Re: Citroen Cg VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by GiveMeABreak » 04 Apr 2018, 17:27

Sezza wrote:
04 Apr 2018, 17:16
I've owned the car for 12 months and have had no issues with electrics so nothing touched with the fuses. Whether this is good or not, the car is an ex lease car so was always repaired as required by a Citroen main dealer prior to my getting it, so I'd expect that to mean less likely for a dodgy-fuse to be fitted.
It may still be a possibility Sarah - easy enough to put the wrong rated fuse in regardless of who did it - so we can't discount this. But I suspect the insurance company may send an experienced electrical assessor to check it out - they may be able to check for evidence of this.
I will try and find the service summary that came with the car to see if any mention of an electrical problem.
A good place to start - will help identify if there were any issues - always worth doing a little groundwork

Gibbo2286
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Re: Citroen Cg VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by Gibbo2286 » 04 Apr 2018, 17:58

Some of you may remember the melted fuse box on my previous C5, caused I believe by nothing more than a poor connection arcing and overheating, there's a photo on here somewhere.........relating to the failed blower module, which in my case it wasn't.

Scroll down to near the end.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=58032&hilit=Heater+ ... &start=15

jgra1
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Re: Citroen Cg VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by jgra1 » 04 Apr 2018, 18:43

blimey, quite a worrying turn of events!

I have the same car I suspect, near as dammit..
I guess if this does happen, getting in there and pulling the battery terminals is a consideration if you are brave..


I wonder if a secondhand fusebox and some creative rewiring would be worth doing, to see if the car came back to life?

John

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GiveMeABreak
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Re: Citroen Cg VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by GiveMeABreak » 04 Apr 2018, 19:25

I suppose that’ll depend on any associated damage to the components at the other end, and as the disconnection was not made for some time after, it has likely not helped limit any damage.

Sezza
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Re: Citroen C5 VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by Sezza » 04 Apr 2018, 19:42

Now thinking a bit more clearly, am I to understand that if fault is proven to be an incorrect fuse then no insurance. So I would then have to somehow prove who was to blame - likely impossible. If no obvious reason can be found, then I would assume that again the insurers will say not their responsibility.

So that begs the question of if repairable or not. I assume that it will be repairable as such - after all there is an awful lot of undamaged car there! BUT of course the expense might be prohibitive. Would I be better to take the car to an automotive electrician, or to allow the main dealer to do it if that is the way things go? ...and if too expensive to repair wiring, does the car have anything much in the way of value for all the rest of it?

It certainly would seem very sad to see a perfectly lovely car in good running order (assuming you don't want to run any electrics LOL) to be scrapped.

So what will be my way forward if insurers / Citroen won't take any responsibility? (... and of course I have little in the way of spare cash :-( )

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Paul-R
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Re: Citroen C5 VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by Paul-R » 04 Apr 2018, 20:00

It's just supposition that it's an incorrect fuse at fault. Even it is was the cause it may now be impossible to tell.

Personally I'd wait to see what the insurers say when they come back to you.

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Stickyfinger
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Re: Citroen C5 VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by Stickyfinger » 04 Apr 2018, 20:21

With a car at that value, they will not look into it in much detail. Also, correct me if I am wrong but legally they have to prove you KNEW about any fault to wiggle out of paying up.

I say this with very strong emphasis, only ever say "I DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING", say zero about any fuse etc, DO NOT get into ANY conversation with them regarding cause..

It may even be good to delete this thread untill everything has been sorted...
Last edited by Stickyfinger on 04 Apr 2018, 20:24, edited 1 time in total.

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bobins
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Re: Citroen C5 VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by bobins » 04 Apr 2018, 20:23

The chances of it being due to an incorrect fuse are slim. For a start, modern cars rarely need fuses replacing during normal use, so it'd be unlikely anyone has ever been and replaced the fuse. In the unlikely chance a higher rated fuse had been substituted, there'd normally be a reason for that, and I would have thought that reason might have shown itself in the preceding 12 months. Also, a higher rated fuse doesn't necessarily result in a fire - the higher fuse would only pass a higher current (than the wiring was designed for) if the components that were powered through it suddenly demanded a much higher current (i.e. a component suffered a failure requiring higher current), and that's an unlikely - but not impossible - scenario.
Although it's easy for me to say so from my comfy chair - I'd say the chances of your 'fire' being due to an overrated fuse being fitted are slim. :)
As Paul says above - let the insurers decide the fate of the car. If you're really attached to the car then it is possible (in most cases) to acquire the car back off the insurers and fix it up yourself using second hand parts and independent mechanics - though there are issues associated with that if you decide to go down that route.

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bobins
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Re: Citroen C5 VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by bobins » 04 Apr 2018, 20:28

Stickyfinger wrote:
04 Apr 2018, 20:21
correct me if I am wrong but legally they have to prove you KNEW about any fault to wiggle out of paying up.


If this had happened to me then I'd repeat the phrase "It's unreasonable to expect me to examine and check the fuses in a newly acquired car"

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EDC5
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Re: Citroen C5 VTR 160 HDi fuse box spontanously melted

Post by EDC5 » 04 Apr 2018, 20:49

This is a really scary happening. If I was in the habit of parking my C5 indoors I'd certainly consider fitting a fire alarm to the garage!