I was driving up to Chicago today to teach a class on printers. I noticed that traffic had slowed and backed up. Its not unusual for this to happen especially in a city like Chicago but it was kind of early for it to be this slow. As I got closer to the clog I noticed a lady in her mid 20’s to late 30’s standing next to her Dodge Durango that had appeared to have blown a tire. On closer inspection (traffic moved a bit) I saw that the tire was blown because the car had caught on fire! It had apparently burned out, however, the front of the SUV was that dry rusty color of cooled metal that was once white hot. After my shock and awe episode, I began to wonder. How does this happen? Was there no antifreeze in it? Did the oil burn up and turn into a thick sludge in the engine’s oil pan?
I am no stranger to this sort of incident. I had seen this once before. A car engulfed in flames on a Chicago freeway like a giant bonfire on the shoulder of the road, it was fantastic! I was surprised to see that no one was roasting marshmallows over the massive flames. Several hours later that same day, I was on my way home and the car was still there. It was a blackened shell surrounded by a mote of melted rubber. They (the owner and police?) let that thing burn to a crisp and just left it there! I guess it’s just safer that way? Let the metal cool down until they have it towed to a wreck yard?
People are hard on their cars. Then again, hours in stop and go traffic with no up keep or maintenance reek havoc on the internal parts of an engine.