Alternator Fires. The Vehicle Fire Reporter. Lee S. Cole & Associates.
Volume 1, Spring 1997.
Abstract: While most vehicle fires are the result of flammable
liquids found in vehicles, there are also other causes. A malfunction in
the alternator, the device that produces electric current, is another vehicle
fire cause. There has been a recent investigation of alternators manufactured
by Ford. This article provides facts and information from the Ford investigation.
In one instance, the driver smelled smoke and discovered a fire underneath
the hood of his Ford Aerostar. After the Fire Company extinguished the fire,
investigators determined that the wiring at the plug connector melted and
caused high resistance overload. According to the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are 75 fires allegedly caused by the
Ford Alternator. Ford uses a plug connector and not the conventional attachment.
Investigators think that this plug connector develops high resistance over
time and becomes even more dangerous when it is removed and reconnected.
Currently Ford and the NHTSA are conducting further investigations into
Another cause of alternator fires involves repairs. When an alternator
is replaced, the connector should be examined. If the connector is not in
good connection, it should be replaced as well. A damaged connector can
cause wire melting and subsequently cause a fire. The replacement alternator
must also be the correct one for the vehicle. A 75 amp alternator cannot
replace a 65 amp alternator. The additional output can cause melting and
a fire. The article lists other safety precautions to take regarding alternator
For more information, contact:
Lee S. Cole and Associates at 1-800-828-3550