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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Farnham
    Posts
    17

    Question Newbie advice needed - who pays a large repair bill?

    Afternoon all,

    I hope you are all in good health and are burning plenty of super-unleaded. I'm a newbie and have a bit of a thorny issue that I'd very much appreciate feedback and advice on. Sorry for the long post, but there's a bit of history that might be relevant.

    Background
    • I bought a 2011 Dax with a small block Southern Roadcraft engine from a dealer in Oct 2019 with 630 miles on it
    • I drove it 5 times covering 70 miles until Easter. It was always a bit tricky to start, but fine once it caught
    • One week after it's first outing this year it caught fire with smoke and flames coming out of the air filter. I put it out quickly with only minimal damage to the filter
    • I called the dealer, who were very helpful and checked with them how to start it correctly, just in case. They said to give the accelerator two long pushes once the fuel pump was running before starting and then wait for a while if it didn't catch
    • I tried again a couple of days later with the bonnet up and it very quickly caught fire very intensely. Proper flames shooting out of the carb several feet high. I managed to put the fire out after about a minute or so with the garden hose. The engine bay was largely intact, but with obvious damage anything plastic/rubber and the underside of the bonnet was blistered. The outside of the car was unscathed other than being a bit sooty. Didn't inspect the underside
    • The dealer arranged for a mechanic to visit to collect the car and he noticed that petrol was flowing into the carb when the key was turned one notch in the ignition (ie when the electrics come on etc, but before the fuel pump starts). This was filling the carb with fuel
    • When the dealer assessed the car they couldn't find anything broken or malfunctioning that would cause a fire and so have put it down to "one of those things that affects old engines"
    • The total repair bill will be about £5k, new carb, alternator, distributor, cables, fan etc + new paint + collection/delivery


    Where we stand
    • The dealer is willing to contribute £1k to the cost as they don't believe they are at fault. Other than not offering to pay in full they have been extremely helpful throughout
    • I don't see what I have done wrong and am not sure that the car is "fit for purpose" under the Consumer Rights Act - ie shouldn't catch fire when started correctly



    So, do I
    1. Pay the bill and argue it out with the dealer for full/substantial compensation. Likely to involve lawyers etc
    2. Accept their offer and see if my insurance will cover the balance
    3. Something else?



    Any advice would be very much appreciated as I'm not used to situations like this and am new to the Cobra scene.

    Thanks in advance
    Russell
    2011 Dax + SRV8 small block

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Chelmsford Essex
    Posts
    1,231
    Your fuel delivery system is at fault as no fuel should be coming out of the carb until you press the throttle. Its not just one of those things as its clearly a fault which I hope they have fixed.
    Regarding who is at fault. You bought the car in Oct 2019 and went back to them in April 2020 ( Easter). Did they give you some warranty at the time of purchase ?
    If you went down the small claims court route you might get some more money as the fault occurred 7 months after purchase.
    You could have claim under your insurance as the damage was caused by a fire which might of been the least stressful resolution. Now trying to claim this after the work has been completed will make your case more difficult.

    Just my thoughts and opinion as I am no lawyer.
    Dax 351 Cleveland T5 2.88 PL

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    STOKE ON TRENT, U.K.
    Age
    55
    Posts
    10,171
    Here is what commonly happens:-
    These cars are not used regularly.
    If parked the fuel.in the carb will evaporate.
    The float will drop.
    The float bowl needle valve will stick due to a multitude of things, but just some oxidation etc is more than enough. Especially over extended periods.... like winter.
    You go to start the engine. Fuel is pumped into the carb, but is not stopped by the now stuck valve.
    The carb dumps the fuel pretty much everywhere and then you end up with a backfire and bingo you are in the middle of a "thermal incident"
    More often than not a gentle tap on the top of the float bowl with the handle of a screwdriver will jolt the valve back into operation and everything it all ticket boo again.
    I have found Edelbrock carbs to be particularly susceptible to this problem.
    HTH.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Bournemouth
    Posts
    319
    Hmm. Difficult one this owing to the time that has passed. However if you can prove the limited mileage you may have some kind of claim. At the end of the day, if you had not touched the car mechanically and it was as bought then it could be argued they sold you a dangerous car.

    Regarding the mechanical aspect, as already pointed out no fuel should appear anywhere until the throttle is opened. And even if fuel was present, it shouldn’t catch alight under normal conditions which indicates the ignition timing is too far advanced. This would also make it difficult to start.

    I would suggest another visit to the dealer to see what he says. If he offers to go over the car then politely decline and get a second opinion from someone unassociated with the deal or the car and explain that to him.
    Without knowing who the dealer is and thus with respect, I would not want him to cover any tracks and leave you with nowhere to go if you do go for a claim outside a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’.

    Cheers,

    David.
    Life is driving the Cobra. The rest of the time is just waiting.

    Wessex region caretaker rep.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Farnham
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by jon1d View Post
    Your fuel delivery system is at fault as no fuel should be coming out of the carb until you press the throttle. Its not just one of those things as its clearly a fault which I hope they have fixed.
    Regarding who is at fault. You bought the car in Oct 2019 and went back to them in April 2020 ( Easter). Did they give you some warranty at the time of purchase ?
    If you went down the small claims court route you might get some more money as the fault occurred 7 months after purchase.
    You could have claim under your insurance as the damage was caused by a fire which might of been the least stressful resolution. Now trying to claim this after the work has been completed will make your case more difficult.

    Just my thoughts and opinion as I am no lawyer.

    Thanks. Although I agree entirely, they say that the fuel system could have been damaged in the fire rather than have caused it and so don't accept that it was identifiable as the cause. I'll maybe try Citizen's Advice to see where I stand
    2011 Dax + SRV8 small block

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Farnham
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by dave View Post
    Here is what commonly happens:-
    These cars are not used regularly.
    If parked the fuel.in the carb will evaporate.
    The float will drop.
    The float bowl needle valve will stick due to a multitude of things, but just some oxidation etc is more than enough. Especially over extended periods.... like winter.
    You go to start the engine. Fuel is pumped into the carb, but is not stopped by the now stuck valve.
    The carb dumps the fuel pretty much everywhere and then you end up with a backfire and bingo you are in the middle of a "thermal incident"
    More often than not a gentle tap on the top of the float bowl with the handle of a screwdriver will jolt the valve back into operation and everything it all ticket boo again.
    I have found Edelbrock carbs to be particularly susceptible to this problem.
    HTH.

    Thanks - most useful info. I'll bear that in mind when I go to start after a lay-off.
    Cheers
    2011 Dax + SRV8 small block

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Farnham
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by Darnpistonbroke View Post
    Hmm. Difficult one this owing to the time that has passed. However if you can prove the limited mileage you may have some kind of claim. At the end of the day, if you had not touched the car mechanically and it was as bought then it could be argued they sold you a dangerous car.

    Regarding the mechanical aspect, as already pointed out no fuel should appear anywhere until the throttle is opened. And even if fuel was present, it shouldn’t catch alight under normal conditions which indicates the ignition timing is too far advanced. This would also make it difficult to start.

    I would suggest another visit to the dealer to see what he says. If he offers to go over the car then politely decline and get a second opinion from someone unassociated with the deal or the car and explain that to him.
    Without knowing who the dealer is and thus with respect, I would not want him to cover any tracks and leave you with nowhere to go if you do go for a claim outside a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’.

    Cheers,

    David.

    Yeah, it's a bit of a pickle - the car has now been repaired by a mechanic suggested by them so there's no evidence one way or the other apart from people's recollections. I didn't think that I'd be asked to contribute more than a small amount and so didn't think about the points you mention. Damn
    2011 Dax + SRV8 small block

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    306
    I have an Edelbrock, and just like Dave said - after an extended period of standing idle, mine did exactly that - but thankfully didn't ignite. All is well with frequent exercise.
    DAX Cobra. May contain nuts. Always read the label.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Christchurch, NZ
    Age
    59
    Posts
    2,384
    I think the dealer's offer and an insurance claim would be the best way to go.
    Cheers

    Myles D-W

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Cheshire
    Age
    51
    Posts
    314
    I put a fuel shut off valve in the boot of my sumo after a scary incident when working on my carbs. I disconnected the fuel hose from one of them and the tank started emptying through it, even though it was higher than the level of the tank. Same principle as siphoning fuel off, I suppose. It occurred to me that if a float was ever stuck in the future then the tank could empty through the carbs and into (and out of) the engine. Now I turn off the fuel from the boot when I put the car in the garage.

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