The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation looking into older model Smart Fortwo cars that can catch fire.
About 43,000 cars are covered by the investigation which includes Fortwo models from the 2008 and 2009 model years. Eight fires have been reported to the agency, in every case with the fire rapidly engulfing the car. In six of the cases, smoke, the check engine light or an unusual noise preceded the fire, while two of the owners had no warning.
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One owner says that they heard a loud pop from the rear engine compartment, at which time they pulled over and saw flames coming from the engine bay. “Had I not pulled off to the shoulder when I did, my story would not be coming directly from me but from my obituary,” wrote the unidentified owner.
NHTSA is now looking into both the cause of the fires and the frequency to determine if this pose a systemic safety risk. So far, Mercedes has not commented on the investigation.
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