Tesla Model S Fire From Flat Tire & A Tow Truck? Videos


What in the heck happened here? We really need much more information about this reported Tesla Model S fire.

Sadly, all we have to share with you at this point is a steady stream of tweets about this Tesla Model S via ABC7Now reporter Amanda del Castillo. Obviously, a more detailed report and investigation will ensue. However, for now, check out the barrage of Twitter coverage about this Tesla that’s readily available.

ABC interviewed the Model S owner, and he says that the car was being towed due to a flat tire. He’s only owned it for three months and has about 1,200 miles on the car. He claims that he went into the business to handle paperwork, and during that time the Model S caught fire unexpectedly. This seems completely crazy to us, since one would think there would have to be some initiator or catalyst?

Let’s hope that we can figure out what really happened here.

Check out the influx of Twitter coverage below:

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99 Comments on "Tesla Model S Fire From Flat Tire & A Tow Truck? Videos"

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Reporters are more like sports announcers. Why aren’t they finding out information like how the car was towed, was it damaged in some way, etc. The fire looks like it is from the front, I have seen plenty of gas cars catch fire and burn up from flat tires, they overheat, brake fluid catches fire, car ignites, etc.

You, personally, have seen “plenty” of such an occurrence. I find it hard to believe.

I have stopped to help a truck extinguish its burning brake lines, and a friends Saab 9000 caught fire and burned up after driving too long on a flat.

Sample size too small.

There are 150,000+ car fires every year. 149,997 of them are ICE, maybe 3 are BEV’s. BEV’s are selling at about 3% of the US Light Duty fleet sales now, so the amount of BEV’s isn’t small any longer.

We need to compare ICE vehicle vs. BEVs from the same model year. Wear & tear, age, misuse, lack of maintenance, improper repairs, and installation of non-IEM accessories can increase the incidence of car fires. Right now the average age of an ICE vehicle is 12-years old, which include some 20+ year old vehicle that have much lower safety standards than current vehicles.

That is a fair assessment.

The BMW’s that burned last year they were new…

What are you even trying to argue? I am saying this can happen with gas cars too (even just one sample here is enough), we need more information to draw any conclusions about this Tesla. This could have easily started as a brake fire and moved into other systems, or it could have been someone shooting a hole in their floor (and battery) like the Tesla in Pennsylvania that caught fire and not bothering to tell investigators that.

I personally have experienced plenty of such occurrence. Try driving really old gas cars and no money/time to replace all rubber parts on it. It will catch fire, guaranteed.

Drive old car without maintenance, be surprise when thing catches fire. Got it.

Plenty of new cars catch fire too, BMW is recalling millions of late model diesels for engine fires, in Korea alone they had dozens of fires this year. This was only in Korea, worldwide the number of fires has to be hundreds. These are not reported as they aren’t interesting news. Most ICE fires are actually due to fluids getting on hot exhaust.

There is no surprise. Old gassers catch fire, guaranteed.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Well that’s not good.

Still won’t make me not buy a TM3 though.

This wouldn’t slow me down, either, but as we wait for cause I’m remembering Fisker’s fire issue with its cooling system. Had nothing to do with EV batteries, yet became part of the history. Hopefully, this was some clown who gets caught.

It was much simpler than that – the car caught fire because the geniuses didn’t put a fuse in the 12 volt circuit.

Someone probably tried improperly jacking it and punctured the battery.

Maybe. It did have a flat tire prior. Makes me wonder if he jacked it in the wrong spot.

Why would the owner jack it up if the Model S doesn’t come with a spare. The tire shop didn’t work on the car yet.

I hate it that many new cars come with no option for carrying a spare tire or donut. Sometimes you have to wait hours for a tow truck to show up when you could have changed your own flat tire in 10 minutes.

Agreed. Tow truck drivers are unfamiliar with the Model S. Most likely is the TTD picked a bad spot to lift the car and punctured the battery.

I really hope this isn’t case… This should not be a possible failure mode. Perform basic maintenance step in the wrong chassis location should never cause a battery fire. I have faith tesla engineers are smarter.

Try lifting an ICE vehicle by its gas tank and see how things work out…

You could definitely jack up a HFCV like the Mirai by its gas tank, and it won’t leak or catch fire. Just sayin’. 😀

Just as long as the hydrogen embrittlement has not started to kick in yet.

Stop spreading FUD jelloslug. The current generation of HFCV tanks are not made from steel or aluminum. Instead, the tanks are a blowmolded polyamide 6 resin liner wrapped in a carbon fiber epoxy composite that is then covered with a polyamide 6 shell to protect from abrasions. Hydrogen will not embrittle polyamide 6, carbon fiber, or epoxy.


Nah, this doesn’t fit the Foolcell narrative so why bother?

High Fructose Corn Vehicle? Sounds more dangerous than a battery to me 🙂

Ya’ll need to stop comparing ICE and BEVs. They simply aren’t the same. It really is worse to imply that this fire was caused by an improperly used jack, it would be serious engineering incompetence. In none of my comments do I praise ICEs over BEVs, but so many of you get your panties in a bunch at anything remotely critical of current EVs, especially Tesla. Failure mode analysis is a matrix of several factors, including “severity” (how bad would this failure be if it occured) and “frequency” (how easily could this happen). So this failure mode “Puncturing a battery from the undercarriage” should be high on severity, and the only way to counter it is by greatly reducing the frequency (or “likelihood”). Since you bring up ICEs, I would say that the severity is probably lower, a punctured tank is not as likely to result in a fire as a lithium battery module. Furthermore, the frequency is also likely very low because in most cars, the tank is tucked in and usually isn’t the most flat. Its hard to explain, but if you look under your average ICE, the tank just doesn’t seem like a great place to jack… Read more »

Like it or not, jacking a Tesla is not simple. The lift point are recessed and require special jack adapters (they’re not even the same between the different Tesla models). If you don’t use the lift point and use the adapters, you’re risking major battery damage.

I don’t think the lift points are recessed. The recesses are just there to make sure you hit the correct overall lift point. Maybe a bit pedantic but notable.

I’ve lifted my M3 with the jack adapters to install my winter wheels/tires. Also had to buy a low profile jack with flat top to do it.

You may technically be correct that the lift point isn’t recessed, but it does require some an adapter to allow lifting with a jack since the weight-bearing area is so small. You may get away with using a hockey puck.

No. Flat pads. It’s easy.

Pure tow truck driver. Now he will be on hook for brain dead Tesla design. How the hell he is supposed to know and have all kinds of adapters for all different car models on the road, when even factory can’t make their mind which one to use?

I am not getting this part: „being towed due to a flat tire“.
Not a native speaker of English, but I would never „tow“ – like coming from the old gothic (pre German times) „tiohan“ – a car with a flat tyre.

Given the complete lack of info I’d assume something like a flat front tire. They put it on a tow truck that only lifts the front tires and let’s the rears roll. There’s no mechanical link between front and rear but I don’t know if the car can prevent overcharging from regen. I think Tesla requires flat bedding.

Sorry for the firemen.

Why, aren’t they paid while on duty?

Firefighters are on duty for 24 hours a day on 2-day or 3-day shifts (working 48 to 60 hours straight). After spending 6 hours and then all night (another 8 to 12 hours) with the Tesla they go back to the firehouse in the morning and might still be on duty for another 24 to 48 hours. They have to catch up on their sleep throughout the morning and afternoon while also waking up to respond to any calls that come in during that time. In many urban areas including mine, fireman also respond to 911 calls for patients in cardiac arrest (a very common 911 call) in order to improve response times. So at least in urban areas, firemen go out on many calls each and every day.

In contrast, the firemen would spend only 20 to 30 minutes putting out an ICE car fire, then head back to the firehouse while the police and tow truck operator take care of the rest.

I happen to know several firemen in SCC fire dept. The Los Gatos crew would not have followed the car to Campbell, which has 3 stations of its own. Yes, they are all good people but they were just doing their job, for which they are all very well compensated.

“caught fire unexpectedly” – SO there are times you expect it to spontaneously combust for no reason?

In a violent crash, you half expect any car to catch flames… Flat tire? I would call that an unexpected turn of events.

Wow. That firefighter was not happy that he’s going to have to spent all night watching the Tesla in case it catches fire a third time. He just closed his eyes and shook his head when the reporter asked “what the plan was” after spending 6 hours waiting for the battery to cool only to have it catch fire a second time. Then he kept smirking when he said that they’re “going to be here all night.”

Next up will be added taxes on EVs to help out fire depts. that have to deal with the new challenge of battery fires.

As usual we are getting a troll-fest of the few serial anti-
Tesla posters jumping in with their usual FUD.

And BTW, not only serial anti-Tesla but just as much serial anti-EV as their ridiculous FUD posts here demonstrate.

Because its all part of the show Impartial Observer. There are plenty of others.

Impartial Observer said “I’m here to discuss EVs,”

That really has not been your posting history. Your posting history has been largely to ATTACK EV’s and promote fuel cell vehicles. Your agenda doesn’t appear to be to discuss EV’s.

Impartial Observer — You have a long history of attacking people here and generally trying to hijack stories away from the topic at hand and cause trouble. Why is it that you can dish it, but can’t take it?


“Steven Loveday

It wasn’t specifically that comment, but several others in which you argue with people, call them out, call them names, and just attempt to start trouble. ”

You don’t seem to have clean hand yourself. Once you start using the poop emoji to label other people, you pretty much give up any moral high ground:


Thanks Nix, I think it is clear that NOT-Impartial has a clear anti-EV agenda and concurrent pro- fool cell distraction agenda.

I have litterly seen hundreds of ICE cars burned to the ground.
So we might put a fire tax an cars and EV will still benefit vs ICE

Right, but fire depts. know how to handle those fires…

Fire Fighter Not Happy. He Could Have Been at The Fire House Watching His Favorite Show On Big Screen TV Instead,

And making spaghetti.

These cars are catching fire so often there is a lawsuit. Apparently, it takes hundreds of ICE fires to make the news. That’s the type of comment I would expect from an impartial observer. Just sayin.

Not all EVs are the same, please don’t lump them together. Except for Tesla, very few EV traction battery fires had happened.

Tesla with its NCA cylindricals is obvious “leader” in this aspect, not just with multiple fires (too boring to count already) but with multiple fatalities too, likely to exceed old gas car fire fatalities per car/years.

Looks, obviously, like something forward of the battery initiated a fire big enough to eventually cause the leading part of the battery to go into thermal runaway.
Maybe doofus was carrying a can of gas for his weedwacker in the frunk and it spilled leaking over the forward motor?

That’s what I was thinking, too. What’s in Tesla front that’ll spew out flame?

The top image looks like a dragon 🙂

Perhaps the owner had a Boring Company Flamethrower in the frunk. Do those things come with a safety? 😉

“S”s and “X”s spew flames and projectiles in all directions – they are never very well behaved fires at all. I’m not sure the firemen in general know the dangers involved – they are probably just trained on relatively predictable petrochemical fires. More on this on a comment below.

Ok, now my Leaf is starting to look better since it has had Zero documented battery related fires in its overall history.
I did miss a cat 3 tornado by minutes in Port Orchard yesterday too!

Read the article, both local and NHSTA found that the battery pack was NOT the cause or involved, I know cherry picking is easier but the facts are right there in the article had you taken the time to read it all the way.

Yeah, for all the problems early Leafs had with degradation, the batteries in them are safe, in that there haven’t been weird cases of reported battery fires, and reliable, literally, in that few if any of them had their batteries outright fail to propel the car when they had charge (unlike that case with the Bolt).

Congrats on dodging that tornado, luckily no people and hopefully no EVs were harmed in that freaky event. I was in Bremerton when it hit. The entire state of Washington has an average of 2.5 tornadoes a year, and they are typically tiny and unknown to the general public… the last medium sized tornado touched down here in 1972!

The Road Vibration from the Running Flat Tire Likely Caused Some Already Loose Wires/Connectors To Short Out & Spark to Flames …

Reminds me of the song on “How fragile we ar.” by Sting 🙂

NHTSA needs to force these newbie batterycar manufactures to not launch poorly made beta products on the roads, and beef up their quality control. How did these cars get 5* crash testing if it can’t even tolerate a flat tire incident?
I am also conerned who pays for overnight hours for th efirefighters, watching the car for 6 days. Hopefully Tesla or his insurance covers the costs. As a Santa Clara resident, I do have a beef with this. There are much better use of our tax dollars, like building a homeless shelter, keeping the libraries open longer/daily , etc.

They work 2 24 hour days on, 3 days off, or some such. There shouldnt be any overtime costs. If you knew the fraud perpetrated through the benefits they get, you wouldnt even blink about this.

Model S from 2012 is not exactly a new car… More on this below.

I wonder if the car hit some debris and punctured the battery case and tire.

I’m surprised that no one brought up the likely possibility that he hit something that caused both the flat tire and the battery fire, rather than the the issue occurring after the flat tire. While Tesla had beefed up the plate in the front, which had pretty much stopped reports of road debris punctures of the battery pack for years, it’s not invincible.

It only takes one defective cell for a whole pack to go up. A foreign element, like a speck of dust, can over time lead to a short, which may lead to thermal runaway. Usually the short does not lead to thermal runaway, but if it does the whole pack can go up.

A speck of dust, really?

I think you need to experiment a bit with electricity and then come back again.

There we go again, Tesla fires. Yesterday I saw a brand new Cherokee totally burned on my way home, nobody cares but the insurance company and the owner. Insideeves should start a new fire blog now that hundreds of thousands Teslas will be on the route. Suggestion: what about a spreadsheet with EV and Gas fires by month.

Another Euro point of view

EV fires are not happening frequently but the issue is that they take they can re-ignite hours later, I guess some research could help find some ways to better extinguish those fires.

It is already well known by people who do RC models.
You need to put it under water or under sand and keep for days. Should be expensive like hell for real size cars but what else you can do if you must have cars with laptop NCA cylinders on the roads.
Other automakers have brains and their batteries don’t burn that easily.

Now just wait for Tesla Semi with 800 kWh of the same crap! If that pack ever catches fire, it will be national news.

Does “Spent 6 hours waiting for the battery to cool” mean “spent 6 hours dousing the battery” or just “let it sit for 6 hours after the fire looked like it was out” ?

Agree; were they using their thermal cameras and laser thermometers to detect heat buildup and this when to continue cooling?

Hey George Bower and HVACman:

You guys always only seem to do articles comparing metal plates and ribbons in batteries…..

Why not broaden out the scope of your articles a bit, and find out why the “S” is involved in SO MANY fires, yet the similiar Model 3 is involved in very few.

There just HAS to be a reason why the 3 is safer fire wise….. They’ve sold so many ‘3’s that just by the numbers there just has to be a reason why it doesn’t catch fire as often.

They sold a lot of 3s but the miles probably matter more. Most of the fires are from severe collisions or puncture of the pack. The 3s have be on the road longer probably before they encounter enough similar scenarios.

You can’t really claim at the moment the 3 is safer.

It is early data-wise, but I tend to agree on this one Bill. Time will tell. The thing that really frustrates me is how all the data on ICE fires have been pulled from sites. It is pretty obvious that an ICE is more likely to catch fire as its hoses age. This is their #1 cause of fires. We have eight years and billions of EV miles and somebody doesn’t want to make the comparison. Though I disagree that 10-20 billion miles are not enough data, why is all of the ICE data missing all of a sudden?

ABC updated the news story on the Tesla fire and posted video from its evening newscast. The owner describes the TPMS sensor warning him that the pressure quickly dropped to 20 and he pulled over. He also says that this is last Tesla his family will own.


…because he is a doofus and probably trying to scam his insurance company.

I listened to his comment: He said he was afraid that IF it had caught fire in his attached garage his whole house would be gone.

Armchair BigExperts who will never buy an electric car don’t have any concerns, but those of us who really buy any kind of vehicle are of course concerned about the car’s behavior when unattended since we have so much at risk.

Not sure what thread you were attempting to respond to. This one was from Bill Howland’s comments on the Model 3. I agreed and expounded on the loss of ICE data. Is that you Mark Spiegel?

I think its our thankfully departed troll 7 Pretend Electrics re-registered under a new username.

I though I read somewhere that the tm3 has some sort of fire suppression chemical added during the ribbon assembly of the packs. I also thought that was new for the tm3 vs the tms.

Ha, ha, Nissan LEAF has battery degradation but Tesla Model S has battery detonation!
Never fun watching a car burn.
Ok, maybe they need to invent a portable pool thingy that they place around the vehicle and then fill with water. Submerge the battery really quickly into the pool of water to bring the fire under control as well as cool the battery pack. With our materials science you would think something like this would be reasonably cheap and possible.

Most likely they drug the wheels of the car and it was on.

This is one of the reasons I love owning a Tesla. This fire does sound concerning, but thankfully any issue with a Tesla is quickly reported and discussed by Tesla fans, the media, and all of the haters. I have no doubt Elon Musk and his team are digging into to this and will get to the bottom of the issue faster than any other car manufacturer could do. It is crazy how many issues can be solved by pushing out over the air software updates to the entire fleet. This is not the first time something he has worked on caught fire or blew up and it won’t be the last. But for now I feel safe in my Model 3 which is the safest car ever tested by the NHTSA.

Insurance Institute for HIghway Safety (IIHS) doesn’t agree. — BTW NHTSA has constantly disciplined Tesla for saying they are the safest.

Yesterday, IIHS had their top safety picks out. 30 cars won. Not a single American Car, and that means zero Teslas.

Only non-Asian winners were BMW and Daimler.

IIHS said they were impressed since their standards are tougher this year, but only 15 won last year.

The IIHS hasn’t rated the Tesla vehicles yet. I sent you a message about this yesterday.

They haven’t fully tested the Tesla Model 3, so it can’t be a Top Safety Pick. It earned a superior for its front crash prevention, but that’s all that was tested. It can still be a Top Safety Pick once the rest of the testing is completed. However, it can’t be a Top Safety Pick+ due to getting an Acceptable rating for its headlights. In order to be a Top Safety Pick or TCP+ it has to have an Advanced or Superior rating for front crash prevention, which it does. We’ll see where the other ratings come in.

The 2018 Model S wasn’t tested, but we’ve been told the headlights have been improved. The similar 2017 model has all the crash test ratings and front crash prevention that it needs to be a Top Safety Pick, but it misses the mark due to Poor headlights. The Model X wasn’t tested by the IIHS either.

So, you can’t really say that these cars were not Top Safety Picks since none of them have been tested.

As I tried to explain, they can’t be a top safety pick by definition then. Let us wait until they test them. You guys, just project that they’re a Tesla so they have to win. That is just silly. The time they were tested they lost for crappy headlights. They LOST. It is just a silly projection to say that they will achieve something prior to it happening.

Two things they have to pass is the front passenger and driver small overlap test. You guys cannot project that they will win prior to testing.

I never gave any indication or projection that it would happen. I said it may or may not. You’re telling people it DIDN’T happen for the Model 3, but that’s not the case since it wasn’t tested. It may happen or may not, but you can’t just go telling people that it already failed. That’s completely false. And yes, I’m as concerned as you that there’s not a single American car on the list, so we should both surely hope the Model gets designated as a Top Safety Pick so that there will be an American car with the honor. But, who knows.

You are twisting my words again. This is what is called ‘projection’. You are making accusations of something you are doing. They either have REACHED the Level of Top Safety PICK or they have not.

They have LOST in the sense that they were not good enough at the time of the test due to crappy headlights.

They still have yet to win, since now a Small overlap test has to be Stellar on both sides of the car to WIN.

All cars have ‘lost’ this award until they have WON it.

It is deceptive to state that ‘they would have won it, if it wasn’t for the crappy headlights’ since the Standards are much tougher this year.

The Model 3 hasn’t been tested. I’m talking about the Model 3. You’re talking about the Model S. I know the Model S failed due to Acceptable headlights. However, the IIHS has not deemed the Model 3 a Top Safety Pick, but it has only tested its front crash avoidance. It hasn’t been put through the other tests and its headlights have not been tested. I’m saying you were telling people that the IIHS doesn’t agree with the NHTSA in saying that the Model 3 is safe. But, since the IIHS hasn’t tested the Model 3, that is false information. They can’t disagree with the NHTSA until they actually crash test the Model 3. So, in the end, I’m saying that you shouldn’t tell people that ALL Teslas failed, nor should you tell people that the IIHS doesn’t think the Model 3 is safe, when neither of those statements have been substantiated yet. And, the Model X hasn’t been tested either. I have no clue how the Model 3 or Model X will fare. They may fail miserably, but we can’t say they failed until they do. We also can’t say they won. I hope neither fails, because like you,… Read more »

All cars lose no matter who makes them, of reaching a certain distinction if they haven’t yet been tested.

You are getting all ‘hung up’ over the words that since they haven’t won yet, that is somehow bad.

For some reason you continually twist what I say – the fact that I point out that some cars have not reached a certain distinction for some reason bothers you.

I * HAVE NEVER * said any car will not EVER reach a certain level of distinction in the future. I merely am indicating that it as of today has not yet.

Owner is probably one of those geniuses who gets a flat tire, and then proceeds to drive 50 more miles at full freeway speeds, risking overheating of any number of parts of the suspension and wheel housing due to abnormal friction and vibration. Fire likely starts due to this cause, eventually triggering the nearby battery to overheat.

Same situation (assuming the same driver, make the same bad choices) could have also happened with an ICE vehicle.