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macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 11, 2008
This is a note from a local chemical plant employee that had a bad experience with results that could have been tragic. This is also a good reminder that all garages should be equipped with working smoke detectors or fire alarms.

Hi All,

As some of you may know, we had a pretty scary incident recently. Attached are pictures of what remains of our 2007 Suburban. We are all okay but I wanted to warn everyone not to make the same mistake I did.

This fire resulted from leaving an Iphone charger/docking station plugged into the car outlet. It overheated and started a fire, while parked in our garage. PLEASE unplug anything you have in your car outlets once you turn off your car!

We were VERY fortunate that we accidentally found the fire, at 11pm, before going to bed and before it spread to the house. None of our garage heat detectors or house fire alarms went off.

Feel free to pass this along to anyone you want. Better safe than sorry.


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macrumors newbie
Oct 28, 2009
Most new vehicles have a 12V outlet that is always on.
Besides I don't see anywhere in the OP that their iPhone was plugged in at the time of the fire.

The only time leaving a device plugged into your vehicles 12V outlet is a problem is it could kill your battery if it's drawing power or if, as apparently happened in the OP, the device is faulty and does exactly this.

I'm all for calling 'shenanigans' in a knee jerk fashion when it comes to the internet but make sure your logic is firm.

If this is a one off incident then we wont hear anymore about it. BUT, after seeing this I won't be ignoring the fact that my own charger gets quite hot, enough to give me pause when I noticed, and will definitely be more wary of the quality.


macrumors 68040
Jun 8, 2009
the way i understand it is.... they left the charger plugged in.... not the iphone itself!

i do that.... leave my cable plugged in all the time.... however i leave it plugged into the one that is only powered when the car it on... it's easier (lazy) for me to just plug the phone in when i need to rather than having to also plug in the charger, which is in my center console.

we did add an always on plug but i only use it on rare occasions and when i'm done using it i unplug that cable so as to not run down my battery!


macrumors 65816
Nov 4, 2008
Yes, the charger was plugged in. I have had this happen before (not severely) but I had this converter to plug my ipod into and it played music through the radio station i set it to. I unplugged my ipod from my car but left the charger plugged in. I came out the next morning to find that my battery was dead. So indeed the car's battery is still running through the sockets, it just doesn't have the engine to keep recharging the battery. So basically the car's battery just forced too much power into the charger, and the charger overheated causing the fire.

Knowlege Bomb

macrumors G4
Feb 14, 2008
Put a new windshield in and it should be drivable. ;)

On a serious note, I will certainly be unplugging my charger at the end of the day from now on.


macrumors newbie
Sep 2, 2009
If my eyes serve me right the two 12v ports are the ones at the bottom and one has the cover open? There is no damage to it. I would think it would look charred and also the fuse should have protected this from happening. I don't know maybe it could. I'm def. not CSI.

Probably a eBay charger. If it happens to me I hope it totals it. :)


macrumors 68020
Jun 4, 2009
Why does it have to be fake or a chain letter? It is possible for a top-of-the-line product to catch fire, it doesn't have to be an "ebay" charger. Whether or not it was an iPhone charger, it is still possible.

If my eyes serve me right the two 12v ports are the ones at the bottom and one has the cover open? There is no damage to it. I would think it would look charred and also the fuse should have protected this from happening. I don't know maybe it could. I'm def. not CSI.

Probably a eBay charger. If it happens to me I hope it totals it. :)

I can see what you are getting at, but the charred part is right above the socket, which if it was the charger that caught fire, the charing is consistent. I want to be a CSI lol but I can still be wrong.


macrumors 68040
Jan 15, 2008
It makes no sense to leave a charger plugged into the outlet in a vehicle, even if a device is not plugged into that charger. The reason is because some chargers have electronics inside them that would still be using electricity, thus making the charger an energy vampire and can run down your vehicle's battery. And if the OP's story is true, then this is another reason not to leave it plugged in.

I always unplug electronics when not in use in my vehicle.


macrumors regular
Sep 28, 2009
I'm pretty sure my 4Runner does not leave the 12V outlet on after I turn off the car. I didn't read this in the manual, but the fact that my TomTom has a pop-up message saying "Unit unplugged, powering off in 5...4..3..." tells me that the 12V is effectively off. As such, I feel fine leaving my chargers plugged into the 12V. Is this not good?


macrumors 68040
Jan 15, 2008
Is this not good?
As long as the outlet is not powered, it's fine.

But I would unplug it anyway because we are creatures of habit and you may end up leaving the charger plugged in with another vehicle where the outlet is always powered on.


macrumors newbie
Nov 20, 2010
Fire in the Suburban

We just had our 2007 Suburban go up in flames this morning! However, although we had an ipod charger plugged in, the fire started in the driver door which seems completly unrelated to the iPod charger story above.

What I'm interested to know is how did the insurance company treat this claim? Was the truck considered a write off? Did you get GM involved? Was this covered under their warranty?

It seems to me, that no matter what you leave plugged in the car or truck the only acceptable risk is a drained battery but NEVER EVER a fire - I consider that a design flaw.

Would love to hear thoughts on this.
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