Vandals, lighter fuel, glass & paintwork - andymc {P}
Last night, a friend of mine had the unpleasant experience of some vandals chucking what he thinks was lighter fluid over his car and setting it alight. Fortunately, he happened to walk past his window just after it went "whump", so he was able to extinguish it pretty quickly - you may say foolishly rather than fortunately, but it was right beside the house & he just thought of avoiding a complete disaster. Anyway, I called round at lunchtime to see him & we looked at the car. From 10 feet away you can't really see anything, and what marks there are on the paintwork seem to be sort of tar/soot deposits rather than actual scorching - the little blotches seemed to come off with a warm soapy cloth & some elbow grease. He'll be washing it thoroughly today to get a better idea of whether there's any serious pitting/blistering. Unfortunately, the rear wheelarch did partly melt and shrivel, so while it didn't actually drip onto the tyre & set it alight (which would probably have meant the whole car going up), it will definitely need replacing, as it's nearly half its original size - is this possible without replacing the whole bumper? Any thoughts of whether he'll end up needing a respray, or if a T-Cut and polish might be adequate would be very welcome. Can lighter fluid have a corrosive effect on paintwork even without combusting?

Another concern I have is that the fluid was thrown onto the roof of the car at the rear and set alight as it ran down over the rear windscreen (then down over the bootlid and into the wheelarch). As I said, it was extinguished within less than a minute, but I'm concerned about the effect on the glass of the rear windscreen - I know that toughened glass, if affected by fire, will shatter into hundreds of little crystals rather than big shards. At the moment his windscreen is in one piece but I would be concerned that its integrity may have been compromised, especially as he has two young children - don't like the idea of them being showered in glass going over a speed bump. Am I right to think he should try to replace it, or just being a bit paranoid? I appreciate that it can't be seen here, but if I tap it with a fingernail it seems to "sound" more brittle than the other windows, if that makes sense. I'd be very grateful for any advice or technical input on any of the above.
It's a Peugeot 406 saloon, blue metallic paint.
andymc
Vandals, lighter fuel, glass & paintwork - Robin the Technician
Hi,
Lighter fluid is made of pretty cheap, crap fuel which has a tendency to smoke a lot when a lot of it is burnt. That said, it doesn't generate a great deal of heat if burnt in a small quantity. Cars of today are laquer coated and if the paintwork had been damaged in any way it would have removed the laquer and you would be left with a type of matt finish. If its ok then it hasn't got sufficiently hot to cause damage.
As for the glass, I think of my kitchen saucepans which are made of glass and are used on a gas hob. Glass takes an inordinate amount of heat to cause damage and lighter fuel for one minute is certainly just enough to get it just warm. I believe that after dousing the flames you could have placed your hand on the screen as any heat would have dissipated across all of it. I think you are worrying unecessarily.
Can;t advise about the plastic on the wheel arch?? I've got a pug 406 estate and there's no plastic on mine, so I can't advise on that. A trip to the pug dealer will confirm if the bit you are referring to is available.
Hope this helps


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These are the views of Robin the Technician with 35 years in the trade. I fix, therefore I am...
Vandals, lighter fuel, glass & paintwork - Sooty Tailpipes
I would have thought lighter fluid would be a bit expensive to use to burn a car! but it won't harm paintwok IMHO, as I use it to clean tar splashes off and before using a touch-up brush sometimes.

Most of the heat will have gone upwards away from the paint, an old party trick is to put a small puddle of lighter fluid in the upturned palm of your hand and light it, it doesn't get hot for about 5 secs, at which point you just clap.
Vandals, lighter fuel, glass & paintwork - andymc {P}
Thanks for the replies, I feel a bit reassured. I should have been clearer about the wheelarch - it's the inner part of the wheelarch that's normally hidden from view unless you hunker down and look in above the wheel, or that you would see when changing the wheel. I guess if any of the fluid had managed to burn through the seals around the boot and then penetrate through to the interior it would have gone up pretty quickly after that. I spoke to my friend a little earlier this evening and he said he'd used T-Cut to remove the rest of sticky deposits, so he's happy enough with the result.

We think it was lighter fluid because the same kids sprayed it on a random passer-by and threatened to "light her up", before laughing and moving on to (by chance) my friend's car. Fortunately, the same kids were dumb enough to buy it from the CCTV-covered filling station shop down the road, so hopefully they'll be taken out of circulation for a bit fairly sharpish. Why the shop assistant felt it was okay to sell it to them is another question. Anyway, I know I'm now getting things off my chest, but I didn't intend this to be a social commentary thread, so I'll just wrap up by saying thanks again for the input, especially regarding the glass.
andymc
 

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