Could Linda's restored '69 Dodge Coronet be a fire trap? Find out.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 2007

Dear Tom and Ray:

My hubby is getting a '69 Dodge Coronet 440 restored, and the fellow who is doing the work has routed the new gas line through the wheel well. Is this a safety hazard? The car caught fire twice already (both were electrical fires), and the gas line is on my side of the car (passenger). I do keep a fire extinguisher next to me at all times when I ride with him, but I just want to know if I need to buy another extinguisher to put out gas fires, too. -- Linda

RAY: Should you carry another fire extinguisher with you? Yes -- maybe two or three. A flame-retardant suit and a football helmet wouldn't be bad ideas, either.

TOM: Not so much because of the fuel line, but because the car has already tried to fry you twice. That's not exactly a vote of confidence in the guy who's doing the restoration.

RAY: I don't think the fuel line is terribly unsafe in the wheel well. After all, the line is made of steel, and it's usually routed underneath the car, where it's subject to road debris and tall armadillos. So it's pretty tough.

TOM: On the other hand, in the wheel well it would be subject to debris being hurled at it from a spinning tire. And if you're going 75 miles an hour, some of the stuff coming off the tires could be going 150 mph. Or if you have a blowout, a piece of the tire itself could even strike the fuel line. And that may be more than the line is designed to take.

RAY: So I'd have him move it back to its normal position. Why not? In fact, it's probably easier to route it under the car than it is to take it through the wheel well.

TOM: I don't know why he put it there, Linda. But have him put it back in its traditional place. It's easy to do, and it'll mean one less fire you'll have to put out over the coming weeks.

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