Apple iPhone-iPod car Adapter Starts Car Fire

Those of you who are constantly leaving your DC iPhone and iPod automotive car chargers plugged in will want to think twice after reading this email.

One good thing to learn from this is, while this is directly tied to the iPhone and iPod chargers, there is no reason that one should ignore caution and leave plugged-in without adequate reason any type of automobile AC charger for any electrical device.

The iPhone and iPod Electrical Fire Memo

The following is an internal memo after the electrical fire incident occurred initiating from the left-plugged-in ac automobile adapter:


Attached are pictures of a 2007 Chevy Suburban destroyed as a result of an electrical fire.

This fire resulted from leaving an I-phone charger/docking station plugged in the car’s electrical outlet. The charger unit overheated and started a fire, while parked in a residential garage. The owners of the vehicle were fortunate that they accidentally found the fire, at 11 P.M., before going to bed and before it spread to the house. None of the garage heat detectors or house fire alarms went off (which is another item that should have been tested Monthly)

This is a reminder that ALL in-car chargers should be unplugged when the vehicle is unattended. As electronics have proliferated in our lives and vehicles it is not unusual to find multiple 12-volt receptacles in vehicles.







Signature Removed for Privacy Reasons

  • Candace Hess

    When I turn off my car, the outlet is not active and would not work to charge anything. How come this could have happened?

  • P. Tanner Williamson

    @Candace Hess, Not all vehicles cut power to their outlets when turned off. Many stay active. You will need to check your own vehicle to see for sure if it cuts power, or if the adapter is constantly on. Most will turn off, but I’ve noticed that at least one of the Ford (aka Lincoln, Mercury, Nissan, Infinity) vehicles my family has owned did not, specifically a 1998 Ford Tarus. I would highly recommend testing it out, and if you’re still unsure of if it has power to it or not, call your mechanic and ask them to have an electrical systems specialist consult the inquiry and get back to you with a firm answer.

  • laquisha

    this story is now circulating as weblore with slightly changed or added information

  • Lynah Stone

    The same thing happened to my car THIS MORNING october the 28th. The car was in use when the converter caught fire. I was able to get out of the car before the whole thing was engulfed in flames! The only thing left on the inside of my car is the metal gear shift and the metal faming of the seats and dashboard. My model was a Belkin. DO NOT USE THIS MANUFACTURER!!!

  • P. Tanner Williamson

    @Lynah Stone,

    I’m sorry to hear that. Hopefully your insurance company will not give you any trouble in processing your claim. I will absolutely make note of the Belkin brand causing problems as well.

  • Sheree

    Sorry, but I’m expecting this to be on Snopes soon. I got it internally in our company saying it was someone in Houston in our drilling operations.
    I have left my phone charger plugged in my car for YEARS! Often charging my phone while the car was off and in the garage. It gets warm when I’m charging the phone, but that’s about it.
    This seems like a fake warning to me. Maybe it happened once and the device, the battery or the cable was faulty. An exception.

  • Amy

    I also have a 2007 Chevy Suburban. I have been leaving my iPhone plugged into the suburban each night for almost four years. The same incident as describe above happened to me yesterday. I was fortunate enough to go to my vehicle around 9 pm last night, at which point I discovered my charger was on fire and melting. The heat had melted a portion of my console area. Luckily, I didn’t have any major damage to my vehicle.

  • RoRo

    Snopes be hanged, I know this to be true from the experience of my immediate supervisor, who came to work this morning (11/04/09) saying that her car, also a Suburban, could have burned up if she had not gone out when she did to get her Apple iPhone out of her car where she had it plugged in. She found the interior of the vehicle filled with smoke and a little mat on the console in flames and the charger melted. Do not leave your phone unattended while on charge and beware when it’s charging in your car.

  • Tim

    Wow. I didn’t even think it was possible. Time for me to sell my iPod and get a Zune!

  • Nathaniel Abbott

    First of all I can’t see this as being caused by the iPhone charger, especially in this specific vehicle. Secondly if you have enough money to afford the iPhone, It doesn’t make any sense to use an off brand mobile charger for your absurdly expensive device. Any apple made vehicle charger has the charging unit contained in the stem of the the charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter in the dash or other locations. That being said in the pictures the heat damage / fire appears have taken place behind the cigarette lighter. Also the stereo configuration on the vehicle has the auxiliary plug which I’d use over any docking station that transmits via FM signal. Also why isn’t the fried iPhone/charger photographed? There would be some evidence left behind of it. Why isn’t specific Make model Information listed? I don’t know about you but I don’t believe everything on the internet. I need to test it and verify it then I’d be more inclined to back it up.

    But, I do agree with the fact you should always unplug anything in the cigarette lighter / auxiliary outlets whenever your not in the vehicle.

  • P. Tanner Williamson

    @Nathaniel, I think that is an excellent observation, regarding the off brand chargers.

    I too had noticed how it seems like the damage had started on the inset part of the cigarette lighter / power outlet. It is a tad bit unfortunate that there were no pictures of the charger device itself. With the damage around it, I would at least expect to see some sort of semi-melted device protruding from the charger outlet. Chances are, it would have had a plastic housing, and thus, with the heat, would have melted and formed around the charger outlet in such a way that a quick removal wouldn’t be worth it, so I agree with you, I would be expecting to see the charger still somewhere in the vehicle.

  • TaVon

    GM and Ford cars have the cigarette adapters powered directly from the battery instead of a switched power supply. Toyota’s and Honda’s have the cigarette adapter powered from a switch power source usually relayed from the ignition and therefore this can’t happen. That’s what you get with an American car.

  • Bryan Galloway

    If it is on the internet internet it MUST be true!

    Use your intelligence people, I have the same images in my e-mail from a SPAM of this waste of time. I like the stamp on ‘your’ copies though. 8)

    This first circulated 2 weeks ago, no official news story about it, no actual location of where it happened, besides rumor??


    C’mon people. Stop spreading lame wastes of time. Lord, thank you for the intelligence of these people.

    Oh, and btw, I wanted to let you know I’m a big hypocrite! I’m a pastor, and I love telling y’all what a bunch of idiots you are. See my hypocritical posts here:

    Lord, thank you for this wonderful iPod and for my big mouth!

  • Rebecca

    @ Tim (5 November 2009 at 8:08 am)

    This event (if true) had more to do with the power outlet in the 2007 Suburban than it did with the item that was plugged into it. The photos makes it pretty clear that the fire happened behind the dash, and as noted in comments above, there aren’t any photos of the burned charger. BTW, Apple does not make a car charger. Other companies (Belkin, Griffin, etc) make car chargers for use with an Apple iPhone.

    If true, Chevrolet is the producer of a faulty product, not Apple. I’d really like to know more details about this. Another version of this forwarded email is written in the first person and they claim to be enjoying their new car. I am curious if they got their new car for free and who was determined at fault for this accident. More details are needed!

  • ChrisV

    @TaVon, my BMW also leaves the outlets on when the key is of, as do any number of other imports, as the “cigarette lighter” is now often considered simple a 12v outlet that can be used for powering devices when parked, say at a picnic site or beach, etc. So it’s not just “what you get with an American car.”

    Any decent charger has fuses in it, and every 12v power outlet/cigarette lighter outlet is on a fused circuit.

    If the charger overheated it would be melted, or at least still stick in the outlet. The fact that these pictures are circulating the web and emails with different captions as to who it happened to leads me to believe that something else happened, someone found the pictures, and made up a story to go along with them. I’m willing to bet it has nothing to do with a car charger, or even with the fact that it’s a Suburban/Tahoe.

  • Beverly Alford

    Thanks for warning!  I passed this to my friends and family to make sure they are aware of this.