GPS Battery Explosion
If you have a portable GPS. FYI
Don't leave your GPS attached to your windshield in the summer....
An employee at China Lake NAS left their GPS in the bracket attached to the windshield in the sun. The battery overheated and exploded. See the damage in the attached pictures. A good lesson for all of us!
GPS left on Dashboard in the Sun -- and Exploded.
Hoax or Fact:
These photographs allegedly showing significant fire damage inside a car have been doing rounds since many years. The reason for the fire is said to be an overheated portable GPS unit mounted on the windshield (the front window) of car left in Sun that ended up in explosion. These pictures were widely shared through emails as well; however, the fact of the matter is not what is portrayed.
In 2009, the pictures circulated with similar claims, but associated it to an iPhone explosion:
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 (another item to take care of on my to do list). The boys, Jonathan and I were pretty freaked out but we're all enjoying our new car at least.
Feel free to pass this along to anyone you want. Better safe than sorry.
In June 2012, the same pictures were featured in the commentary section of the Edwards Air Force Base homepage. According to the story, an employee at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake (California), left his stand alone GPS unit in the bracket attached to the windshield of his car in Sun, when the battery overheated and exploded. Further, the article mentions that Garmin GPS has recalled its units because of similar issues. As a matter of fact, Garmin did recall some of its Nuvi personal navigation devices in 2010 because their batteries had the potential to overheat and cause fire, but as such, they did not mention heat from Sun can trigger fire.
Upon close observation, from the pictures, we can see that the car has a dashboard-mounted GPS system, which makes a standalone unit (attached to windshield) unnecessary. Also note that the windshield is relatively undamaged.
About the Accident
The fire damaged car in question appears like Chevrolet Suburban 2007 and seems to belong to another fire incident in Kentucky that happened in early 2012. Talking about the accident, the truck owner Trendon Burnett said the fire was possibly caused by an explosion in the GPS mounted on the dashboard. The truck owner admitted he used to leave the Garmins plugged in on all his company trucks because he could not imagine anything like this will happen. Importantly, the fire accident occurred overnight; when there can't be any heat from Sun.
Describing the aforementioned accident, mechanic Mike Boyd said, "Batteries on your car are hot all the time. They carry 12 volt, 12 volt system on most vehicles and if something shorts out, yes it will cause a fire". He also suggested it would be safe to unplug everything all the time and it also applies to stuff like laptops and home electronics. Certainly, leaving your electronics unattended and plugged into their chargers is not safe and can result in a fire or explosion - as the attached pictures illustrate.
In short, these picture messages claiming to show fire damage due to overheating of windshield mounted GPS unit in car left in Sun are hoax. They belong to another incident when a dashboard mounted GPS unit exploded, perhaps because it was plugged in overnight.