My shock as engine dropped out of car while I was driving
A woman has spoken of her horror after the engine dropped out of a car as she was driving it in Belfast.
Sally Moody, a pharmacy dispenser, had only just picked up the 2005 Smart Fortwo from a garage after a service when it happened.
The 48-year-old single mother-of-two said she was extremely lucky because, prior to the terrifying incident, she had been driving along a motorway at 70mph.
"I'd been out picking up prescriptions and was on my way back when I heard a loud bang," the Belfast woman said. "I got out to check and it looked like the engine had fallen out."
She added: "It's scary to think that an engine can simply fall out of a car while you're driving it – particularly as I was doing a reasonably high speed on the motorway earlier. Everyone says I'm lucky it didn't happen on the motorway because I might not have stood a chance. I could have died."
Ms Moody rang Kingsway Cars, the dealer who originally sold the vehicle to her boss, Belfast-based pharmacy owner Adam Fullerton-Healey. It was taken away for examination and Mr Fullerton-Healey was later told that the front engine mount had broken, resulting in the engine rotating forward on to the ground.
Kingsway Cars – which has been servicing the car since it was purchased in 2006 – said it had happened as a result of "normal wear and tear".
Mr Fullerton-Healey then contacted a local Mercedes-Benz and Smart retailer, as well as its UK offices, to express his concerns over safety, especially as his car had passed its MOT in October 2012. "Either the engine mount has broken due to normal wear and tear, or it has broken because it was faulty," he said.
"If it's down to normal wear and tear, surely customers need to know that, after 40,000 miles or eight years, a part could break that results in the engine falling down? If it was faulty, does that mean there needs to be investigation into recall options?"
The Belfast Telegraph contacted Smart /Mercedes-Benz following the incident, which happened at 4pm on April 12. A spokeswoman said there was "no history of this type of incident occurring on Smart cars".
"The Smart was last serviced by a Mercedes-Benz and Smart retailer in 2006 and since then it has been serviced in a non-franchised workshop," she added.
"Unfortunately, because of that we're unable to verify what work has been carried out on the car, or the quality of that work."
Lawrence Murtagh, of Kingsway Cars based in Dunmurry, said the problem was wear and tear as the car had been used to make frequent deliveries.
"The car was in for a service, it was checked over and there was a broken suspension arm which was replaced," said Mr Murtagh.
"It's not that we didn't do checks on it. At that stage the engine was sitting in place on the mounting which is at the very back of the engine, and it would not be a thing you would ever check on the vehicle unless you had reason to."
He added: "That wee car has been over ramps for the last number of years and that has probably put quite a strain on parts like that."