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Old 08-28-2013, 11:10 AM   Thread Starter #1
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Default Exhaust Smell In Passenger Compartment

All,

A few weeks ago I started noticing an exhaust smell coming from the AC vents. It comes and goes with no particular reason or pattern. Almost has a bit of a diesel smell to it.

At first I thought is was coming from diesel cars and trucks around me where is was driving. But no, it's coming from my own car. I can be sitting at a light or driving with no one else around for miles and it will start. Heck, I can be sitting in my own driveway and it will start.

If I reach over and change the AC to recirculate it will stop. So, it's definitely coming from my car, but I don't hear an exhaust system leak anywhere near the front of the car where it might be pulled into the fresh air intake of the ventilation system.

So, where the heck is this coming from?

The only things I can think of is a leak somewhere in the EGR system (hoses, pipes, gaskets, or the valve itself) that leaks exhaust fumes out into the engine bay. Or maybe a PCV valve or hose broken or leaking and I'm actually smelling crankcase gases and not exhaust fumes.

Any suggestions or experience would be appreciated.

Last edited by 05SmokeSE; 08-28-2013 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Exhaust Smell in Passenger Compartment

Originally Posted by 05SmokeSE View Post
All,

A few weeks ago I started noticing an exhaust smell coming from the AC vents. It comes and goes with no particular reason or pattern. Almost has a bit of a diesel smell to it.

At first I thought is was coming from diesel cars and trucks around me where is was driving. But no, it's coming from my own car. I can be sitting at a light or driving with no one else around for miles and it will start. Heck, I can be sitting in my own driveway and it will start.

If I reach over and change the AC to recirculate it will stop. So, it's definitely coming from my car, but I don't hear an exhaust system leak anywhere near the front of the car where it might be pulled into the fresh air intake of the ventilation system.

So, where the heck is this coming from?

The only things I can think of is a leak somewhere in the EGR system (hoses, pipes, gaskets, or the valve itself) that leaks exhaust fumes out into the engine bay. Or maybe a PCV valve or hose broken or leaking and I'm actually smelling crankcase gases and not exhaust fumes.

Any suggestions or experience would be appreciated.
You can go to a reputable mechanic and have a "smoke test" performed. The tech will induce smoke (usually,baby oil) into the exhaust, pcv and see if its leaking anywhere....its very common for diagnosing intake, evap, crankcase leaks etc, but it will show a leak in any air system.
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Old 08-28-2013, 04:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: Exhaust Smell in Passenger Compartment

^^^pretty much the easiest way to go
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Old 08-28-2013, 04:13 PM   #4
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Default Re: Exhaust Smell in Passenger Compartment

im gonna guess and say your exhaust but normally you'll throw a code on that but it could be rear of the final o2
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:50 PM   Thread Starter #5
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Default Re: Exhaust Smell In Passenger Compartment

Two questions:

1. I thought smoke testers would only work on things like the EVAP or other pollution control equipment, not on exhaust? Yes? No?

2. Would a small leak in the EGR plumbing throw a code, or not?

Thanks.
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: Exhaust Smell In Passenger Compartment

Originally Posted by 05SmokeSE View Post
Two questions:

1. I thought smoke testers would only work on things like the EVAP or other pollution control equipment, not on exhaust? Yes? No?

2. Would a small leak in the EGR plumbing throw a code, or not?

Thanks.
1. If you plug both your tailpipes/throttle body and induce smoke lets say through a o2 sensor bung, you would have smoke visible at the path of least resistance ( ie. Your leak source) so the answer again is yes you can use smoke to diagnose exhaust leaks...

2. Depending on "how small" the leak is. If its big enough, it will trigger a Po300 for multiple misfires or p0301-p0306 for individual cylinder misfires. If its a very small leak then no CEL.
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:21 PM   Thread Starter #7
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Default Re: Exhaust Smell In Passenger Compartment

Reporting back with results:

Looks like we found the source of the smell.

There was an oil leak at the base of the front bank's valve cover gasket.

The oil would leak down from there and directly onto the exhaust manifold where it would burn off.

So, the smell was burning oil, not exhaust fumes or crankcase gases which is what I originally thought it was.
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