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328: Strange odor from engine bay:

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by Gatorrari, Jul 19, 2004.

  1. Gatorrari

    Gatorrari F1 World Champ
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    Feb 27, 2004
    13,588
    Georgia
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    Jim Pernikoff
    On Saturday I took my car for a drive north a few miles, mostly on 45MPH arterials with fairly light traffic. As I got on the freeway for the return trip, I was behind a late-model Camaro whose driver put the pedal to the metal, so I did likewise, getting up to 90 (indicated) and staying there. I stayed at 90 for about 4 miles before hitting heavier traffic, and cruised the rest of the way home. I'm certain I never abused the clutch or got near the rev limit (even though my tach reads way low). And I've driven the car harder than that.

    When I backed into my garage I noticed a strange and strong odor coming from the back of the car. I opened the engine cover (as I usually do, to let everything cool off) and the odor was more intense. It was an odor I had never encountered before, and I have no idea what it was.

    I checked to see any leaks but couldn't see any, and the garage floor stayed as dry as always. I took the car on several fairly short trips on Sunday, taking it easy and watching the gauges. The car felt and sounded just fine and the gauges all read normally. The smell has subsided but not gone away completely.

    If I had to describe the odor, the closest I could come to is: burnt oil? But the oil level in the engine reads fine, the oil pressure and temperature were normal on my Sunday drives, and the dipstick smells normal as well. Any guesses?
     
  2. Mike328

    Mike328 F1 Rookie
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    Oct 19, 2002
    2,655
    Boulder, CO
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    Mike
    Funny--I, too, have a very similar smell under very similar circumstances.

    It smells kind of like burnt gear oil in conjunction with burning plastic, but I don't think it's gear oil (just kinda resembles it). Definitely has a burning / smoldering property to the smell.

    I can't figure it out... The only thing I can currently think of is that I have a hose that is in contact with the oil intercooler...

    I can usually detect it faintly in the engine bay after a pretty good run...

    No leaks, either.
     
  3. Gatorrari

    Gatorrari F1 World Champ
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    Feb 27, 2004
    13,588
    Georgia
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    Jim Pernikoff
    The funny thing is, I drove the car harder on the mountain run on July 5, but admittedly it was quite a bit longer between the hard running and returning to the garage.

    Your description of the smell seems appropriate to what I smelled, but when it's a new smell to you, it's kinda hard to compare it to anything. When I opened the engine cover, I almost expected to see some smoke coming from somewhere, but no smoke.

    I'm inclined to believe that I'm not doing any harm to the car in continuing to run it; would you agree?
     
  4. Glen_Lloyd

    Glen_Lloyd Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Dec 13, 2003
    785
    Lloydminster AB
    Full Name:
    Glen
    Sounds like engine oil leaking onto your header pipes, can come from your engine cooler lines, from leaking cam seals around the distributer. Only leaks when the engine is runnig and is an insignifigant amount when it comes to checking engine oil level. How do I know this... that's what I just had repaired on mine. Best to get it fixed if before it gets worse and leads to a huge oil leak and or fire.
     

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