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Old 11-01-2018, 04:54 PM   #1
Drw814
 
Drives: 2010 2SS RS
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: CT
Posts: 6
Burning coolant smell in cabin

Hello everyone, first time posting on here. I have a 2010 2SS 6 speed with 9,300 miles. My father bought the car from a dealership this past January, and I bought it from him in August of this year.

Just this Monday (10/29) I brought the car to my mechanic for an oil change. Iíve been going here for years with a variety of different cars. I picked up the car Monday night and drove home no big deal. Then Tuesday morning Iím headed to work. As Iím driving I keep getting hints of burning coolant smell. I get my fist real smell at a red light where I was siting for a while. Then I notice it again parking at dunkin, and again parking at work. When Iím at speed it seems I canít smell it, but if I stop or move slowly in a parking lot it smells.

Iíve never smelled any coolant smell before this Monday. Upon reading it seems these cars have a running issue with leaky heater cores, but I donít know if thatís my issue. I would find it very coincidental that the heater core would start leaking at <10k miles the day after I brought it to my shop. I called the shop and asked if they did anything involving coolant, and they said they topped it off with dexcool. I told them Iím smelling coolant and they told me to check for any leaks and bring it back if necessary. Is it possible they overfilled it and the car is burning the excess? If it is the heater core, my car has a bumper to bumper warranty until mid January 2019. Should I contact the dealer, or wait to get some concrete data? The dealership is about an hour away.

Now itís Thursday, the car is not visibly leaking anywhere, no puddle under the car, or anywhere I can see in the engine bay. The grommet where the hose from the radiator enters the overflow tank was dislodged, so I reinstalled it but that didnít help. I checked the overflow dipstick and it looks like the coolant is at the correct level. I am most likely going to bring it to the shop and see if they can find anything, but is there anything I can check myself beforehand? Iíd rather not spend $2k on a heater core on a car I just bought with 9000 miles. I crawled in the passenger footwell and none of the carpet is damp, and I donít see any signs of fluid anywhere in the above hvac unit.

Thank you in advance for your suggestions.
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Old 11-01-2018, 06:03 PM   #2
HOJO
 
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Fill your overflow tank as that’s also where the radiator pulls from if it needs additional fluid to stay full. Drive the vehicle and see if the overflow level drops after a few days. It would be odd that your heater core would have gone out yet, but stranger things have happened. Could be they spilled some coolant on the engine somewhere and it hasn’t burnt off yet.
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Old 11-01-2018, 07:08 PM   #3
Drw814
 
Drives: 2010 2SS RS
Join Date: Nov 2018
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Update, the car smells with heat or cool air. I put it up on ramps and could smell the scent coming out of the grille, popped the hood and same smell. So now I’m convinced it isn’t the heater core. I think the shop overfilled the overflow reservoir, or the reservoir has a crack in it somewhere. That being said the shop offered to check it out so I dropped it off with them, tomorrow I should know what the source is.
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Old 11-01-2018, 07:24 PM   #4
Rock-It Man
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Get under the car and look for small leaks that never drip on the floor. Many 2010 cars had a faulty thread on the coolant line from the block to the oil cooler. It's on the driver's side of the block and getting under the car is the only way to see it. There was a TBS on this.

If there's any sign of moisture there, you need to get the threads in the block repaired and sealed.
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:55 AM   #5
Drw814
 
Drives: 2010 2SS RS
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Location: CT
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Coolant overflow tank is empty again after shop filled it. While under the car I noticed coolant drops forming under the bottom of the resavoir. It looks like the tank has a small crack in it somewhere, the coolant is probably blowing off it onto the exhaust as I drove. I’m going to let the resavoir run completely dry and see if the smell dissipates. If so that’ll confirm my suspicion and I’ll order a new res.
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Old 11-03-2018, 12:01 PM   #6
KenKat
 
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Drives: 2014 2LT RS Summit White
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Good troubleshooting! It’s good to have a local mechanic for big jobs if you are not inclined to tackle them (I’m not anymore), but if you understand how things work and can do some troubleshooting and basic mechanical work, you can save time, aggravation and money.
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Old 11-05-2018, 11:53 AM   #7
Drw814
 
Drives: 2010 2SS RS
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After driving it all this weekend I’m beginning to think it isn’t actually a coolant smell. It’s not as sweet of a smell as I originally thought. I think it might actually be a hot oil smell. After driving about an hour, I shut the car off, waited a few minutes and checked the oil. The oil level is about 1/4-1/2inch above the max line on the dipstick. Could this produce a smell? Maybe the oil is going through the pcv system and being burned? For some reason I can’t seem to decide what the scent actually smells like.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:43 PM   #8
KenKat
 
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Are you sure they didn’t spill some oil when they did the oil change? It can take a couple weeks to burn off a spill depending on how much you drive it?
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Old 11-06-2018, 07:14 AM   #9
Drw814
 
Drives: 2010 2SS RS
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I’m not sure if they spilled any, the engine bay looks clean enough, I don’t see any obvious oil spills. Last week I brought it to work 2 days (30min each way), and I did 4 hours on the highway this weekend. I would assume that would be enough to burn off a spill? I’m not sure what to think now, I cannot find any signs of any leaking. I just took the intake off to see if there was oil/residue from the pcv but everything was bone dry. The shop offered to take another look at it tomorrow, so for now I’m going with that.
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Old 11-09-2018, 09:12 AM   #10
Drw814
 
Drives: 2010 2SS RS
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Ok, got the car back from the shop. They couldn’t find any leak of any kind, or any residue from a leak. I also cannot find anything at all. The smell is definitely oil (shop agrees) and now I’m at a loss. I’m just going to wait it out, and hopefully it goes away, maybe I’ll grab a new cabin air filter too. Strangely enough I’ve read a few forum threads with people having the same phantom oil smell issue. Oh well, thank you all for your contribution.
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Old 11-18-2018, 04:24 AM   #11
P1100
 
Drives: 2013 Camaro 2SS
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Did you use Mobil 1?

I use Mobile 1 and have an oil smell after chancing oil, lasts for about 400 miles or so. My 2010 corvette did the same thing. Not a heavy smell but it’s there. Only notice at traffic lights or other times when idling. Smell gets into the cabin somehow.

I’m careful with oils changes clean up if there is any mess.

Had the dealer check my corvette for leaks a few times and they did a leak test, no issue. Didn’t burn oil and oil level stayed the same between changes. Read lots of Corvette posts back in 2012-13. It was/is common so didn’t worry about it anymore. Wasn’t surprized my Camaro SS does the same since it’s the same engine.
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