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Fumes and irritating odor from vents

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Hi all!

I mentioned in a previous post my rack and pinion is leaking. Are the irritating fumes as a result of leaking power steering fluid burning?

2000 Honda Civic LX 99k miles

please keep all your questions about this subject here in this topic. Do not create a new topic each time. Thanks.

This is your second and final reminder. Do not create new topics about your fumes, or you will be banned. Thank you.

40 Answers
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Yes, it's most likely running down to the exhaust manifold. You should fix it if it is leaking.

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The air intake is at the bottom in front of the windshield usually where the windshield wipers are. In order for CO to get into the car's HVAC system there would have to be an exhaust leak in the engine bay. You might be getting CO from nearby vehicles especially in heavy traffic. In that case the recirculate mode is appropriate but on the highway or around town with no traffic you should not have to be using recirculate. You can use a home CO detector in a car but they only detect CO's presents and are not very good at narrowing down the source.

If your heater core is leaking you will get a sweet smell in the car. If refrigerant is leaking your AC will stop giving you cold air.

This is serious stuff. You can pass out while driving with no warning. I suggest you go to a competent mechanic and check out the car's exhaust system.

 

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I assume you don't have active oil leak. In this case, you may still smell some of the oils on exhaust that have not been burned out yet. You can use brake cleaner to clean them off or take the car for a good highway driving. Also, change your cabin air filter. 

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Posted by: @jxyooj71

I can smell CO

You cannot smell CO.

About smells.

Monitor oil level to see if it still leaks/burns or not.

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Install a new exhaust manifold.  This subject has now officially been run into the ground.

https://www.autozone.com/emission-control-and-exhaust/exhaust-manifold

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Posted by: @jxyooj71

Is it just breathing fumes ... that makes your throat raspy and irritated? 

Sure. Could be many things.

 

Posted by: @jxyooj71

is it leaking coolant,

is your coolant level going down?

 

Posted by: @jxyooj71

or refrigerant

does the AC work?

Posted by: @jxyooj71

do I just need to have air recirculation on?

re-circulation will cut off the fresh air and keep the old cabin air inside, and it will make the air dryer.

 

Posted by: @jxyooj71

Any ideas

what does it smell like?

Posted by: @jxyooj71

slight headache.

did you check for exhaust leaks?

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Posted by: @jxyooj71

I checked radiator cap, still full.

well if the radiator was low that would be a problem, but what about the reservoir tank?

 

Posted by: @jxyooj71

Still ice cold.

then it's not refrigerant

 

Posted by: @jxyooj71

I can't smell

Then what are you complaining about? LoL   j/k

Maybe somebody else will lend you their nose.

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Posted by: @jxyooj71

my throat is irritated and slight headache.

You need to visit your doctor ASAP to remedy any carbon monoxide poisoning. 

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Posted by: @jxyooj71

Can a worn valve cover gasket cause exhaust smell?

No. An oil leak from a faulty gasket will cause a burning oil smell.

Exhaust smell can only come from the exhaust system.

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Posted by: @jxyooj71

I bought some weld paste and have a hair dryer ready.

Please leave the bees alone..

Posted by: @jxyooj71

Also the urgent care doctor examined me and stated that there's no neurological damage. Someone with more moderate to severe CO poisoning would maybe have passed out or died.

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Posted by: @jxyooj71

I went to urgent care and they actually weren't equipped to do any carbon monoxide testing but kinda was just told I could go to the ER or trust that CO has a half life of 5 hours and I was only dealing with the residual effects of it. Also the urgent care doctor examined me and stated that there's no neurological damage. Someone with more moderate to severe CO poisoning would maybe have passed out or died. I did get flu like symptoms and am doing better tonight.

Well it appears you are were really lucky if there are no serious, long-term effects and you did not pass out while driving which could well have injured someone else as well as yourself.

It should be apparent by now that this 20-year-old Civic needs a lot of work despite the relatively low mileage - it's a "fixer-upper". Now it is even trying to kill you. You either need to commit to doing the large amount of repair work this car seems to require to make it safe and reliable (may not be worth if it you have to pay a mechanic), or get rid of it and buy something newer and in better condition.

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Posted by: @jxyooj71

If anything I might try the DIY by ChrisFix using a shop vacuum to blow and go underneath and check under the hood to find leaks

One thing you might want to do if carbon monoxide is suspected of getting into the car's interior is to buy an inexpensive CO detector that has a built-in battery and keep it in the car. It will alert you if carbon monoxide is detected.

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Posted by: @jxyooj71

If they can't pinpoint the exhaust, should I just take the car to another mechanic? Maybe someone who does smog?

Probably an exhaust shop would be the best bet to check your exhaust system but you want a good local shop, not a chain like Midas or Meineke.

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You are wrong.  If you click on the selection, you will read which ones do and do not meet CARB standards.  Any attempt to repair your existing cracked manifold with tape, epoxy, welding, etc., is a complete waste of time and money. 

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They could be if they squirting on the exhaust they certainly would be

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Why haven't you asked the Star Smog Station this question?

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Posted by: @jxyooj71

I was thinking YourMechanic ... So are they good or not?

I personally have no experience with YourMechani and don't know anyone who does so really can't say. Actually exhaust work is one of the few things I don't work on myself but I have a good local shop for that.

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Topic starter

2000 Honda Civic LX 99k miles

My throat hurts when I turn on my A/C and I didn't put the air recirculation on. I've driven before once and it bothered my throat and eyes. Just now I turned on the car and let it idle and turn on A/C just to double check and yeah, my throat is irritated and slight headache. No check engine light on. Any ideas, or do I just need to have air recirculation on?

Air cabin filter should be new because I paid to have it installed and previous owner didn't have one on for whatever reason. I don't see any residue on any mechanical parts after I got the engine bay cleaned but it was dirty before (not sure if anything is leaking). 

Is it just breathing fumes, or is it leaking coolant, or refrigerant that makes your throat raspy and irritated? 

Edit : I went to urgent care and they actually weren't equipped to do any carbon monoxide testing but kinda was just told I could go to the ER or trust that CO has a half life of 5 hours and I was only dealing with the residual effects of it. Also the urgent care doctor examined me and stated that there's no neurological damage. Someone with more moderate to severe CO poisoning would maybe have passed out or died. I did get flu like symptoms and am doing better tonight.

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Topic starter
Posted by: @mmj

is your coolant level going down?

I double checked and it might be. I can't remember the last time it got topped off. I'm not sure if I have a leak too. Another mechanic told me that the 2000 Civics apparently have blown head gaskets. 

 

Posted by: @mmj

Then what are you complaining about? LoLLoL  j/k

Maybe somebody else will lend you their nose.

I think I'm unable to smell it. Car isn't overheating according to the meter. I don't see any smoke behind me when I start the car but I'm in Cali so idk if dry weather doesn't make things pop out more. 

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Topic starter
Posted by: @mmj

Maybe somebody else will lend you their nose.

Ok I smell it. And there's sadly a bunch of dead bees in the garage. 🥲 I bought some weld paste and have a hair dryer ready. 

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Topic starter

Can a worn valve cover gasket cause exhaust smell?

2000 Honda Civic LX 99k miles

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Topic starter
Posted by: @jlv

Yes, it's most likely running down to the exhaust manifold. You should fix it if it is leaking.

Appreciate this response. Yeah, I got sick two days ago from inhaling so much exhaust I think. I also see a bunch of dead bees in my parking garage area. I'm gonna replace the valve cover gasket. 

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Topic starter
Posted by: @itwt

You need to visit your doctor ASAP to remedy any carbon monoxide poisoning. 

I went to urgent care and they actually weren't equipped to do any carbon monoxide testing but kinda was just told I could go to the ER or trust that CO has a half life of 5 hours and I was only dealing with the residual effects of it. Also the urgent care doctor examined me and stated that there's no neurological damage. Someone with more moderate to severe CO poisoning would maybe have passed out or died. I did get flu like symptoms and am doing better tonight.

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Topic starter
Posted by: @mmj

No. An oil leak from a faulty gasket will cause a burning oil smell.

Exhaust smell can only come from the exhaust system.

So if my mechanic is telling me that they don't suspect an exhaust leak but maybe it's burning oil from a leak from a faulty gasket, then perhaps it's the only thing that's causing my throat to burn, etc.?

I know a bit about cars.
I don't know what you're smelling, and I'm not your physician.

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When my valve cover gasket was leaking, there was smoke coming through the vents from the burning oil hitting the manifold. Smelled like burning oil. BMW X5 2007. 

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Topic starter
Posted by: @mrbob

If your heater core is leaking you will get a sweet smell in the car. If refrigerant is leaking your AC will stop giving you cold air.

I don't smell anything sweet and the car is still pretty cold. So prob exhaust leak or oil burn. 

 

Posted by: @chucktobias

It should be apparent by now that this 20-year-old Civic needs a lot of work despite the relatively low mileage - it's a "fixer-upper". Now it is even trying to kill you. You either need to commit to doing the large amount of repair work this car seems to require to make it safe and reliable (may not be worth if it you have to pay a mechanic), or get rid of it and buy something newer and in better condition.

I decided that I am going to commit to fixing this one. I'm paying a mechanic $1200 for rack and pinion and both leg boots with 2 year warranty as he said the brand he gets he rarely gets any issues with returns. The valve cover gasket replacement $300. He said the '00 Civic was his first car so I'm thinking he should be able to do a really good job. As far as his best guess, this car should last another 5 years? I still hope for this to be better than the 2015 Kia. 

Better have him check out the exhaust system for leaks as well.

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Topic starter
Posted by: @chucktobias

Better have him check out the exhaust system for leaks as well.

As of yesterday the mechanic said he didn't suspect any leaks but I wonder if people work in that environment all the time, they can't smell it? Cuz I drove to him with an N95 mask 😷 but if not exhaust, then maybe it is just leaking oil into the exhaust because he mentioned needing to replace the valve cover gasket. If anything I might try the DIY by ChrisFix using a shop vacuum to blow and go underneath and check under the hood to find leaks.

It occurred maybe I might need to sell but I'm at a financial bind and time. And I'd have to car to commute every day as I share my Yaris with my partner. Thank you for all the advice.

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Topic starter
Posted by: @chucktobias

Better have him check out the exhaust system for leaks as well

The mechanic said they will replace the o rings in the valve cover gasket. They said it might help with the oil burning smell or exhaust smell coming through the vents. If they can't pinpoint the exhaust, should I just take the car to another mechanic? Maybe someone who does smog?

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Topic starter

I just paid $2100 for rack and pinion and rear brakes replacement. Mechanic put new o rings in valve covers. I was told that there's oil on the distributor but as I'm driving home my throat is still irritated. I'm so upset at myself. Anything else I need to know about how to stop oil burning and the smell coming into the cabin?

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