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Burning Oil Smell


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Every time I park the car in the garage after a drive I smell oil. I can only describe it as oil that's leaked onto an exhaust manifold. It doesn't matter if I've driven the car hard or not. I've checked for leaks and found nothing. No drops on the floor anywhere. Yes, I checked that too, no RMS issue thank goodness. The digital oil gauge has only gone down one bar in the past 4500 miles. Before I bring the car into the dealer I was hoping someone might have an idea what the cause is. What do you think? Thanks in advance for your help.

Pat

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Cosmoline is a brown colored anti-corrosion spray that covers the underside of the car (for the trip over on the boat). Many times it can get on the exhaust or other parts where it smells when hot. Cosomoline will not hurt anything and does not need to be removed, It doesn't smell exactly like oil more like a waxy odor.

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Pat, it's funny that you bring this up. I can't say that my car smells like burning oil after a ride, but it does smell of something buring. I've often thought it was electrical or something, but who knows.

A week ago my wife was driving my car (a very rare occasion if I can help it :D ), and she smelled something burning. She had the good sense to park it at home. Naturally, I was in a frazzle when I got home, but I could find nothing (visually burning). Most of the smell seemed to come from the left (driver) side. But that was a week ago, and no problem to date.

I have always noticed a burning smell, and the smell after my wife complained was no different. I am beginning to attribute it to the engine being in the rear, the spoiler vents allowing quick vertical exit of the heat and other smells, being in close proximity to the rear of the car upon exit, and being in a closed garage. Perhaps with other cars, which have a grill in front, and no vertical means for gasses to quickly escape, we don't smell the gasses given off. Just my theory (perhaps to comfort myself!).

Dean

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Pat, it's funny that you bring this up.  I can't say that my car smells like burning oil after a ride, but it does smell of something buring.  I've often thought it was electrical or something, but who knows. 

I think this may be normal, as since new my car has experienced the same symptoms.

I have travelled just over 3000Kms now and it is still there. I have checked for burning/leaking items etc. but none found.

My brother in-law says it smells like POP-CORN cooking :lol:

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Pat, it's funny that you bring this up.  I can't say that my car smells like burning oil after a ride, but it does smell of something buring.  I've often thought it was electrical or something, but who knows. 

A week ago my wife was driving my car (a very rare occasion if I can help it :D ), and she smelled something burning.  She had the good sense to park it at home.  Naturally, I was in a frazzle when I got home, but I could find nothing (visually burning).  Most of the smell seemed to come from the left (driver) side.  But that was a week ago, and no problem to date. 

I have always noticed a burning smell, and the smell after my wife complained was no different.  I am beginning to attribute it to the engine being in the rear, the spoiler vents allowing quick vertical exit of the heat and other smells, being in close proximity to the rear of the car upon exit, and being in a closed garage.  Perhaps with other cars, which have a grill in front, and no vertical means for gasses to quickly escape, we don't smell the gasses given off.  Just my theory (perhaps to comfort myself!).

Dean

LOL this describes my situation to a T!

I am the new owner of a 2000 Porsche 911 C4 cab 6speed. I bought it from a dealership in Florida, and upon delivery I noted the smell after my first drive. The car needed new tires BADLY, so while getting this done AND getting the 30,000 mile service done, the dealership informs me that my clutch is almost shot and *could* be the cause of the smell (I listed it as a complaint on my service ticket). So, even after a new clutch, I am STILL experiencing this smell.

It doesn't really bother me, but being a new Porsche owner, I am wondering if this is normal or not. My wife (in the last 5 days I have owned the car) is always asking me "Is that smell normal?" It definitely is exacerbated by being in a closed garage.

Also, whenever I am taking a turn and I hit any kind of indention (e.g. turning into the driveway), I hear a loud clunkish/body flex noise. Any ideas on that?

Thanks guys (and gals), and I am glad I found this forum :-)

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Iv'e had all sorts of smells over the last 4 years. Could the smell be simply break dust or even rubber from the tyres (especially the rears). Non-Porsche approved break pads smell like burning oil. I have been down that route before unfortunately....never again. Other thing to think about is the fuel your using.

Diesel smells awful :jump:

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your noise could be a bushing in the front end that is not tightened properly, though one would really have to be there to make a truely informed guess ...

Thanks for the response, Ted. I failed to mention the bushings were replaced at the time of me getting the 30,000 mile service, the new tires, new clutch, and a Mass Air Flow Sensor replacement.

Pardon my extreme ignorance, but can the bushings be adjusted???

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Another possibility might be the positive crank-case ventilation valve, this could cause the smell of burning oil after a hard run. This is a normal occurence. The master tech at the dealer recommends keeping the oil level one marker bar below full on the digital gauge, if you're tracking (hard driving) the car.

Edited by dj996
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  • 8 months later...

right got the smell this weekend after a weekend of hard driving in the welsh mountains, not burning oil though as after years of air-cooled VW Beetle's in South Africa and a few blown engines' I know the difference between burning oil and something else. My smell can be best explained as sulphur, the smell you get after you blow out a lit match... glad that i'm not alone, but if anyone would like to confirm that it's similar to their smell that would be great

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For what its worth my 996 C2 is now 5 years old but only has 20,000 miles up. I have had a similar problem since new and its still there. No change in the intensity during that time. Even after a short drive at low speed its there.

It clears quickly, probably half a minute and you dont notice it. I have had no oil leaks, RMS or clutch problems. A friend has an early 996 and the first thing he asked me when he bought it a few months ago was ''whats the hot smell''. His has done about 40K.

Mine is manual his is tip.

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I had intended to write in with this same question after I got my 1996 996 in December of 2003. The car had only 15K on the clock when I bought it. I noticed "the smell" which as best I can describe it, was (is) very much like the smell of burning rubber, like overheated electrical insulation, but not quite as pungent. Not like burning oil, I have owned many earlier 911s from '76s through the SCs, and know what oil on the heat exchangers smells like...

The underside of my engine is dry as a bone, as far as I know there are no clutch issues, and I notice the smell from the driver's side wheel well nearly every time I drive the car. Not sure I can suggest anything to cause it unless it be the cosmoline.

Just thought I'd chime in with another report to let the other posters know it does not seem to be an isolated problem.

Jim

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I had intended to write in with this same question after I got my 1996 996 in December of 2003.  The car had only 15K on the clock when I bought it.  I noticed "the smell" which as best I can describe it, was (is) very much like the smell of burning rubber, like overheated electrical insulation, but not quite as pungent.  Not like burning oil, I have owned many earlier 911s from '76s through the SCs, and know what oil on the heat exchangers smells like...

The underside of my engine is dry as a bone, as far as I know there are no clutch issues, and I notice the smell from the driver's side wheel well nearly every time I drive the car.  Not sure I can suggest anything to cause it unless it be the cosmoline.

Just thought I'd chime in with another report to let the other posters know it does not seem to be an isolated problem.

Jim

yup, same here and my '99 now has close to 60K. just wanted to chime in too.

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  • 4 months later...
I had intended to write in with this same question after I got my 1996 996 in December of 2003.  The car had only 15K on the clock when I bought it.  I noticed "the smell" which as best I can describe it, was (is) very much like the smell of burning rubber, like overheated electrical insulation, but not quite as pungent.  Not like burning oil, I have owned many earlier 911s from '76s through the SCs, and know what oil on the heat exchangers smells like...

The underside of my engine is dry as a bone, as far as I know there are no clutch issues, and I notice the smell from the driver's side wheel well nearly every time I drive the car.  Not sure I can suggest anything to cause it unless it be the cosmoline.

Just thought I'd chime in with another report to let the other posters know it does not seem to be an isolated problem.

Jim

yup, same here and my '99 now has close to 60K. just wanted to chime in too.

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I thought it was just me, so glad i am not alone. I observe the odor coming from the driver side rear wheel well mostly. It does smell to me more like rubber, like the tire is getting hot and wearing out. I sort of made that assumption because i figured since these pirelli pzero tires apparently dont last all that long, it must just be the smell of the rubber of the tires as they are being worn out. The smell is there whether easy driving or spirited.

thanx, Peter and newbie porsche owner, my first porsche ever, and so far only 400 miles driven.

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