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  1. #1
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Burning Smell After Driving - Please Advise

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    Eversince it got warmer in Chicago occasionally I smell weird burning smell after driving and getting out of car. I can't locate the source of it,sometimes I think it's from the engine and other times like it's from the back of the car (exhaust)... So far it happened only few times in the past 2 weeks. Should I be concerned? What and where should I be looking for if I wanted to check what it is???
    Last edited by SoCalS4Avant; 05-16-2011 at 06:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Active Member Two Rings 08RS4's Avatar
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    What kind of driving are you doing? How long are you driving? Does it smell anything like hot brakes or like burnt oil or like boiling anti-freeze? Maybe something got on your exhaust or headers? Something got loose and the shielding/insulation/something is burning on any number of hot items?

    AKA: Slainte

  3. #3
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Normal driving,15-30min intervals. City driving.
    The smell reminds me "burning plastic"... To be honest I don't know how burning oil smells like :(
    I popped the hood today and I've noticed that one of the containers with liquid is slightly below MIN-I think it's the cooling liquid tank. Sorry I don't know the right terminology...
    Could that be the case? No controls on dashboard whatsoever...

  4. #4
    Veteran Member Four Rings dparm's Avatar
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    If you want more help, I suggest you change your thread title to something better like "burning smell after driving".
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  5. #5
    Veteran Member Four Rings dparm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krys-RS4 View Post
    Normal driving,15-30min intervals. City driving.
    The smell reminds me "burning plastic"... To be honest I don't know how burning oil smells like :(
    I popped the hood today and I've noticed that one of the containers with liquid is slightly below MIN-I think it's the cooling liquid tank. Sorry I don't know the right terminology...
    Could that be the case? No controls on dashboard whatsoever...
    That is the coolant overflow tank. Top it off with some water until it's just below the max line.
    now: 2011.5 BMW M3 sedan ZCP
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  6. #6
    Veteran Member Four Rings rs4 tony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dparm View Post
    That is the coolant overflow tank. Top it off with some water until it's just below the max line.
    that and fill it up in the morning when the car has been sitting for the whole night
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  7. #7
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dparm View Post
    If you want more help, I suggest you change your thread title to something better like "burning smell after driving".
    Good point. How do I do that?

  8. #8
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Thank you for the tips guys!
    I am just curious.Why water? Wouldn't it be better if it top it off with the coolant liquid?

  9. #9
    Veteran Member Four Rings Silver B6 S4's Avatar
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    If you use water, use distilled water.

  10. #10
    Veteran Member Four Rings rs4 tony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krys-RS4 View Post
    Thank you for the tips guys!
    I am just curious.Why water? Wouldn't it be better if it top it off with the coolant liquid?
    its a 50/50 mix ratio. but used distilled water. for that small amount, it wont make a difference
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  11. #11
    Veteran Member Four Rings dparm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krys-RS4 View Post
    Thank you for the tips guys!
    I am just curious.Why water? Wouldn't it be better if it top it off with the coolant liquid?
    It's just easier to use water. You won't be adding enough to significantly impact the boiling or freezing points. If anything, too much pure coolant is bad.
    now: 2011.5 BMW M3 sedan ZCP
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  12. #12
    Veteran Member Four Rings NY07RS4's Avatar
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  13. #13
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Thank you!

  14. #14
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dparm View Post
    It's just easier to use water. You won't be adding enough to significantly impact the boiling or freezing points. If anything, too much pure coolant is bad.
    Do you think this (slightly low coolant) might be the cause of the burning smell?

  15. #15
    Registered Member One Ring
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    sounds good.. didnt bother reading up on your model so didnt realize...

    ps:who trolls on forums.. FAIL..

  16. #16
    Veteran Member Four Rings dparm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krys-RS4 View Post
    Do you think this (slightly low coolant) might be the cause of the burning smell?
    Doubtful. As it is that is just the overflow tank. The level will rise and fall as you drive the car anyways.

    Burning smell = something is literally burning or melting.
    now: 2011.5 BMW M3 sedan ZCP
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Three Rings
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    Get close and smell your brakes and tire area next time you get out...

  18. #18
    Established Member Two Rings JuniorAra's Avatar
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    During the warmer months I have noticed the same smell. It only happens when my S button is active and on cold start. I don't know why but I have shrugged it off and I plan on keeping an eye on it as soon as the weather gets warmer.

  19. #19
    Veteran Member Four Rings rs4 tony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JuniorAra View Post
    During the warmer months I have noticed the same smell. It only happens when my S button is active and on cold start. I don't know why but I have shrugged it off and I plan on keeping an eye on it as soon as the weather gets warmer.
    I know why. as the weather is warmer, our motors responsiveness and power gets messed up the slightest bit and were used to the winter driving so when u hit sport mood we actually ride the clutch a little more then we used to. long story short, weather change affects everything in the car. coolant will expand more and maybe over flow
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  20. #20
    Veteran Member Four Rings koolade9's Avatar
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    While your smell could be lots of things without you pinpointing it's location... The coolant reservoir can develop cracks that only materialize under high-heat/pressure and go away once cooled down. If you're slightly loosing coolant, and your expansion tank is starting to look old, this could be your issue. But again, we need more details on exactly where its coming from...

  21. #21
    Veteran Member Four Rings dparm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zmon View Post
    Get close and smell your brakes and tire area next time you get out...

    Dragging brakes have a very unique odor. Same for rubbing tires.
    now: 2011.5 BMW M3 sedan ZCP
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  22. #22
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koolade9 View Post
    While your smell could be lots of things without you pinpointing it's location... The coolant reservoir can develop cracks that only materialize under high-heat/pressure and go away once cooled down. If you're slightly loosing coolant, and your expansion tank is starting to look old, this could be your issue. But again, we need more details on exactly where its coming from...
    Interesting that you brought that up,I actually DO have a tiny crack on the tank that I've noticed last time I looked under the hood. It's just a white mark on the plastic that is noticable to the touch but DOES NOT LEAK... And I have located the soucre of the burning smell-it's coming from the left front wheel,does it mean its the brake?
    The smell only stays for few minutes and then goes away...

  23. #23
    Senior Member Two Rings 4rings-rs4's Avatar
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    I had a similar mysterious burning smell once and it turned out to be a plastic bag caught on my downpipe was literally carmalizing from the heat. By the time I realized what it was, I couldn't do much but wait for it to burn off - took about a month or so of having to live with that smell.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Three Rings
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krys-RS4 View Post
    Interesting that you brought that up,I actually DO have a tiny crack on the tank that I've noticed last time I looked under the hood. It's just a white mark on the plastic that is noticable to the touch but DOES NOT LEAK... And I have located the soucre of the burning smell-it's coming from the left front wheel,does it mean its the brake?
    The smell only stays for few minutes and then goes away...
    i think it could just be warm brakes/tires...but thats just me ill let others comment... and its just the left? have you smelled the others up close?

  25. #25
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zmon View Post
    i think it could just be warm brakes/tires...but thats just me ill let others comment... and its just the left? have you smelled the others up close?
    Yes,just one wheel (front left).

  26. #26
    Veteran Member Four Rings dparm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krys-RS4 View Post
    Interesting that you brought that up,I actually DO have a tiny crack on the tank that I've noticed last time I looked under the hood. It's just a white mark on the plastic that is noticable to the touch but DOES NOT LEAK... And I have located the soucre of the burning smell-it's coming from the left front wheel,does it mean its the brake?
    The smell only stays for few minutes and then goes away...
    Get under the car and check for anything bent or rubbing.
    now: 2011.5 BMW M3 sedan ZCP
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  27. #27
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    I've found some PRESTONE coolant in my storage from couple of years ago,is it still good? Can such thing expire/go bad? :)

  28. #28
    Veteran Member Four Rings koolade9's Avatar
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    ^ Do NOT use that... only G12 from the dealer...

  29. #29
    Veteran Member Four Rings rs4 tony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krys-RS4 View Post
    I've found some PRESTONE coolant in my storage from couple of years ago,is it still good? Can such thing expire/go bad? :)
    just use water. its only a little amount. and i know i ran over dog shit once somehow.... hahaha
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  30. #30
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Ordered OEM coolant from ECS tuning, $13 ;)

  31. #31
    Veteran Member Four Rings rs4 tony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krys-RS4 View Post
    Ordered OEM coolant from ECS tuning, $13 ;)
    niceeee. now remember, it's a 50/50 mix ratio. so if it needs a half cup of coolant, add a half cup of distilled water..... do it in the morning too when the car is dead cold.
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  32. #32
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rs4 tony View Post
    niceeee. now remember, it's a 50/50 mix ratio. so if it needs a half cup of coolant, add a half cup of distilled water..... do it in the morning too when the car is dead cold.
    Thanks Tony. I did not know that!
    So should I mix the coolant and water in a separate container before purring it into the coolant tank?

  33. #33
    Veteran Member Four Rings rs4 tony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krys-RS4 View Post
    Thanks Tony. I did not know that!
    So should I mix the coolant and water in a separate container before purring it into the coolant tank?
    just do this, get 2 red plastic party cups, fill 1 cup of coolant half way and mark it with a market on the outside, then with the other cup fill it with distilled water to the same level(it doesn't have to be dead on perfect). after your 2 cups of fluid are the same volume, pour it into the coolant tank individually or put it in a Chinese soup container then pour it in.
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  34. #34
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Thanks!
    Question:
    Can the smell be from the tires? I just recently changed my tires to summer pilot sports (new-slightly used last summer)-that's the only thing I changed...
    I checked under the car,there is nothing loose,rubbing or stick to anything,it's clear. The coolant tank doesn't leak,it's little above MIN level-but this is being fix tomorrow when the G12 coolant arrives.
    I still get the smell after driving and now I am NOT sure if it's coming jut from one wheel-it's very hard to tell. I smell it the most when standing near the car and when there is a little wind...if I try to come close and smell the engine,wheels or exhaust then I really can't smell it that good...

  35. #35
    Veteran Member Four Rings dparm's Avatar
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    No, the tires will only smell if you have been racing (literally on a race track).

    Just take it to the dealer.
    now: 2011.5 BMW M3 sedan ZCP
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  36. #36
    Veteran Member Four Rings rs4 tony's Avatar
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    smell like rubber? a electric wire burning? a strong smell? water solution smell?
    2007 Audi Rs4 Daytona Pearl/Carbon Fiber Trim/Navigation/20% Tint All Around/PIAA Yellow Fogs/K&n Drop In/Apikol Rear Diff. Mount/StopTech S.S. Lines/Front Plate Delete/Michelin Super Sports 275-30-19/MTM 10mm Spacers/JHM Intake Manifold Spacers/JHM LWFW With Stage 3R Series Pressure Plate/JHM Piggie Downpipes/JHM 2.75" Non-res Catback Exhaust/034 Torque Mount/S.S. Hydraulic Slave Line Line

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  37. #37
    Established Member Two Rings Krys-RS4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4rings-rs4 View Post
    I had a similar mysterious burning smell once and it turned out to be a plastic bag caught on my downpipe was literally carmalizing from the heat. By the time I realized what it was, I couldn't do much but wait for it to burn off - took about a month or so of having to live with that smell.
    That's it! That is exactly what it was! A plastic bag that melted over the pipe :) I can't believe how I missed that when looking under the car... It still smells a little but definitely fading away..
    Just wanted to let you guys know in case someone else get similar smell-look for plastic bags cought under your DP's :)

  38. #38
    Veteran Member Four Rings RAudi Driver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krys-RS4 View Post
    Thanks Tony. I did not know that!
    So should I mix the coolant and water in a separate container before purring it into the coolant tank?
    Quote Originally Posted by rs4 tony View Post
    just do this, get 2 red plastic party cups, fill 1 cup of coolant half way and mark it with a market on the outside, then with the other cup fill it with distilled water to the same level(it doesn't have to be dead on perfect). after your 2 cups of fluid are the same volume, pour it into the coolant tank individually or put it in a Chinese soup container then pour it in.

    Like 2 fricken peas in a pod. I can't believe you guys are turning a low coolant issue into a monumental task. A Chinese soup container? ROFL. Maybe add, boil the coolant and water in a wok before adding it to the tank.



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