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Thread: What's wrong with my car?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    What's wrong with my car?

    Throbbing brain, I'm putting it to you to diagnose what might possibly be wrong with my car*. I plan on taking it to a mechanic but before I take it in and look like a bimbo I'd like to have a possible idea of what might be wrong with it.

    1996 Nissan Altima with almost 139,000 miles.

    This past week I've noticed that when ever I drive it I notice a strong smell of fumes inside my car. At first I thought it was just the other cars around me but now I'm thinking it is coming from poor little white car. Any idea what this could be? No indicator lights have appeared. I seem to be getting the same mpg as usual. I am due for an oil change. Other than that I have no idea. I did notice a rattle about a week ago but I no longer hear it. So what ever it was either worked itself out or fell off.

    What say you?








    *I promise not to hold any of you responsible for your diagnosis and will get it checked out by a reputable licensed mechanic.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Need more specifics on the type of smell. Exhaust pipe/muffler/manifold is always the first guess if you smell fumes in the car and it's that type of smell. But, there's also coolant leaks from radiator, hoses, head gasket, or heater core which is a sweeter smell. Rotten eggy type smells are also exhaust related and are related to the catalytic converter. Oil leaks that get to the manifolds or other hot engine surfaces also have their own peculiar smell. Non-automobile smells include personal hygiene, pets, flatulence, and many others. .
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ruralplanner's avatar
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    My first thought would be the heater core. Do you smell it when the fan is on? Is there a wet spot on the floor under the dash in front of the passenger seat? Is it sweet smelling? Maybe check the coolant/antifreeze level. As you face the car, hood open, it should be a white plastic bottle of sorts—probably to your left. If the coolant is low is may be leaking somewhere or is being burned via a cracked head gasket or engine block. If the coolant looks brown or frothy you definitely have a cracked head gasket or block. The brown/froth is oil mixing with your coolant.

    If that is the case, mine as well start saving for a new car. If it is cold where you are you can probably drive it for a few months, but as soon as warmer weather comes your engine will surely see its last day pretty quick.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    it is an exhaust smell. sometimes it almost smells like gasoline.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian TOFB's avatar
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    I would suspect catalytic converter or other exhaust issue. Should get it checked out ASAP with the CO and all . . .

    We have a 96 Maxima with 156K and its all good!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TOFB View post
    I would suspect catalytic converter or other exhaust issue. Should get it checked out ASAP with the CO and all . . .

    We have a 96 Maxima with 156K and its all good!
    yah, i was wondering if i was poisoning myself or what.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Sounds like an exhaust leak. Get it checked. Being able to smell is an adaptation for avoiding trouble. Listen to you nose!

  8. #8
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    ....[snip]...This past week I've noticed that when ever I drive it I notice a strong smell of fumes inside my car...[snip]...
    I'm thinking you're eating too many legumes. Open a window.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    yah, i was wondering if i was poisoning myself or what.
    You'd probably notice the effects. MrTresmo's van had a hole in the back on the floor (from a wheelchair lift that had been removed) right next to the exhaust. I would get sick and dizzy and headachy every time we drove it anywhere. I finally put two and two together and said something to him, eliciting "Oh yeah, there's a hole in the floor. Maybe I should plug it." Anyway, he did, and I never had a problem with it again. So hopefully you'd be able to tell...but MrTresmo never had a problem, so everyone is different. We don't want you to be gassed in your car!

    Of course, take it to a mechanic, asap.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    One time when I had a fairly strong smell of fuel in my car (usually at slow speeds or idling) and a decline in fuel efficiency, it turned out to be a failed fuel injector.

    Otherwise, have the exhaust system checked.

    Mike

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Thanks for the input, everyone. I'll be taking to a mechanic tomorrow to get it evaluated. I'll let y'all know how close you were with your guesses.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Check out cars.com for The MechaniX-Files. It's hosted by Click and Clack, with referrals to decent wrenches.

    Must be contagious; my four-wheeler suddenly smells like I'm driving through Battle Creek when the heat comes on. Wish it smelled like Hershey instead.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Is it a plastic sort of smell-could be wiring come loose and melting or shorting out and melting, had a radio do that once scared the hell out of me. Or if its not a chemical smell but just ick and odd check to see if some animal moved in under the hood to stay warm, pretty common, sometimes they just piss on things (if a cat takes a leak just get rid of the car trust me) sometimes they die and you get an odd smell sometimes um well they get in parts that move and they um yes well ugh

    Good luck but yes please get it checked out
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    $485 later it turns out it was transmission fluid/coolant that was leaking onto the exhaust system and burning up. it was also a cracked CV valve? cap. it was also a cracked right front axel and no axel grease. they also said i needed two new tires but after the other $$ i shelled out i said those would have to wait.

    ay dey mi.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    $485 later it turns out it was transmission fluid/coolant that was leaking onto the exhaust system and burning up. it was also a cracked CV valve? cap. it was also a cracked right front axel and no axel grease. they also said i needed two new tires but after the other $$ i shelled out i said those would have to wait.

    ay dey mi.
    Lovely, hope they sorted it out for you. I had a cracked CV joint on the old beater...it was a bit of spare change to fix but drove much better after that.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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