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Old 01-18-2011, 03:12 PM   #1
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Burning Oil Smell

Hi all. I'm new to the forums and would appreciate any ideas you all have. I picked up a 2009 Ford Focus SES with 40,000 miles on Saturday from the dealership. I love the car and had it checked out at a local mechanic I semi-trust (I used to trust him a lot, but the last couple of times I brought my old car into him, I felt I was getting the runaround. For example he replace the rear shocks, but not rear shock mounts and the mounts gave out a few months later. Still for the most part I trust him).

He didn't have time to do a real inspection, but he did a quick look-see. I think he looked at it for 15 minutes or so and said he didn't find anything major wrong with it to keep me from buying it. I guess I could have taken it elsewhere and paid $50 or $100 for an actual inspection, but the dealership the car comes from has a decent reputation for reliable used cars and I'm a bit of a shmuck.

So 2 days later, I've driven it about 40 minutes with the heater on and am dropping my Dad off after taking him out for a drive in my new car. After he gets out and I leave the car idling for a few minutes while trying to get my phone to sync with the SYNC system, I start to smell a slight oil burning smell. It's weird, but I drive home a while stopped at one of the lights on the way home, the smell comes back. The defroster was on for both times and the stop I was stopped at was one of 2 stop lights I stopped at on the way home. I only smelled the oil at the longer light. At that last light, the smell got kind of strong and I ended up putting the windows down to dissipate it. So far it has not returned, but I've only driven 4-5 miles today and the smell didn't come until after I'd driven 45 minutes and was idling yesterday.

I looked for any evidence of oil leaks looking around the valve cover and couldn't see anything. Everything is really clean. The dealership said that it's probably from sitting for a few days undriven, but I call BS on that.

Sorry for the long-winded questions. I know that this is usually because of the valve cover gasket, but any ideas are appreciated.


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Old 01-20-2011, 12:33 PM   #2
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I've had a similar problem with my '03 focus. When under the car it is evident oil is leaking, and the dealer called it a very small leak. I don't lose much oil between changes but do get the burning oil smell when driving with the heat on. The smell typically shows up after the car is warm and i come to a stop. In my case it appears oil is leaking on to the exhaust system and when idling the burning oil from the hot system is being pushed into the car.

I know you said you haven't seen any leak, I assume it will not take a lot of oil to give the burning smell. Anything leaking from around the oil filter? In the '03 model the oil filter sits up above the exhaust and may drip down. Just my thoughts...
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Old 01-20-2011, 12:41 PM   #3
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Oil leak on an 09? unlikely. But if somebody didnt use a funnel to put oil IN they could have spilled some down the engine and its burning off, in turn the smell is coming through your A/C system. That is a possibility.
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Old 01-20-2011, 03:02 PM   #4
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welcome to focus fanatics...

Check inside the spark plug wells, thats usually the first place valve cover gaskets leak on the focus...
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:29 PM   #5
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Hi, if there is oil dripping under the car, there is obviously an oil leak.

Otherwise, you might want to check the rubber gasket at the back of hood between the engine compartment and the heater intake vent. If it debonded from the vent grill assembly it will allow hot oily smells from inside the engine compartment to be sucked into the car interior through the heater vent.

Repair options I have considered are:
New vent assemby,

Duct tape gasket back in place.

Replace gasket with foam tape.

Regardless, be sure to inspect back edge of hood when closed in front of heater vent to ensure there are no gaps.
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:49 PM   #6
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yah my dad had that problem and still does every now and then. you probably have a oil leak around the engine. and the hot engine is give the burning oil smell. take to shop and tell him what the problem is. dont take to ford dealer tho. when u park your car at nighht, when u drive it the next day look to see if its leaking oil. make sure its not just water by touching it with your finger and looking at the color.
i see u live in dallas. there is a really good mechanic in crowley i go to and my dad goes to. he wont screw u and he is very realiable and trust worthy
u can pm me if u want to know more
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