Exhaust-like fumes when vent turned on (2000 ZX3) - Focus Fanatics
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:30 AM   #1
gello88
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Exhaust-like fumes when vent turned on (2000 ZX3)

First of all, Happy New Year to all! :)

Okay, recently I noticed that when I turn on the air (heater because its winter right now) that I smell a bit of exhaust-like fumes coming out of the vents. I smell it usually in the first time the air blows through (so when I just turn it on) like it's been building up waiting at the vent and all the fumes just come rushing into the cabin the moment I turn the air on. The smell subsides eventually but I don't know if that's the car or my head just naturally ignoring the smell after continuous exposure (It's called habituation I think, psychology terms lol).

It seems to be apparent when I'm in slow traffic in urban areas (cities) and seems to be non-existent when I'm driving down an open highway. And when I do not use the vents at all, I don't smell anything but it gets really cold eventually inside since it winter

So I would like to check it but I don't know where to start. I have a strong feeling there is some kind of leak in the engine bay that eventually leads into the vents into the cabin. Can you please suggest some possible causes for this issue and whereabouts in the engine bay I might check to possibly find where the source of the leak is? Thanks for everyone's time.


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Old 01-04-2014, 11:41 AM   #2
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If I'm thinking correctly the fresh air vent passes through a filter on the passenger side cowl. I don't know where that picks up the air from, but any leaks in the piping there or in the exhaust near there could case exhaust to enter cabin through the vents.
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Old 01-05-2014, 07:05 AM   #3
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^This
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Old 01-05-2014, 09:55 AM   #4
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Awesome stuff, I opened the cabin filter area yesterday (It was located outside under the passenger side windshield. Anyway, I opened it to replace the filter and I was surprised to find out that there was no filter on it at all! There were two handfuls of dust balls just hanging out there. Took it out and put the FRAM cabin filter and drove around yesterday. The smell has almost gone but I definitely will check the piping areas here. Can never be too safe with fume issues. I'll let you guys know what I find out :)
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:16 PM   #5
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Moved to "General Technical Chat".
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:40 AM   #6
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Check to see if you have oil oozing down onto the exhaust manifold, or just burning off the motor at the valve cover gasket or oil dripping onto the exhaust pipe area directly under the motor. If you know the difference of odors very well, then nevermind. Just wanted to throw that in since the intake collects underhood so close to those leak issues.
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:29 PM   #7
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@OP
I had a similar problem on my focus. The smell disappeared after I replaced my PCV hose; the hose was cracked. We have different engine types, but that does not matter. Add this to your checklist of things to consider and inspect.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:14 AM   #8
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Update: So I checked the engine bay again and finally noticed that the valve cover was leaking oil at the front and the oil was running along the front side of the engine block. The hot exhaust tubes are there too which then cooks the oil causing the oil. I got the valve cover gasket replaced at a shop this weekend and the smell is gone and no more leak as well. :) Thanks a lot guys.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:23 AM   #9
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Glad to see you have the issue fixed, we're here to help.
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:28 PM   #10
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Good stuff bro. That job is very easy to do. You should give it a try next time it's due! You'll save a good chunk of money n you'll know how to do that gig from then on ;)
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