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Hi Guys,

2004 Focus ZX5 auto. For the last year or so we have been experiencing a strong burned oil smell by times while driving in town. Not apparent in the 55-80 mph range. It only occurs every so often--some 15 to 30 minute drives it will be fine and other times it will occur more frequently. I thought it might be a valve cover leak so I cleaned that area and any other area I could spray de-greaser onto but it did not really help. If we turn off the HVAC, it pretty much stops it. I have put a new cabin filter but to no avail. Thoughts??
 

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I've got the same problem with my '96 Camry. Diagnosed the issue as being the rear main seal. The exhaust goes right underneath where the engine and transmission are mated which caused the oil to burn when it drips down onto the exhaust. I would recommend taking a look under your car after you park it and see if you can find any oil dripping down there.
 

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I can't be absolutely sure, but it sounds like you have a valve cover gasket leak. It honestly could be any kind of oil leak but ill start with the most common and simplest. You can smell it only at city speeds because that's when there is less air taking the smell away. Sitting at a light or rolling in second gear you will be able to smell it more. I wouldn't condemn a rear main seal before looking at much simpler leaks
 

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I agree with the valve cover leak. They sometimes aren't the most visible, but it sure sounds like a valve cover leak.

Or maybe the oil separator is leaking onto the exhaust.
 

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"Burnt Oil Smell" is exactly what I smelled sometimes in my 2004. Then I heard a gasping sound immediately after turning the engine off. Then I learned about the PCV hose; they weaken, crack, collapse, and sometimes leak after about 8, 9, 10 years. Replaced my cracked/dead PCV Hose; problem solved.

If OP has a Duratec engine and an original PCV hose, congrats, you made it longer than most.

If OP has a Duratec, here's the PCV Hose How-To thread
http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=212938

If OP has a Zetec, the PCV hose/s also fail, but can't say I remember hearing of a burnt oil smell complaint from any of the Zetec owners. I also can't remember what I had for dinner last night. Wait! Leftover beef stew.
 

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"Burnt Oil Smell" is exactly what I smelled sometimes in my 2004. Then I heard a gasping sound immediately after turning the engine off. Then I learned about the PCV hose; they weaken, crack, collapse, and sometimes leak after about 8, 9, 10 years. Replaced my cracked/dead PCV Hose; problem solved.

If OP has a Duratec engine and an original PCV hose, congrats, you made it longer than most.

If OP has a Duratec, here's the PCV Hose How-To thread
http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=212938

If OP has a Zetec, the PCV hose/s also fail, but can't say I remember hearing of a burnt oil smell complaint from any of the Zetec owners. I also can't remember what I had for dinner last night. Wait! Leftover beef stew.
You bring up a good point. That collapsed/deteriorated PCV hose would definitely produce that smell.
 
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