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Old 12-29-2010, 11:22 PM   #1
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Hot Burning Smell

My Wife and I have been test driving many differant Boxsters in our search for the perfect up grade from our '98 beginner Base Boxster. Something we have noticed on a few test drives is a hot burning smell. It is very strong coming from the engine compartment and can be smelled much stronger if you put your nose close to either the right or left side intake/vent ports. Otherwise cars seem to perform normally. Any ideas what this is caused by ? Is this a common phenomenon ?

BTW: On this trip...153 new best.

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Old 12-30-2010, 04:13 AM   #2
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I've got a stinky burnt smell from the 2000 S tiptronic I bought a couple weeks ago and I suspect some kind of fluid leak. Funny because there's not a drip mark anywhere on the garage floor. Mine doesn't smell like oil or coolant and I suspect possibly ATF making it onto something hot, like the exhaust but that's just a guess. The smell is most noticable from the right side rear fender vent and I think that's the trans output location. The shop manual mentions the possibility of the tiptronic fluid leaking into the diff and then overfilling the diff out the vent.

It would be kind of reassuring to hear that burning smells are normal but I doubt it.

Last edited by Dale_K; 12-30-2010 at 04:15 AM.
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Old 12-30-2010, 04:53 AM   #3
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Question

Can we have some input from the experts? Jake Raby, Mike focke or Predro (that's all the name that I can think of) and of course other Porsche engineers?

Some said it can be Cosmoline protection? , but should it be gone after a year or two. Mine is a MY06 and yes I do have that burnt smell too.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:41 AM   #4
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Idaho, is it a sweet smell, or more like burning oil. Does the engine have to be hot and ran for some time...is it worse after driving hard?

The vent on the right side (I call it my garage heater ) comes right off the engine. I'm not an expert on Porsches but I know the pipe to put oil in the car crosses right over the engine, it is the only thing that has leaked on my car. The other thing is antifreeze has a sweet smell. I also find that these older cars the catalytic converters sometimes give off an odor. Anyway maybe the experts will chime in. Have you looked at the engines on any of the ones you test drove to see if they were a mess or not?
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:47 AM   #5
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Mine doesn't smell whatsoever. Something is leaking to cause the burning smell and would highly suggest a PPI on any car you consider purchasing to find the source. Perhaps it's just the IMS bearing burning up?
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Old 12-30-2010, 08:32 AM   #6
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Mine doesn't smell whatsoever. Something is leaking to cause the burning smell and would highly suggest a PPI on any car you consider purchasing to find the source. Perhaps it's just the IMS bearing burning up?
Hehe. When are you shifting? I've seen a Boxster or two driven by someone... conservative... that gets shifted before 3k and gets a clutch-burning smell. I'm always inclined to say driver-error. Then again, mine smells like coolant when I drive hard.. and has for the past 40,000 miles.
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:28 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Idaho Red Rocket 3
My Wife and I have been test driving many differant Boxsters in our search for the perfect up grade from our '98 beginner Base Boxster. Something we have noticed on a few test drives is a hot burning smell. It is very strong coming from the engine compartment and can be smelled much stronger if you put your nose close to either the right or left side intake/vent ports. Otherwise cars seem to perform normally. Any ideas what this is caused by ? Is this a common phenomenon ?

BTW: On this trip...153 new best.
Are you driving new cars at the dealer?
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:30 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Dale_K
I've got a stinky burnt smell from the 2000 S tiptronic I bought a couple weeks ago and I suspect some kind of fluid leak. Funny because there's not a drip mark anywhere on the garage floor. Mine doesn't smell like oil or coolant and I suspect possibly ATF making it onto something hot, like the exhaust but that's just a guess. The smell is most noticable from the right side rear fender vent and I think that's the trans output location. The shop manual mentions the possibility of the tiptronic fluid leaking into the diff and then overfilling the diff out the vent.

It would be kind of reassuring to hear that burning smells are normal but I doubt it.
When a CV boot goes, grease slings all over the place including the exhaust and makes an unusual smell.
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Old 12-30-2010, 08:59 PM   #9
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Thanks for the responses.
Three cars so far have had burning smells. Yes all at dealers. No PPI yet. Nothing like antifreeze smell. Not like an oil burn smell either. All with manual trans.

1) 2002 S with 72k miles. Strong hot burning smell reminds me of an electrical burn smell but not quit exactly. The more it is driven the stronger the smell. Car had very stiff steering. Heavy in my hand. Can smell in cab with top down at stop lights. Strong smell all around car when finished test drive.

2) 2006 Base with 27k miles. Strong hot burning smell reminds me of a rubber smell but again not quit. Strongest on standing at the right rear fender. But still pungent standing at the left side too.

3) 2006 Base with 35k miles. Faint hot burning smell on left side but stronger on the right. Similar smell as car 2 but not as heavy.
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:58 PM   #10
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I have the same smell. I investigated, and found a slight leak from one of the spark plug tubes. It is not enough to drip when parked, but you can see a trail showing the leak dripping onto the exhaust, right around the O2 sensor.

From what I understand, it is a common issue, but an easy fix (O-ring replacement)

It is a little embarrassing to park next to a friend, with a stinky, slightly smoky car
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Old 12-31-2010, 05:30 AM   #11
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If these were larger dealers they may also have detailed/cleaned the engine, though since I'm new to Porsche and the engine is out of view I don't even know if that is a common practice. Or maybe they all have new tires and you are heating up some rubber .
Or like Iflylow is saying all three have had the bad luck of having a spark plug tube seal leaking.
Find a private sale and drive one or take the one you like most to an indy and have them tell you. Could also be your cash burning or your increase in sensory after driving one of these machines
Let us know what you find out.
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Old 01-01-2011, 06:43 AM   #12
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Update

It was 60 in Charlotte yesterday (finally) and I got the 2000 'S' out and drove it hard. When I pull in the garage my catalytic converters are ping and popping like normal and I have a very small odor too and I'm sure it is the converts, I've had it since I bought the car and just got used to it. The odor is not new to me, I remember a lot of cars in the 90s I've had were like this too.
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Old 01-01-2011, 08:52 AM   #13
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Ok, on the TIP right side is what they call Final Drive, the axle seal is known to develop a leak and what happens, the fluid from the final drive is thrown outward and will drip down on the exhaust and the engine under cover pan. If you over fill the TIP you could have TIP fluid mixing in the Final Drive gear lube. Mine is leaking because the seal is going bad and will be fixed in the next several weeks by an Indy for about $300. Now, burning oil and hypo oil have a completely different smell when they burn, also the smell from the right side air intake is very strong. As far as I know, if you have an oil smell check your cam covers and the cam access plugs.
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Old 01-02-2011, 05:41 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the input. I'll look for these problems if the smell ever comes up on my '98 and my new to us 2000 S.

My Wife and I just got back with our set of twins. Both cars are guards red with a black top. We looked at several cars in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson. We purchased the 2000 S with 48K miles for just under 14K. Very well cared for car traded at a Mercedes dealer in Phoenix. It had been a local Phoenix car since new with 2 owners.

Now I have to learn all the care and feeding procedures for an S model.

Bill
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:13 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Idaho Red Rocket 3
Thanks for all the input. I'll look for these problems if the smell ever comes up on my '98 and my new to us 2000 S.

My Wife and I just got back with our set of twins. Both cars are guards red with a black top. We looked at several cars in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson. We purchased the 2000 S with 48K miles for just under 14K. Very well cared for car traded at a Mercedes dealer in Phoenix. It had been a local Phoenix car since new with 2 owners.

Now I have to learn all the care and feeding procedures for an S model.

Bill
These cars are sooo cheap! That's half of what my 2000S cost 5 years ago and I got a good deal.
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:21 PM   #16
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I keep hearing about these low prices in Phoenix, dang, I just got a 2000 'S' Red with 50k and paid $15.8 and that was the cheapest around! I had to put tires, front rotors, and pads on. I did lots of other stuff but I wanted to.

Congrats, post pics!
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Old 01-03-2011, 05:06 AM   #17
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Arizona seems to have the best deals on Porsche's & Ferrari's. I guess these retirees just like to have a nice golf car....then lose interest and want something different.
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:39 AM   #18
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Arizona seems to have the best deals on Porsche's & Ferrari's. I guess these retirees just like to have a nice golf car....then lose interest and want something different.
I'd say that alot of people were living beyond their means when their houses were increasing in price by 10% a year. Then the bubble burst and everything has to go to save the house.
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:58 AM   #19
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It's the Catalytic Converters and the hot engine "Cooking Off".......normal for a P-car IMHO.

I have smelled every odor a car makes, and the Boxster emits a very distinct hot engine aroma. I would bet if a Chevy truck had an engine compartment fan for a
rather enclosed area it that vented like the Boxster, it would emit the same smell.

YMMV
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Old 01-06-2011, 07:32 PM   #20
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OK. Here is a picture of the twins.
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