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Old 07-04-2011, 05:00 PM   #1
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Question electical burning smell


I just got home from a little evening ride with the wife. Went 15 or 20 miles. Mostly slow going through a park.

Here is the problem. We were about ready to head home and stopped at a stop sign. All of a sudden we got a blast smell of burning electrical wires. No sizzle or any other sign or problems from warning lights or anything else. It is definately an electical burning smell. I don't think it is coming from the engine bay. I seemed to come from the dash or vents. This happened once before a couple of weeks ago also, but I was not real sure it was from the car. This time there was no doubt. It is gone as quick as it came.

Here is what i noticed at the time. The air was running with the top down. about 81 degrees out. Put top down and left the air on! If was not on automatic but on manual and the internal blower air fan was running about 50%. It probably had been running for some time. I did notice the temp gauge went up about 5 to 10 degrees after the smell. It was directly over the 0 on the 180. A little higher than normal.

The car ran strong going home. I checked and both radiator fans are running.
Originally thought I may have burned one out.

If anyone has had this issue before or have any ideas, I would really appreciate it.

2000 Boxster
52,000 miles.

Last edited by fullthrottle52; 07-04-2011 at 05:06 PM. Reason: spell check
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Old 07-05-2011, 05:33 AM   #2
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Is your blower still working on all speeds? BTW, nothing wrong with the AC on and top down, I do it all the time. Cold air directed to the footwell allows for topless driving on very hot days.

Last edited by stephen wilson; 07-05-2011 at 05:36 AM.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:15 AM   #3
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I've noticed that as well on my 2002...Always seems on the hottest days, coming from the driver side air intake...
2002 Boxster S
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Old 07-05-2011, 02:35 PM   #4
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It's pretty scarry. It last about 5 to 10 seconds and smells like the rubber is burning off a wire. It has to be electical. It does seem to be coming from the air vert because it is kinda blown in your face. That is why I thougt it might be a radiator fan. I did have the CD playing. Wonder if it could be CD or radio?

Who know. I guess nobody else has had this issue based on the feedback.

It is somewhat helpful to know someone else has had this issue.
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Old 07-05-2011, 02:42 PM   #5
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Well I don't know if it helps, but on the way home just now (96 degrees out), I noticed my mileage "lcd screen" flickering. Not all of them, just the one that displays the mileage (bottom left).

It's never done this before, although I do have one of the gauge bulbs lose so the light behind the tach sometimes flickers. I attributed it to the heat inside the car. I tapped all over the gauge cluster and housing, but nothing helped.

Parked car (at subway) and when I came out to leave again, it was fine for about 10 seconds and then it started flickering again. It would update the numbers however. I thought I smelled something electrical, but it was so hot that I think I was "jumping to conclusions".

It is a bit unnerving, but I hope it's just a lose bulb connection.

On topic now, do you get the smell when all electronics are turned off? Checked the fuse panel?
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Old 07-05-2011, 02:43 PM   #6
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If it didn't catch fire by now, it's entirely normal.
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Old 07-05-2011, 02:56 PM   #7
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That is what I thought the first time it happened to me. It was a hot day and I wasn't sure I smelled burning. This time it was very evident. It was not nearly as hot last night. Maybe around 85 degrees.

I'm going to not worry to much about it. If it happens again then I'll try to narrow things down some.

I thought about checking the fuse panel. I will try to do that tonight.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:05 PM   #8
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I got the same smell after running the car a couple blocks after installing an EVO intake. I followed my nose to the drivers side air intake. I thought it was maybe just some rubber/plastic from the install that was maybe too close to something hot.... At least I hope
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Old 09-02-2013, 01:17 AM   #9
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been there done that. I bought my 99 in Feb '13. I am driving around and yes got the electric smell and my HVAC fan stop working so I take a look at the fuses and the one for the fan is melted, yeah the plastic piece on the fuse is melted. I have never seen that before so I replace the fuse. About a month later I am driving and all of a sudden the car just dies with no warning. Get towed to the dealer and they tell me the fuse for the fuel pump is melted and that there is damage to the fuse block. So they replace the fuse holder for that row in the fuse block. they check to make sure the fuel pump is working properly and it is. I get the car back and its running great. Go for a ride with the wife about a month later, I live in RI and its a very hot July day. On the way home my water temp light is flashing fortunately I am able to limp home. I check fuses for radiator fans right side is melted and left side is blown. Using a jumper wire and removing the relay's for the radiator fans I determine the right fan is not working at all and the left works only on high speed. When I replace the right fan I realize it was binding. I figure the left ballast resistor is gone but choose to replace the left fan too.

Might give you some ideas on where to start. Good Luck!

99 Porsche Boxster
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