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Old September 22nd, 2010, 21:47   #1
tres bug
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Default smell in car causing headaches

Hi I bought a 2002 tdi Beetle to drive to work only. When ever I get in, after about 5 minutes I start to get a headache. There is a wierd like motor smell to the inside also. I changed out the cabin filter and the intact filter. can anyone please help. I really like to the little guy but I will have to sell him if the headaches don't go away. I never have owned a diesel, So I really don't know what to look for. Also the motor looks clean and there isn't any smoke coming from the engine. Have any suggestions? All help appreciated.
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 21:52   #2
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Sounds like an exhaust leak. I'd take 'er to MF Auto in Knoxville and have 'em check it out.
I'm going to guess something EGR related.
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 22:05   #3
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Yeah...sounds like an exhaust leak or a fuel leak. does it smell like burnt fuel? Does the smell go away when you get on the highway?

You can look around your engine bay. Exhaust leaks will leave a black soot.

Your cabin shouldn't smell much different than a gasser...you MIGHT smell a little burnt diesel as you would smell burnt gas at start up, but it shouldn't linger.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 00:18   #4
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I'm not sure if it's the same thing, but my husband said he smelled what he thought was exhaust especially at higher speeds, and it would give him a headache (wierd thing is, I never could smell it so maybe he has a more acute sense of smell). It was at the point, if we went anywhere together we had to take another car. We even bought a CO indicator to see if we were getting fumes in the cabin but it was negative. Originally, I took it to our local mechanic and he found no exhaust leak and thought it might be a bad cabin air filter, even though I had changed it recently. I then made the trek to our TDI trusted mechanic and he said that the earlier beetles used a layer of wax(?) in the floor and as time went on and as it broke down (kind of melted), it started emitting an odor through the floor that could assimilate mild exhaust fumes, like a chemical waxy smell. They didn't find any exhaust leak either so it wasn't that. It kind of made sense, since my husband didn't seem to notice it until the weather was warmer which aggravated the smell vs cold weather.

I wouldn't disregard the possibility of a leak, but if they don't find one then it's most likely this.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 00:52   #5
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Try this other thread, may be what you smell?

http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread...crayons&page=2
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 12:43   #6
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You can do a little detective work and narrow things diown. Try running to work with the windows down some, and recirc off, and air conditioner off. If you don't get a headache, on the homeward commute, run the windows at the same levels and then set the air to recirc, fan on and no air conditioner. If there isn't a problem, next day try it with windows up, air conditioner on and recirc off. For the homeward trip, air conditioner on, recirc on. You should know then what combination of settings will reproduce the problem. If it's only when you are closed up and on recirc, then the wax stuff could be it, or you have something growing on the evap coil, or it could be a very slight coolant leak on the cabin side of the firewall.

Also check that there are no openings in the spare tire well that are letting exhaust in.

Craig C.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 17:58   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvairwerks View Post
You can do a little detective work and narrow things diown. Try running to work with the windows down some, and recirc off, and air conditioner off. If you don't get a headache, on the homeward commute, run the windows at the same levels and then set the air to recirc, fan on and no air conditioner. If there isn't a problem, next day try it with windows up, air conditioner on and recirc off. For the homeward trip, air conditioner on, recirc on. You should know then what combination of settings will reproduce the problem. If it's only when you are closed up and on recirc, then the wax stuff could be it, or you have something growing on the evap coil, or it could be a very slight coolant leak on the cabin side of the firewall.
Going off this, you could start by just going outside and sitting in it for 5 minutes without turning anything on. Still get a headache?
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 22:32   #8
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put a bird in your car and let it set in the driveway for a couple hours running. time will tell!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old September 24th, 2010, 05:05   #9
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Smell like crayons?
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Old September 24th, 2010, 07:39   #10
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heard this over the summer:

http://action.publicbroadcasting.net...t/2147253.page
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Old September 24th, 2010, 08:09   #11
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Headaches can be caused by head/neck posturing. Try adjusting the seat or putting a rolled towel behind your lower back. (is there a lumbar support in your car?) Headaches "behind" the eyes or in the forehead areas are the common sites for posture headaches. How tense are you when driving this car? Clenching of the jaws is another common cause of TemporoMandibular Joint derived headache. If all else fails, see your Chiropractor, Physical Therapist, or Dentist. Your case is aberrant in that most posters claim headaches from just owning a VW.
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Old September 29th, 2010, 18:47   #12
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Hi everybody. Thanks for all the great ideas and the funny ones too...LOL I am having the carpet replaced this week. Hopefully this will take care of the problem. I loaned the car out a few days ago to some friends that took it to the UT game in Knoxville. That is about 2 hours from my house. One of them had to stop in knoxville and get some headache medicine.
I got down on my knees one day and sniffed ( hahaha) the seats and carpet. In the very front driver and passenger side of the carpet reeked with the smell. It kinda smells so sweet it's sickening. Somebody also suggested it was the moonroof leaking. Which it very well may have, I'll only owned it for 2 weeks.
However I will update you guys after the carpet install.
PS I love this site. You guys rock.
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Old September 29th, 2010, 18:59   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tres bug View Post
Hi everybody. Thanks for all the great ideas and the funny ones too...LOL I am having the carpet replaced this week. Hopefully this will take care of the problem. I loaned the car out a few days ago to some friends that took it to the UT game in Knoxville. That is about 2 hours from my house. One of them had to stop in knoxville and get some headache medicine.
I got down on my knees one day and sniffed ( hahaha) the seats and carpet. In the very front driver and passenger side of the carpet reeked with the smell. It kinda smells so sweet it's sickening. Somebody also suggested it was the moonroof leaking. Which it very well may have, I'll only owned it for 2 weeks.
However I will update you guys after the carpet install.
PS I love this site. You guys rock.
It's not the carpet, it's the sound deadening material under the carpet. If it's not removed and you have the new carpet installed, the smell will continue. Removal of the sound deadening material will make outside noise louder, if this isn't acceptable, then have a material called Dynamat ( http://www.dynamat.com/) installed before the new carpet is installed.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 06:04   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tres bug View Post
Hi I bought a 2002 tdi Beetle to drive to work only. When ever I get in, after about 5 minutes I start to get a headache. There is a wierd like motor smell to the inside also. I changed out the cabin filter and the intact filter. can anyone please help. I really like to the little guy but I will have to sell him if the headaches don't go away. I never have owned a diesel, So I really don't know what to look for. Also the motor looks clean and there isn't any smoke coming from the engine. Have any suggestions? All help appreciated.
I have a real funky acrid smell in the Jetta too, appeared to be coming from the air vents. Perplexed me for years. It is the floor mat rubber. I discovered this weekend when I pulled out the mats to vacuum the car and this time I just happened to smell one of the mats and it had that nasty smell. The rubber must be degrading. These are the snap-in carpet mats that come in the car from the factory.

--Nate
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