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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
sooo, ac works perfectly, haven't tried the heater ... (yet,) its been hot here in Oregon the last few days and I was rolling around the other day and some smoke stated to slightly roll out the vents but only when accelerating uphill. I am not sure if its an exhaust leak, condensation, my car running rich from a bad knock sensor, or the heater core. I checked the valve cover gasket and replaced the rotor, distributer and cap so I know its not oil burning off the engine. My p10 has had a bad smell in the cabin since I bought it. Smells burnt, almost kind of plasticky. carpet below passenger side is stained... as well as the driver side... anyway how do i diagnose this?
 

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You need to determine if you smell coolant and if it's leaking anywhere else. We had this happen with a broken heater core but it was an obvious smell AND fogged up the inside of the bottom of the windshield too. Have someone with a good nose put their nose up to the vent to get a good wiff of the smoke to see if it smells like coolant or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You need to determine if you smell coolant and if it's leaking anywhere else. We had this happen with a broken heater core but it was an obvious smell AND fogged up the inside of the bottom of the windshield too. Have someone with a good nose put their nose up to the vent to get a good wiff of the smoke to see if it smells like coolant or not.
did you get any other symptoms before the heater core went out completely?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Okay. So today I rode around with carbon monoxide alarm and not once went off so I can say definitively it’s a not a (BAD) exhaust leak. And I rode with the heat on so I can confirm it’s not the heater core. I’m thinking it could be the hvac fan motor now? Idk what else would send smoke thru my face vents, only on hard acceleration up hill. Please respond with ideas!! I’m checking everything!
 

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Heat still worked fine-- just we had the very distinct smell of coolant to give it away. A leaking heater core doesn't mean the heat won't work. We eventually saw water dripping into the passenger area carpet when it got even worse. It started out a small leak and grew.

If you have zero smell of coolant (and not just water in the system), but it doesn't smell like anything at all, then I'm at a loss because electrical burning smell is very unique and unmistakable as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Heat still worked fine-- just we had the very distinct smell of coolant to give it away. A leaking heater core doesn't mean the heat won't work. We eventually saw water dripping into the passenger area carpet when it got even worse. It started out a small leak and grew.

If you have zero smell of coolant (and not just water in the system), but it doesn't smell like anything at all, then I'm at a loss because electrical burning smell is very unique and unmistakable as well.
Heat still worked fine-- just we had the very distinct smell of coolant to give it away. A leaking heater core doesn't mean the heat won't work. We eventually saw water dripping into the passenger area carpet when it got even worse. It started out a small leak and grew.

If you have zero smell of coolant (and not just water in the system), but it doesn't smell like anything at all, then I'm at a loss because electrical burning smell is very unique and unmistakable as well.
thank you for the troubleshooting advice!! From what research I did I thought that I would be able to rule the heater core out by making sure the heat worked. Obviously there’s something wrong and it really does kinda smell like coolant, but also hard to tell because the previous owners at the lot were trying to cover it with air fresher and ozium. But anything I leave in the car for more than a day or two kinda picks up that coolant smell too. So next question is, can I avoid replacing it for a while if I avoid using the hvac for now? I am really appreciative of all the advice on this discussion board I’m a 23 year old female and this is the oldest and most fun car I’ve driven and id to keep it on the road as long as possible!! Thank you!
 

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The coolant ALWAYS circulates through the heater core. As I said, it will only get worse as time goes on. What's worse is eventually you will lose enough coolant to affect the entire cooling system. Unfortunately the entire dash has to be removed to replace the heater core. If you live somewhere that doesn't require heat, you can bypass the heater core in the engine bay by looping it out of the system (what others have done in Phoenix, AZ for example).
 
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