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Fuel smell, exhaust smell, chemical smell resolved

9083 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  philethier
Quite a few threads on these issues, which I believe are one.

I thought my car smelled like gas. Buddy #1 thought it smelled like gas. Newport European mechanic #1 didn't smell a thing. Newport European mechanic #2 thought it smelled like exhaust "right in your face". Buddy #2 thought it smelled like "concentrated new car smell". Buddy #3 smelled nothing. Ok, so I'm Felix Ungar. It still gives me a headache after 20 minutes of driving. Mine is a like new 2007 with 1500 miles, bought this January.

Always when moving, with top off. Nothing under hood, under chassis, around gas cap, or coming from tailpipe. Only in cabin, and dissipating seconds after stopping. If the car is not moving it only smells like leather.

I searched the forums and found #1 cause of fuel smell is a leaky charcoal canister valve - Newport European found leak with smoke test and replaced mine, but it made no difference.

Other than that the other complaints have in common is smell comes in with the top off. Some theorized air blowing overhead causes low pressure in cabin, drawing in smell from...somewhere.

A sampling of similar issues:

In the course of performing the Cobra antenna mod, I found the smell emanating from the dashboard and traced it to the fiberglass sills. The sills are hollow from back to front and open into the dashboard. The backs of the sills open into the fuel tank compartment. If there is any spillage, the passenger side will vacuum it up into the cabin.
I plugged the backs of the sills with spray foam, but it only reduced the fuel smell a bit (my other thread Dashboard Smells Like Gasoline). It was at that point that Buddy #2 switched his evaluation from "gas" to "concentrated new car smell".

I cut the tips off the stock exhaust (they're ugly anyway) and installed longer tips at an angle pointing at the ground. 3" between diffuser and tips should reduce exhaust backdraft. Drove car - no difference.

I removed the interior from the seats rearward and sealed every hole and crevice from the floorpan to the rollbar (quite a few) with silicone, and the big shifter cable hole with spray foam. Drove car - no difference.

Avoided the car for a month. Thinking about getting rid of it.

I put the shop-vac hose in the window, closed up the car, and the smell appeared immediately, so the low interior pressure theory was validated.

Ordered air bag cover clips, removed dashboard and sill covers - the smell from the sills was noxious. Big pice of gray open cell foam in the sills serving no apparent purpose was removed - they must be for sound as they weren't even touching the sides, not even an attempt to seal (not that open cell foam can seal anything). Found small leaves and other debris in the sills.

The sills are not sealed along the bottom. Looking into the cavity, I can see light off the garage floor. This is why sealing the back only failed. Outside air can draft into the sills from under the car, and pull their chemical funk into the cabin via the dash. I don't know what in them reeks. It's not the orange glue, or black glue. Maybe the insulation on the hoses? I don't care anymore, I just want to isolate them from the cabin.


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Closing the sills would require a 3 dimensional plug fitted around the coolant hoses and A/C tubes, but I didn't want to dump 10 pounds of spray foam in there. I wanted something I could remove relatively easily if need be. I got CLOSED cell packing foam from some server boxes from work and pieced together a jigsaw puzzle, and building from the bottom up like a layer cake.

I glued the pieces to the fiberglass and each other with Goop, and sealed all edges with latex spray foam. Latex = water cleanup. Polyurethane = ruined paint and leather.

The frame extrusions were "sealed" with gray gaffer's tape, which I replaced with latex foam.

The car smelled like Goop (tolulene) for 3 days, and then gloriously clean. I drive it every chance I get.

I repeated the shop-vac test and got nothing. Interestingly, from the shop-vac suction, air now blows from the dash vents. I don't think it did before.

I think I had a combination of gas vapor from the leaky charcoal canister valve getting drawn through the right side sill, and (probably) VOCs inside the sills, both passing through the dash.


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Are you selling a foam kit?
Does it include the Latex spray?
Do you take Paypal?
Is "A" the left or right side, with "B" being the other. Whre do pieces "C" & "D" go?
Do I need to have a Sears Shop vac to install? What is the shop vac hose ID?
Inquiring minds need to know!
Very good Sir!

You did a great job.
Yup, closed cell foam is a must. I work in the synthetic turf industry as a supplier, and I remember an end user demanding their field be built on top of OPEN CELLED foam. They ended up using 5x the normal amount of our product. I wish everyone made that mistake. ;)

PS That first pic looks like some sort of bizarre suicide machine. :eek:

Good job on taking the time to fix that problem; it appears to be a lot of work.
Are you selling a foam kit?
What, and deprive you of all the fun? I've experienced enough foam for a lifetime!

Is "A" the left or right side, with "B" being the other. Where do pieces "C" & "D" go?
"A" is the bottom layer, "B" 2nd from bottom, etc. C & D stack up to the top just in front of the door switch. So A1, B1, C1 and D1 are on top of each other. Left side pictured. I made the right side a perfect mirror image then had to redo it from scratch because of the A/C tubes.

PS That first pic looks like some sort of bizarre suicide machine. :eek:
Need to do this mod. Smell gas with the windows down but not up.
Not to jack the thread, but my car always smells like the inside of a tire store. Rubber-like but not a burnt odor... Not the worst smell, just puzzling.
shop vac was really brilliant imo. Nice work.
Not to jack the thread, but my car always smells like the inside of a tire store. Rubber-like but not a burnt odor... Not the worst smell, just puzzling.
I don't normally get that, but when I parked the car after a rainy day last Sunday, it smelled like hot rubber. Could not localize it.

I will have different tires on it when I take it out to fuel it tonight. We will see.
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