Smoke coming out of the dash vents on a 2004 Saturn Vue

Hello,

A friend has an intermittent problem with white "smoke" coming out of the dash vents.

The vehicle is a 2004 Saturn Vue and has a V6 engine in it that has had the 100k timing belt service performed at around 115k. As I understand it, there's no correlation to the service and when the problem started occurring. Each time the problem has occurred the vehicle has been taken to the dealer only for the owner to be told that they can't find anything wrong with it. This has happened several times so far.

Upon searching for a possible solution, it was mentioned that it might be cracked heater core. That might explain the intermittent nature of the problem. However, I'm being told that the vehicle isn't losing any coolant (Dexcool, I believe). Supposedly, the dealer pressure tested the cooling system and found no problems with it.

Another strange symptom is that recently the low coolant light on the dash comes on, yet the vehicle isn't low on coolant and the dealer says that the vehicle is fine. I was also told that when this just happened the vehicle ran rough.

Any thoughts as to what to look for or what the problem might be? This is becoming very frustrating for the owner, who just wants to get the vehicle fixed.

Thanks in advance to those who post a reply to the group.

Peter.

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What does the "smoke" smell like? If it is acrid, possibly blower motor is getting toasted. On my '01 lw300, I had problems with the blower motor that caused a wire harness to burn out. Pulled out the radio and hvac control panels to access the area behind them. Found a connector that had burnt. Nothing necessary so cut out the offending wires and hard spliced them with solder and heatshrink. Blower switch has fried twice but it's easy to replace... got to replace the blower motor at some point.

Also had a coolant leak - not in the core but in one of the hoses leading to the core. They use o-ring seals with plastic retainers. Some coolant sludge had forced its way past the seals and then made a permanent leak. The retainers crack when you take them off and they're unique. Wound up buying a new set of metal feed tubes from saturn parts and just used the retainers. Problem solved after flushing the cooling system, cleaning the o-ring seals and installing the new retainers. I was amazed at how easy it was to get to the heater core on my car. Most cars it is a royal pain but this one slides out from a compartment on the passenger side... but I digress. There was a film on the windows, a sweet smell and the passenger side carpet was wet with coolant. But you said that there was no coolant loss.

I replaced the coolant reservoir a while back. The float that senses coolant level sprung a leak and wouldn't actuate the reed switch for coolant level. On this, an open circuit indicates low level. Shorted is normal.

When replacing the timing belt (the 3L engine is a bear to do this on), the water pump should be changed while you're in there. Coolant should also have been flushed and replaced.

Hope this gives you some ideas - Oppie

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