2001 Solara 3.0 - Burning Oil Smell Inside at Idle, No Visible Leak

My wife's 2001 3.0 Solara has begun having a slight smell of hot/burning oil coming through the venilation system when the car is
warmed up and standing still. When moving the smell goes away.
We have had the car up on the lift and cannot identify and source of leaking oil that could be causing this.
Any ideas?
Paul
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 11 Oct 2005 19:35:58 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net wrote:

Wow...this could be a lot of things.
Was the car RUNNING when you had it on the lift? Remember, the oil system gets pressurized, and what may NOT be leaking at a stop or idle may gush under pressure.
Are all the oil pan bolts tight?
Are you SURE it's oil? Could be tranny fluid. When they burn they smell similar. Check your tranny cooling lines.
Valve cover gaskets OK? Again, under pressure, things may leak that don't when stopped.
These are the obvious things. These problems SUCK! But, usually when this has happened to me in the past, it was the oil pan coming loose. Happened 4 times on four different Toyotas.
Also, check the gasket on the oil filter.
BTW, how many miles? If you can't figure this problrm out, I will gladly take this car off your hands, and all it will cost you is $125. BTW, what color is it? ;)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net, 10/11/2005, 3:35:58 PM,

My 97 Camry 4 has this same exact problem. I used to think it was the smell of exhaust but your description is more accurate. Does this smell occur only when you are sitting still and the fan is on?
I have no oil leaks and the dealer found nothing. I think they just didn't look for anything.
--
"You've just one problem. You stand too close to the ball after you've
hit it." -- Sam Snead
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
badgolferman wrote:

If you do not oil the rubber ring on the oil filter and wipe the seat clean- I like paper towel- at installation it might be possible for a slight deformation to form that would allow a drop at a time to escape. The 4 cyl has flanges on the block below the filter that can catch a little oil. If this is not possible on the 3 liter maybe the drip lands on part of the exaust lines and would smoke-burn away quickly with no trace? At idle and sitting still the smoke trace would pretty much surround the front of the car, but in too small amount to be visible. ??? When I change my oil, any drips or spills make breathing difficult for a little while. Airflow helps a lot.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

In my case it is definitely not the oil filter. This odor is present at all times when the vehicle is standing still and the fan is on. It doesn't matter how long it's been between oil changes and there is no oil consumption.
--
"The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course." --
Billy Graham
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 12 Oct 2005 16:20:38 GMT, "badgolferman"

I'm responding to all the responses to date. No, the car was not running on the lift. There is no physical evidence of leakage down the faces of the heads/block, so I think we can rule out the valve cover gaskets. The area around the bottom of the oil filter is dry and no evidence there of oil spillage/leakage.
Now, the idea of a very slightly loose oil pan combined with a pressurized block when running might be the solution. If it's blowing a tiny amount of air out past the gasket with some oil vapor in the air, it might be enough to make the smell as it hits the exhaust manifold or pipe, depending on where this is happening.
Does anyone know the proper torque amount for the pan bolts?
Now, one other interesting thing, is that about 6" of the rear engine cradle arms (those behind the engine and attached back behind the wheels) both are covered on the bottom (only) with a very thick black substance that looks a lot like undercoating, but the car has never been undercoated. No other part of the bottom of the car has this coating. You can wipe some of it off with a finger and its like a tar substance.
I'm surmising that this might be the remains of oil spray from the pan on both sides?
The hot/burned oil spell only occurs when the car is at a standstill and the ventilation system is running.
Paul
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 12 Oct 2005 21:53:24 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net wrote:

First, my 1980 Corolla. Losing oil, but obviously not burning it. Looking under the hood at work, an inspector points to the A arms and said, that looks like oil to me!
In '86, after tighening the oil pan 3 times in 6 years, I trade it for an '86 Corolla. Guess what?! So, every 3-4th oil change, I check the bolts (After I tightend them the second time they never came loose again...that was about 200,000 miles ago!)
Last year, I bought an '88 Supra. Guess what?! Only problem is, the oil pan was tight! All except maybe three bolts. i tightened them up, and the leaking has slowed, but it still leaks.
What you are seeing is the spray escaping from the seal, mixing with dirt, sand and road grime and becoming the tar-like substance you're seeing. You won't need to worry about rust for a while!
Now, Toyotas don't (or didn't) have pan gaskets. I think in my Supra's case, somebody removed the oil pan and put in a cork gasket, and it has developed gaps. Check with the Toyota dealer; if there is enough room, and there is a gasket, loosen the bolts and replace the gasket. (although I never had to do this before....over 200,000 on two cars without ever replacing or regooping...). You may have to 'goop' it, use whatever Toyota recommends. Or, just tighten them up and see what happens! Like I said, two cars well over 200,000!
Good luck...I'd like to know how this turns out!
Oh, and my offer is still good...$125 and I'll take it off your hands!!! I LIKE Solaras :)
But that Supra sure looks like it's going to be a PITA...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
OK. Assuming I have a loose pan or loose bolts, what is the proper torque for the pan bolts?
Paul
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 13 Oct 2005 12:39:25 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net wrote:

Tight? I have no idea. I just tighten them! i do it in a criss-cross pattern. That's all I know...
Sorry...
But be careful, either the bolts or the noles they thread into are SOFT!!!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I have checked the oil filter, engine oil pan and transmission pan bolts. All are tight and no sign of oil leakage from any of them.
If I get a chance, I'm going to clean the engine block and engine carrage frame and then watch for evidence of oil blow by.
Paul
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 19 Oct 2005 12:57:34 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net wrote:

I can't remember and am too lazy to look ;O
Did you mention/look at the valve cover and gasket?
Have you had undercoating applied to the car?
Tranny cooler lines look OK?
Yup...we ARE clutching at straws now...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"" wrote: > On Wed, 19 Oct 2005 12:57:34 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net > wrote: > > > I have checked the oil filter, engine oil pan and > transmission pan > > bolts. All are tight and no sign of oil leakage from any of > them. > > > > If I get a chance, I'm going to clean the engine block and > engine > > carrage frame and then watch for evidence of oil blow by. > > > > Paul > > I can't remember and am too lazy to look ;O > > Did you mention/look at the valve cover and gasket? > > Have you had undercoating applied to the car? > > Tranny cooler lines look OK? > > Yup...we ARE clutching at straws now...
I think the oil pan bolts are torqued to 69 in-lbs, say 6 ft-lbs. Cleaning the engine to check for leaks is a good idea. I like to use Simple Green automotive degreaser, environmentally friendly and leaves a nice minty fresh smell.
--
Posted using the http://www.autoforumz.com interface, at author's request
Articles individually checked for conformance to usenet standards
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 21 Oct 2005 14:37:30 -0400, noodlerooney wrote:

I'm sure the Chipmunks will like that when they start looking for a home for the winter! ;)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The crankcase is supposed to be held at a slight vacuum that draws oil fumes into the combustion system for burning instead of out into the atmosphere. When that one way valve is clogged, or the lines attached to it, the crankcase loses vacuum and the fumes leak out from a variety of places. It is called a PCV valve. Get a new one, they are cheap. http://www.misterfixit.com/pcvvalve.htm -bye, Rich

I'm sure the Chipmunks will like that when they start looking for a home for the winter! ;)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
OK, they always tell us when something breaks, go back to the last thing worked on and it's most likely the problem.
That proved so here, although the 60 month service had so many things touched, I had to go over the entire engine department.
And, it was right in front of all of us. The PCV valve had been pulled out of the gromet on top of the valve cover when the mechanic was working on changing the back row of spark plugs and tucked down out of sight. Putting it back in the gromet solved the smell problem.
We never found any oil leaks, and in hind sight, the symptoms make sense. You could only smell hot oil (not burning) when at idle with the ventilation system operating. If the car was off, no smell inside or out. The small amount of PC vent gas was being sucked up and into the ventilation system enough to be detectable.
Thought I'd let you all know the solution.
Paul
On Tue, 11 Oct 2005 19:35:58 GMT, " snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net"

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net, 11/1/2005,4:56:12 PM, wrote:

Thanks. I will check that tomorrow, but I don't think I will be as lucky as you. I have the 4-cylinder Camry and the PCV valve is right on top in plain view. I would have seen it loose. But I will check for a bad seat and any loose hoses also.
--
"The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course." --
Billy Graham
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 02 Nov 2005 01:35:41 GMT, "badgolferman"

Also check to see if the PCV valve is blocked or if the hoses have splits in them from age.....
Paul
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net, 11/2/2005, 1:20:43 PM,

Checked the PCV valve for operation and it is good. The hoses around the throttle body appear to be fine. I stuck my nose down near the PCV valve and I could smell an oily odor very similar to the offending one.
I called Toyota dealer for an appointment. Service manager told me to try something else first. He said I have mold spores in the vent system. He suggested I go to auto parts store and get Fridgi-Fresh spray and spray into vents. I told him this odor smells like petroleum product and he told me the plastic is being eaten away inside the vents.
I'm not sure I believe all this but if the dealer is telling me try something myself first before bringing it in I think I'll try.
--
"You don't know what pressure is until you've played for five dollars
a hole with only two in your pocket." -- Lee Trevino
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 03 Nov 2005 17:09:40 GMT, "badgolferman"

If we have molds that are eating plastic, western civilization as we know it is about to come to an end. Truly, the ultimate "meed" WILL inherit the earth!
It is possible you have mold though, but ususally they smell like urine or clorine in the vent system. They grow mostly on the evaporator where it is damp. They don't like heat, so running the heat system full blast can sometimes kill them off.
Paul
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.