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Chemical Smell From Vents


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I have a 1998 Lexus SC400 that runs great. Recently, there has been smell coming through the heater vents. The smell is not consistent and I can't really find a pattern. Sometimes it occurs right away, sometimes it's more noticeable when I'm idling. To me, it smells like I'm sticking my nose in a tin of band-aids. A friend says it smells more chemical, like paint thinner. Doesn't smell like burning or exhaust. No new brakes. All belts have been checked. I did have the exhaust system checked as well as a fluid compression check to rule out any leaks. Lexus says to bring it in when the smell is evident which is hard to do. If I do smell it, then when I crank up the heater with or without A/C, the smell seems stronger. I'd also say that it occurs about 25% of the time. No rhyme or reason that I can assess.

Any guesses? Any other ways to narrow this down? Thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Problem solved. I had a failure with the "pulsation fuel damper" that was slowly dripping gas on to the side of my engine. Replaced at Lexus for $350 and so far...

Symptoms were: occasionally smell of gas in the cabin of the car. AC/heat on or off didn't seem to matter. The smell came from the engine and flowed through the vents.

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