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help with foul electric - like smell

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Main Forum' started by riprius, May 14, 2010.

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  1. riprius

    riprius New Member

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    Hi all. I'm new to the forum and hoping to get some help with a problem we experienced today with our 06 Prius - 63k miles. Up to this point, the car has been completely trouble-free. Abruptly, there was an extremely strong, foul electric-like smell throughout the cabin. No sudden acceleration, not pulling any heavy loads, no out of the ordinary driving. The weather was in the low 60s today. No a/c or heat being used at the time. The smell persists or becomes even stronger after the car sits turned off for several hours. the battery vent was not blocked, but the smell does appear to be stronger at the vent. The smell is so strong that we can't tolerate sitting in the car. Has anyone heard of similar issues or have any ideas as to the potential cause? Thanks in advance for your consideration.
  2. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    My only advice is take it and have it checked out. Obviously something is happening. You will get opinions about what it could be, but over the internet it's going to be impossible to really know. I'd do this sooner as opposed to later. If something is in the process of burning or the process of failing it could cascade and become worse and do more damage.

    I'm sure others will have much more detailed ideas as to potential problems but my advice is don't wait. Get it checked out as quickly as possible.
  3. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    I agree that this should be checked out if the smell persists and you can get the dealer's service writer to confirm the unusual smell. Your traction battery might be having a problem. Maybe you are smelling electrolyte leaking from a battery module, or maybe one of the system main relays within the battery case is overheating. Good luck.
  4. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    KOH electrolyte is practically odorless, as is the plastic used
    to build the NiMH battery modules. In recent days I have finally
    narrowed down what that typical smell comes from -- the little
    rubber vent tubes that connect across the top of the whole hybrid
    pack. The smell wafts up through the ductwork and out the seat
    vent. Remember the "sniff your duct" thread? I will likely have
    an "exploratory" writeup covering this and related rear-of-car
    topics soon.
    .
    But since we have no medium to exchange olfactory samples through
    the net, for all I can know you *could* be smelling something
    different if there's an actual problem...
    .
    _H*
    1 person likes this.
  5. firepa63

    firepa63 Former Prius Owner

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    Definitely have the dealer check it out. The traction battery is still under warranty.
  6. macmaster05

    macmaster05 Senor Member

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    Let me guess, the smell is like a sour odor coming from the vents? This usually happens after the ac is turned on and there is a lot of pollen in the air. Closing the vents is a temp fix to help while driving but what I believe you have is a dirty air filter. I believe the problem will subside with changes in the weather but keep a close eye and get the battery checked just in case.
  7. riprius

    riprius New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your guidance. This morning there was some residual smell, but not nearly as strong. Brought it to the dealer and they couldn't recreate the smell. Battery reportedly checked out ok. Hopefully, it was just a fluke occurrence.
  8. macmaster05

    macmaster05 Senor Member

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    Like I said, I think it is a combination of a dirty air filter plus the climate/air/pollen levels. I've had that sour electrical smell a couple times too, it was right after I used the AC for the first time in a long time. No big deal, just closed the air vents until it subsided (took about 15 minutes).
  9. dster

    dster New Member

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    Most posts point to the vent leading to the hybrid battery---wondering if the odor is safe, how to get rid of it, etc. One guy's link said it's the black rubber tubes that fit over the vent valves on the battery modules casuing the source of the smell---he removed them and the smell vanished (search for Hobbit to find his link). Not sure if that's safe to do, but I'm about to sell the car because this smell is so overpowering. Any suggestions? I have an appt. with the dealer this week, but they already told me there's nothing they can do. Toyota corporate is completely denying the problem. Thank you.
  10. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    Yeah it's definitely worth checking out if those rubber vent tubes are the source of the problem. I think the dealers cant do anything because they don't know what the cause is.

    Personally I've never experienced it because it seems only a small number of Prius suffer from the problem.
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