Burning smell, 2014 Prius 2

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by Maeve, Oct 24, 2016.

Tags:
  1. Maeve

    Maeve New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    6
    1
    0
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Two


    I've searched here before in search of info on a burning smell in my 2014 Prius 2. I've noticed the smell off and on since I got the car nearly two years ago, but they mostly seem to say that the smell should go away around 5K miles or so.

    I'm approaching 20K, and I still notice the smell. I tend to notice it on the highway more than on back roads, though I do sometimes have it there, too. It can be immediately after accelerating to highway speed, but it can also happen after I've been driving at speed for a while (I've never noticed anything that would indicate a reproducible pattern). It usually lasts for a few minutes and then stops.

    I've taken the car to the dealer several times for regular service and every time I go, I mention that the car smells from time to time. Every time, they tell me they can't find anything wrong (but my local dealer has also always passed the car for its windshield wiper blades no matter how old they are or how much they spiderweb--and the rear one is the original--so I'm not convinced that I should trust them).

    Every time it happens, I wonder how concerned I should be, and I've meant to ask the wise folks here many times before, but this time I've managed to remember while I'm actually at a computer. I appreciate any insights you all have!
     
  2. xliderider

    xliderider Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    6,543
    2,320
    0
    Location:
    Honolulu, HI
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Can you describe the smell in more detail? Oil on the exhaust header has an oily smell. Coolant might have a slightly sweet smell, wiring insulation has an acrid plastic smell, etc.

    My wife once ran over some garbage bags that fell off a garbage truck and the bags lodged under the car. The plastic melted onto the hot exhaust pipes. Yep, the smell was like garbage and plastic lol.

    What you are describing may possibly be related to the exhaust system, where it smells after the engine has been running and the exhaust system is hot, so I'd start by inspecting the surfaces of the exhaust for anything that may be on it that's not supposed to be there. ;)
     
  3. Maeve

    Maeve New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    6
    1
    0
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    I wish I could give you more detail, but alas, I didn't because I don't know with any level of reliability what any of those things smell like (though I wouldn't describe it as "sweet"). I can, however, tell you that it's done this since I first got it and it's always the same smell, so I'm pretty sure it's not something I drove over.

    If had to take a best guess, I'd guess some sort of plastic--but I wouldn't want to bet my last breath on that guess being right.
     
  4. Jimi1976

    Jimi1976 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2013
    233
    117
    0
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Like mentioned above - without someone getting a whiff that knows the difference between burning oil and burning plastic, etc, it's near impossible to diagnose here.
    I'd take it to another shop. Obviously, your dealer doesn't care, isn't listening to you, or both.
     
  5. Maeve

    Maeve New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    6
    1
    0
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Thanks, Jimi. I've been frustrated by the fact that I can't seem to reproduce it, so I can't tell them "take it and go do this and it'll smell." Even if I left it with them for a few days, I can't guarantee it would do it while they had it. I've been wondering about the dealer, though, so maybe that's the next step. (Either that, or someone needs to invent a way to record smell, which, unfortunately, seems rather unlikely.)

    I take it, regardless, that it's not normal for something like this to be happening beyond the first few thousand miles?
     
  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    87,553
    38,971
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    i don't recall many if any smell complaints on newer prius. there have been some burning smell complaints after a long hard slog up a mountain.

    does it matter whether the ventilation fan is on or off?
     
  7. DonDNH

    DonDNH Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    1,711
    650
    0
    Location:
    Nashua, NH
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Four Touring
    The next time you get the smell, check your brakes to see if any of them are overheated. Hold your hand close to the wheel near the caliper, if you feel any heat, that could be the source of your smell. Don't touch the disk directly, if it is overheated, you could get your hand burned.
     
  8. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    39,359
    27,992
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Lots of good suggestions, possibilities.

    Not relevant, but we got an aftermarket replacement starter motor (not on a Prius), and for about the first year, every time you started the car there was this not-too-pleasant smell. Finally burned off, whatever it was.
     
  9. tpenny67

    tpenny67 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2014
    464
    398
    0
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Wiper blades can last for years, so original blades on a 2014 is no big deal. If the squeegee isn't torn or hardened, a good cleaning will make them like new:
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  10. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    39,359
    27,992
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Yeah, cleaning the blades and the windshield glass, with some specialized automotive glass cleaner, can often resolve wiper jutter. We're still on original blades on our 2010, they're behaving like new as far as I can see. OTOH, the car is mostly garage stored, and low mileage.
     
    tpenny67 likes this.
  11. Maeve

    Maeve New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    6
    1
    0
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    I pretty much always have the fan set to Auto, so I don't think it's ever been off when this has happened. I can turn it off next time and see if it makes a difference, though.

    And for what it's worth, I live in New Jersey, which is pretty flat--haven't ever driven it up a mountain.

    I'm usually in transit when this happens, and it's usually stopped by the time I get where I'm going. I've never noticed in in connection with braking, if that's relevant. I haven't tallied where I've noticed it most, but I'd guess it's on the highway, so definitely not braking at the time. Not sure if that helps?
     
  12. Former Member 68813

    Former Member 68813 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2010
    3,524
    966
    8
    Location:
    US
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    i posted a similar issue here a while back. mine is after i accelerate hard. it's not super frequent, so i didn't troubleshoot it any more.

    BTW, it's not dragging brakes and overheated brakes have a different smell altogether.

    i also had a similar issue in a 2000 Subaru where CV boot grease would slowly drip on exhaust pipe.
    so, i'm assuming there is some kind of slow oil leak in the prius as well.
     
    #12 Former Member 68813, Oct 25, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
  13. Maeve

    Maeve New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    6
    1
    0
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Wow. I'd always heard you should replace them ever 6 months or so, or whenever they start to leave spiderwebs when you use them, so this is news to me! I hadn't figured out yet how to replace the rear one, which is why it's still there, so I'll give this a try. Thanks!

    That would fit with getting on the highway and up to speed, though it doesn't explain the non-highway occurrences (but there aren't as many of those). I haven't tracked it (since I was driving!) but most of my highway driving is fairly short, local trips, maybe 10-20 minutes, so it's probably safe to say that it happens mostly right after a hard acceleration.
     
    tpenny67 likes this.
  14. Jimi1976

    Jimi1976 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2013
    233
    117
    0
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Solid point.
    There could be a dragging brake, pads worn...metal on metal, etc.
    When i suspected a dragging brake on mine, I sprayed a little water on the rotors. Overheated will basically be like spraying water onto a hot grill or frying pan. Not good.
     
  15. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    39,359
    27,992
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    You basically start rotating the blade, in the direction of creating a T-shape. At some point it starts resisting, feels like it's going to break. Just keep going through this zone, till it's T shape. At this point it becomes loose, can be removed. Be very careful once the blade is off the arm, the loose arm on it's spring could break the window glass if released from a distance. Use a rag to cushion it.

    Here's an excerpt from the Repair Manual, the tome reserved for mechanics with deep pockets. Why the eff this is not explained in the Owner's Manual is beyond me. :mad:
     
  16. Maeve

    Maeve New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    6
    1
    0
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Thank you!! I was astonished when I could not find something as basic as how to remove the wiper blades in the owner's manual! I Googled for the front ones, but never got around to the rear.
     
Loading...