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sprinkles08
sprinkles08, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Australia Car
Satisfied Customers: 21599
Experience:  ASE Master and Advanced level certified. Factory trained with 15 years dealership experience
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Pathfinder TI: About 4 weeks ago I noticed light smoke coming

Customer Question

About 4 weeks ago I noticed light smoke coming through the driver side front vents on an intermittent basis. The smoke had a "burn smell" to it. For the first time since this problem surfaced, the weather has changed to cool and wet. While I was driving yesterday i discovered that the windscreen was fogging up on the driver side but not the passenger side although air came out of both sides. I have been checking the internet for clues as to what the problem might be and it seems the problem could be associated with the mode motor or blend motor. What is your view and where do I find the faulty part under the dashboard.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Australia Car
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 7 months ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer!Rather than smoke I'm wondering if what you were seeing coming from the vents was either refrigerant, coolant, or it may have been condensation. When a/c charge gets low it can partially condense moisture in the air passing through and it goes back out of the vents as a mist.Has the coolant level been checked since this started happening?Is it leaving a film of any kind on the windshield?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Hi,There was a smell to the smoke - a burning smell which made me suspicious of burning motor or solenoid winding. When I had the issue of the front screen fogging up a few days ago, I cleaned the windscreen and I noticed from the tissue that the windscreen had a black film on it.I havent checked the refrigerant level but would the "blackish" film on the windscreen be caused by the lack of refrigerant?By the way, I have checked the coolant level in the radiator / overflow reservoir, and there is no loss of coolant.The interesting thing is that smoke has been seen come out of the driver's vents but not the passengers vents. Also, the windcreen fogs up on the drivers side only.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
What I will do next is use a thermometer to check the temperature of the air coming out of the vents at a few pre-set climate control temperatures and will let you know the outcome. If this exercise proves the aircon is working OK on the passenger side, then the refrigerant level will be assumed to be OK. Please correct me if I am wrong. Thank you.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 7 months ago.
Black film on the inside of the windshield would make smoke likely. Smoke wouldn't cause fogging on the glass but a leaking heater core, evaporator, or low system charge would as I had mentioned. It sounds like you may have more than one issue going on.The burning smell could be something foreign in the heater box, it could be the blower motor failing, or the resistor/blower motor controller failing.Checking a/c charge will require a manifold gauge set to check pressures or a recovery machine (preferred).
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Thanks for the prompt response. What steps do you suggest I take now. What I am trying to do is diagnose the problem before I give it to a qualified tradesman to repair. What I am concerned about is taking it now to an Auto electrician (as has been suggested by a local motor mechanic) and let them loose on it. They could use a trial and error approach until the issue is fixed and that can be a very costly exercise, particularly if they start pulling the dashboard apart.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 7 months ago.
The coolant level needs to be checked, the a/c system charge will likely need to be checked, and the source of the burning smell will need to be located. Smoke coming from the heater vents is going to be from one of the things I mentioned and these components need to be looked at. I don't believe the temperature issue or fogging of the glass is related to the smoke if it's actually smoke rather than vapor or refrigerant you're smelling and seeing.