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gomi_otaku, VW Technician
Category: VW
Satisfied Customers: 3459
Experience:  VW FastTrack '00-'01, VW Academy Chicago and Seattle '00-present, VW Certified
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Volkswagen Eurovan: I have a 1999 Eurovan. Every once in awhile

Customer Question

I have a 1999 Eurovan. Every once in awhile I experience fumes in the cabin, seems to be related to driving on days that it is hot and we are in traffic. The car doesn't show anything wrong with it when I get to the repair shop once the car has cooled down. The fumes are pretty strong, making everyone feel sick.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: VW
Expert:  gomi_otaku replied 2 years ago.
The intake for the rear blower is underneath the vehicle kind of up between the body and the frame- but if you have any kind of exhaust leak, or if you have a plastic bag melting on your exhaust pipe, you will smell it inside.You may also need to remove the rear bumper cover and check the rear vents that allow air OUT of the vehicle when the HVAC blower is on- air is pulled in at the front, and exits the rear. If these vents are stuck open (they should be just louver flaps) due to mice or something, you will pull in exhaust fumes all the time.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank for your reply. I'd like to try to explain this to my mechanic.
1. What is the rear blower exactly and why would I smell exhaust inside if there is an exhaust leak? How would we check if there is a leak? If there was one, why do you think it would it be very strong some of the time, but unable to detect at other times?
2. This 2nd answer is interesting as usually the AC is on when this issue occurs. It doesn't seem to produce fumes all the time, just when the car has been working hard ie we've been in the sun for awhile and we are in stop and go traffic and it's hot it makes me think that the AC is working hard to cool and then something happens to kick it into releasing fumes. Or, possibly it is releasing fumes all the time on a low level but because I usually drive shorter distances, I am not noticing it. It seems like the fume smells are coming out of the console near the driver so that's interesting that the rear vents could cause the issue. Another thing I've noticed is that when this fume smell occurs, when I get out of the car, the fume smell seems to also be coming from the bottom of the car. But because I have been smelling fumes, it is confusing on whether it is coming form the inside of the car or the outside. Of course, when I get to the mechanic, none of the smells are noticeable to anyone else. Could I get a carbon monoxide detector and monitor the air inside so that I can prove it is happening. Would carbon monoxide be evidence of exhaust fumes?
3. Besides the danger from the fumes in the car to people, are there other dangers of fire, etc?
Expert:  gomi_otaku replied 2 years ago.
OK- based on that information, I would suspect a valve cover leak is burning oil on the exhaust, and since you are in stop and go traffic, it is able to simply filter up through the engine bay and come in the vents, since the intake for the fresh air is that grill on the front of the hood, which directs to an intake under the hood. So any burning under the hood can be pulled into the fresh air intakes.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I always make sure that the 2 buttons for fresh air or recirculating air on the console are pushed down so that air circulates in the cabin versus pulling air from the outside. Would it still be able to come in thru the fresh air intake when I have selected the option to recirculate air?
Expert:  gomi_otaku replied 2 years ago.
it shouldn't- and you should hear the air sound like it increased in speed when you hit the recirc button. So it still may be the rear exit vents. You would need to pull the bumper caps off to check them