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oil & brake smells from dash vents

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I have a 91 Seville and I always smell oil and brake fumes when I'm stopped in traffic.

I've had the engine steam cleaned and there no oil leaks I can see. If I use the brakes hard the cabin immediately smells like burned brakes, and I smell oil all the time, even though the engine uses no oil. It's much better at freeway speeds, but as soon as I stop it smells again. I even tried taping the intake air vents with duct tape, but that was no help. I have asthma and my car is making me sick.

I would really appreciate any help or ideas.

Thank you,


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The most likely source is the cowl intake. There is a seal that runs along the firewall, where that the hood closes on, to seal engine fumes from being sucked into the car. It may be missing, torn or collapsed enough that it does not seal anymore.

A leaking trunk seal will also allow air to be drawn in from the rear of the car. If your are sealing the cowl off with tape, the car will still be drawing in air from somewhere. It will take the path of least resistance to get in.

An old test would be to place pieces of newspaper cut about 4” wide and 6” long, along on the seal, close the hood or trunk and pull the paper out. If it comes out without tearing it is not sealing. (The narrow pieces of paper make it easy to find the potential leak source.)

You do not want to completely seal the car; obviously as you need the air exchange to stay alive. You do want the air to flow into the cowl vent and not enter from the trunk as that air will contain carbon monoxide. If your car is running good it is odorless and will make you drowsy or kill you.

Most cars are designed to have a constant flow of air to prevent this condition.

Good Luck,


Drive'em like you own 'em. - ....................04 DTS............................


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