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Old 05-01-2014, 01:01 PM   #1
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Exhaust smell in cabin of New JK Rubicon-X

Hi y'all. I'm hoping you can help me diagnose a problem with my 2014 JK Rubicon-X. It's the one thing that stands between me and off-road bliss.

It has less than 1,000 miles on it. A couple weeks after delivery (not right away), it developed a strong exhaust smell in the cabin as soon as the engine warms up. I took it to the dealer this week, and they test-drove it and shrugged, said all-normal smells, and sent me on my way with the same problem.

It's possible I'm crazy, but the smell of exhaust (hydrocarbons, tailpipe smell) is totally different from the great New Jeep Smell (Plastic and Rubber) that is there in the morning. On some days, it's totally unbearable, and I have to drive with the windows rolled down. It makes me queasy and really gets into the nostrils for hours after driving. There is *no* CEL/MIL/OBD error.

This is not a "hot oil spilled on engine" smell, "new engine burnoff" smell, or a tranny fluid or brake smell, but exactly the same fumes you might whiff standing close to the exhaust pipe, or running the engine in a closed garage.

It happens at low speed, parked, and on the highway. I've tried closing the air vents, running them full blast, A/C and Heater, recirc/fresh and really can't say it makes a big difference. The air coming out of the Fresh vents on full blast seems fine to me, but the cabin get saturated. Parked/idling is about the same as driving, in terms of how strong the smell is.

So here's what I've done to try to diagnose:
1) The dealer said they looked at the exhaust manifold under the shields and found no cracks or defects. I don't know if they really did.
2) I looked under the hood and saw no dangling hoses, but want to dig deeper.
3) I put a home carbon monoxide detector in the car, and it did *not* alert.
4) I inspected the seals around the rear hatch, doors, and re-seated the hard top, all checked out fine (hell, New).

Where would you look next? Do they really all smell like this? If the test-drive had this same odor, I would have walked away for sure. I have to find a fix for this, since I really want to keep this car.

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Old 05-01-2014, 01:13 PM   #2
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I'd like to study the EGR plumbing and anything visible under the hood that might leak exhaust-like fumes. Is there a diagram or picture showing the crankcase hose routing, PAIR canister? or other California smog-collection farkles?

One forum suggestion was to PLUG the exhaust with a rag or potato and see if it stalls or comes out somewhere else. Is this safe or likely to trip Check-Engine codes?

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Old 05-01-2014, 02:09 PM   #3
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If it's as simple as driving up some ramps and removing heatshield bolts, I wouldn't mind inspecting the hot exhaust parts myself for cracks and such. I see references to 'lower' and 'upper' heatshields, with different levels of difficulty. Has anyone done this? Is it 'novice-grade' access, or more difficult?

Another option is to take it to a *different* dealer and start over, hoping for a better nose and analysis. I simply don't believe this is normal, or they would sell a lot fewer Wranglers.
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Old 05-01-2014, 02:14 PM   #4
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Take it to your local fire station and ask the guys to check with a CO detector, I'd bet if they aren't busy they would. Getting queezy doesn't sound good and in fact if you can get it checked and their are elevated levels of CO in the cab, I'd got to the dealer in another vehicle and tell them to pick it up and fix it.
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Old 05-01-2014, 02:26 PM   #5
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You should not have an exhaust smell in the cabin when buttoned up. When cold, chock your wheels, start the vehicle and get underneath and feel the exhaust joints for leaks. You might actually hear the leak if there is one. Again, you'll definately feel it if you have a leak.
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Old 05-01-2014, 02:35 PM   #6
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Take it to your local fire station and ask the guys to check with a CO detector, I'd bet if they aren't busy they would. Getting queezy doesn't sound good and in fact if you can get it checked and their are elevated levels of CO in the cab, I'd got to the dealer in another vehicle and tell them to pick it up and fix it.
That's a really good idea, if there's exhaust getting into the cabin they'll know real fast. The fact that the home detector didn't trip it means what you'e smelling might not be exhaust. Still I wouldn't chance it and would try the local firehouse. The guys [volunteers] where I live are great and would be very eager to help. I'm sure that's the case with most of them.
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Old 05-01-2014, 02:50 PM   #7
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Take it to your local fire station and ask the guys to check with a CO detector, I'd bet if they aren't busy they would. Getting queezy doesn't sound good and in fact if you can get it checked and their are elevated levels of CO in the cab, I'd got to the dealer in another vehicle and tell them to pick it up and fix it.
Excellent idea! That would be the true test, and IF it came back with elevated levels, I would take it back in a heartbeat! Imagine the liability?
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Old 05-01-2014, 03:02 PM   #8
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Excellent idea! That would be the true test, and IF it came back with elevated levels, I would take it back in a heartbeat! Imagine the liability?
Precisely, if you have a couple of local FD folks with facts to back it up the dealer would have to be very stupid to ignore you.
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Old 05-01-2014, 06:25 PM   #9
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Thanks for the great ideas. I'm looking forward to having a good look and sniff underneath, following the exhaust. If I don't find it, I'll see if a friendly Fire Dept has some time to measure.

I'm relieved to hear they're not all like that.

The queasy comes from the stink, I suspect, more than the monoxide (no purple lips, lightheaded, or sleepy reaction, but who knows).
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Old 05-02-2014, 02:31 PM   #10
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I drove it up on ramps this morning, got on my creeper and inspected it from cold to radiator-fan hot. I found nothing, and curiously -- smelled nothing under the car. It sounded beautiful, no puffs or leaks, no smoke, nothing loose, nothing damaged.

I popped the hood and really tried to get my head into the engine bay to sniff around, but also found nothing.

Then I drove to work, and same 'ole smell.

I pulled over to puzzle about this and got as close to the tailpipe as I dared to breathe that, and now I'm thinking it's *not* the same smell. The tailpipe smells more completely-burned. Less noxious. The smell in the cabin is more of the "just started a cold car" exhaust smell, a little closer to raw fuel vapors than exhaust from a hot engine.

Does this make sense? It's not an evaporating-gasoline (raw fuel/leak) smell, but that smell for the first few moments on a cold engine.

So -- where would that kind of smell originate? I'm looking for a pipe or hose, possibly related to emissions or crankcase-vapors?

I'm still convinced this is not a normal or good smell, and that other Jeeps don't do this. If I can find someone to trade keys, I'd like to confirm that too. Haven't visited the FD yet, but based on my engine-to-tailpipe inspection, I'm less convinced it's plain exhaust.
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Old 05-02-2014, 03:02 PM   #11
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Maybe my nose isn't all that calibrated, and this could be a very small fuel leak, just a drop now and then getting vaporized?
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Old 05-02-2014, 05:26 PM   #12
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Do you have a cabin filter (behind the glove box), or something behind the spare tire (vehicle vent)?

Bob K.
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Old 05-02-2014, 05:52 PM   #13
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I had a similar problem which was caused by burnt differential fluid (whale oil") Stunt like hell and dealer said it was my fault for pulling trailer. Finally changed oil and problem solved.
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Old 05-02-2014, 09:18 PM   #14
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I have a 2012 I get the smell once in awhile upon exceleration. Have not figured it out in 2 years.
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Old 05-02-2014, 10:09 PM   #15
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I too had a faint smell during my break in period on my 14. I only noticed it during moderate acceleration. Now at 2k miles..haven't noticed it for 1k miles or so.
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Old 05-02-2014, 11:45 PM   #16
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Thank you for bringing this up ! I have been going through the smell thing too. I have a 2012 and have the smell when I go to pass or pick up speed quick. I have taken it in to a dealer two times at different dealerships and questioned the service advisor at another. Everyone of them said they never heard of that. I got the same reply. Nothing seems to be wrong. I recently changed my stock muffler in hopes this would solve the issue. It did not.
I too thought I was crazy. I will now take it back and have them read this thread. They have an issue that they do not want to admit to.
Again thank you for posting this issue. I will post a follow up to what the dealer says. I will also try to get someone from Jeep to talk to me. ( yea right who am I kidding)
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:41 AM   #17
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I get a exhaust smell when going balls out to pass someone or just having some fun on an onramp. I attribute it in my case to the exhaust getting sucked into the rear window since I have a softop.
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:48 AM   #18
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Bob K: I do see a (white paper) filter behind my glove box. I believe it's the cabin air filter. What can I learn from it?

Differential or transmission fluid smells nasty indeed, even when it's working just fine. I could be wrong, but this smells different from that. I didn't see any leaks or wetness under there.

I know the car is still in a bit of break-in, having just crossed the first 1,000mi, but I'm puzzled by the fact that the first few weeks were not smelling like this.

There are some things that happened around the same time, and I'm really looking for all possibilities:
1) I installed a nice Ham Radio. This required poking a wire through the firewall (near the brake booster), but I rechecked that today and there is no gap around the small coax. It's a really small hole. There might be more to it, if I damaged something around the cabin air filter or bumped some air seal or hose loose under the hood during the install. I'm open to ideas of where to look. I was looking behind the glove box, but didn't install anything there.

2) I had a rat (rat!) take up residence under the hood, and bring a pound of acorns to the battery tray. I cleaned it up (and set traps), took off the engine cover, and looked for anything the rat might have chewed, but found nothing. This one didn't seem like a chewer/nesting kind, tearing stuff up, but I might have missed something.

I haven't checked any vent by the spare tire. What am I looking for back there? Is there a vehicle vent? (That seems like it could suck in exhaust from the back)

The smell *does* get stronger after a hard pull up a hill or onramp, so it sounds similar to others. The best mitigation seems to be closing all the vents and driving with the windows open. If I have to breathe the fumes for an hour, it's a miserable drive. I must get back to how it was the first week, just fresh air and new-Jeep-smell.
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Old 05-03-2014, 02:11 AM   #19
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john john, you're a more patient man than I.

I've decided I can't live with the car like this, and will try multiple dealerships or Jeep until it gets resolved one way or another.

Aside from the acrid smell, the car runs great.. no strange noises, no misfires or check-engine lights, nothing. MPG isn't great at about 11mpg around town, but seems to be typical.

But yeah, there's no way I can have a daily-driver that gets me everywhere with a headache.
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Old 05-03-2014, 03:28 AM   #20
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Try using your Recirculate heater/Ac feature, and see if that either makes it better, or worse. This way you will have a better idea, if its coming from the outside, or something that is already inside.

I would also go back to your Dealer, and road test another new one. This way you will be able to see if it is, just the new vehicle smell, or not.
Make sure that the one that you road test has the same seats as yours, cloth, or leather, so it is a apples, to apples comparison!

When I purchased my 2013 new, it had a order inside that I did not care for, but in time, it has gone away.
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Old 05-03-2014, 06:40 AM   #21
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The stink I got came from the differential vent hose. The dealer checked out the cat and other exhaust components before finally pulling the drain plug on the rear end. Smelled just like exhaust in the cabin.
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:35 AM   #22
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The stink I got came from the differential vent hose. The dealer checked out the cat and other exhaust components before finally pulling the drain plug on the rear end. Smelled just like exhaust in the cabin.
Xena1, I think you could be right. I believe it to be coming from the back like the back window is open. The hose comes up to the back. This gives me the reason to reroute it since I just increased my lift by 2".
Than you I am confident that this is where the smell is coming from. I will try to have this done today and post my results.
Peace.
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:38 AM   #23
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The stink I got came from the differential vent hose. The dealer checked out the cat and other exhaust components before finally pulling the drain plug on the rear end. Smelled just like exhaust in the cabin.
What part of Georgia are you in. I lived around Atlanta for a good while. I am now in Panama City beach. Fl.
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:44 AM   #24
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Well, although the smell came from my vent hose, it was the burnt differential oil that was the root cause. I ended up pulling the cover, cleaning out the stinky oil and refilling with new oil. It was a 2005 with the optional HD Dana rear-end. If you undue the refill plug, your nose will tell you immediately! I live near Blue Ridge.
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:57 AM   #25
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Well, although the smell came from my vent hose, it was the burnt differential oil that was the root cause. I ended up pulling the cover, cleaning out the stinky oil and refilling with new oil. It was a 2005 with the optional HD Dana rear-end. If you undue the refill plug, your nose will tell you immediately! I live near Blue Ridge.
Thank you for the info. My smell isn't too bad and only when I step on it so I have been controlling it that way.
I will be re gearing in the next two months so I will move the hose and see how that goes until the re gear.
Nice area up there. I lived in Clayton for I bit. Loved the mountains!!! Thanks for the info.
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:59 AM   #26
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Here is an idea. Tell your dealer it needs to be fixed. Also tell them your next stop is a TV station and the newspaper.
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Old 05-03-2014, 09:02 AM   #27
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Here is an idea. Tell your dealer it needs to be fixed. Also tell them your next stop is a TV station and the newspaper.
Yea that will probably go over like a fart in church. But if all else fails.
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Old 05-03-2014, 09:22 AM   #28
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The rear vent is behind the spare tire and allows air to escape when you close the doors. The vent should have rubber flaps that will allow air out, but not back in. If the rubber flaps are not seating properly, it could allow exhaust to be sucked in through the tailgate.
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:10 AM   #29
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The rear vent is behind the spare tire and allows air to escape when you close the doors. The vent should have rubber flaps that will allow air out, but not back in. If the rubber flaps are not seating properly, it could allow exhaust to be sucked in through the tailgate.
Thank you. I will check that out too. I has to be something minor that is causing this.
Thanks.
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Old 05-03-2014, 11:01 AM   #30
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Pull the cabin filter and operate the vehicle as normal. See if the smell dissipates.

Bob K.

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