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Old 12-27-2003, 11:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Random smell

I have a 2000 Insight with 80.000 miles. During the last 8 months I occasionally have a smell, kind of like when my wife get a new perm. Almost an amonia smell. It actually will burn your nose or throat. Of course it never happens at the dealer.
It appears to come in through the vents, but does not seem to be connected the air being on or heavy acceleration. It use to happen a couple of times per week, now a little more often.
I love the car and was looking forward to replacing it with another one this spring, but not if this problem is unresolved. I put 100+ miles on per day. I thought it might be the clutch, but can put my foot down and be hitting 105 and still no smell, so I don't think that is the cause.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
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Old 12-28-2003, 01:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Have you ever replaced the cabin air filter? If not I would bet you have stuff growing on it.
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Old 12-28-2003, 10:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Random smell

replied inline

Quote:
Originally Posted by rich70MPG
I have a 2000 Insight with 80.000 miles. During the last 8 months I occasionally have a smell, kind of like when my wife get a new perm. Almost an amonia smell. It actually will burn your nose or throat. Of course it never happens at the dealer.
The best evidence that your car is not the source. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rich70MPG
It appears to come in through the vents, but does not seem to be connected the air being on or heavy acceleration. It use to happen a couple of times per week, now a little more often.
I love the car and was looking forward to replacing it with another one this spring, but not if this problem is unresolved.
AFAIK Honda sales reps don't read here so Honda couldn't care less whether you buy another one based on your post here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rich70MPG
I put 100+ miles on per day. I thought it might be the clutch, but can put my foot down and be hitting 105 and still no smell, so I don't think that is the cause.
I've never heard anyone describe burning clutch friction material as having an ammonia smell and your stress test should eliminate it as a possibility. Tailpipe emissions do produce SO2 (Sulfur DiOxide) in small quantities and is related to both driving conditions and the percentage of sulfur in the gas purchased. A very acrid odor that will leave a burning sensation on the mucous membranes. Another odoriferous gas produced is hydrogen sulfide but its usually described as a rotten egg smell and is also related to the amount of sulfur in the fuel.

Your only option at this time is to try purchasing different brands of gas.

The distinct probability is that other cars around you are producing the odor.

The cabin air filter is designed to trap particulates that would otherwise end up on the evaporator coil (inside A/C coil) providing "food" for all kinds of microbes that produce variety of unpleasant odors. However, cold weather almost always kills or causes these to become dormant. There are a variety of sprays that have variable results. One of the best is an alcohol foam injected up the evap drain hose that would kill the critters. But the best fix is to "cook" the evaporator. On a relatively warm sunny day simply idle the car, windows closed with full heat on recirculate for about an hour. Cold sunny days usually do not allow sufficient heating of the cabin. This will raise the evaporators temp to over 120F and kill the perpetrator.

HTH ! :)
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Old 01-27-2004, 11:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Random smell

Quote:
Originally Posted by rich70MPG
I have a 2000 Insight with 80.000 miles. During the last 8 months I occasionally have a smell, kind of like when my wife get a new perm. Almost an amonia smell. It actually will burn your nose or throat. Of course it never happens at the dealer.
It appears to come in through the vents, but does not seem to be connected the air being on or heavy acceleration. It use to happen a couple of times per week, now a little more often.
I love the car and was looking forward to replacing it with another one this spring, but not if this problem is unresolved. I put 100+ miles on per day. I thought it might be the clutch, but can put my foot down and be hitting 105 and still no smell, so I don't think that is the cause.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
I just bought a new Civic Hybrid and had a similar smell for the first 550 miles. When I refuled with a different gas (who knows what the dealer used) the smell vanished and hasn't returned. Perhaps my first tank of gas was high in sulfur?

Joe Edwards
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Old 01-28-2004, 12:28 AM   #5 (permalink)
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maybe its the gas reliesed by the batteries as they charge...i know w/ ev's you have to vent the batteries when they charge b/c of the gas
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Old 01-28-2004, 12:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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No the Insight batteries are sealed. If your getting a smell from the batteries there's a serious problem. You will get some smells from flooded batteries though, especially if you over charge them you will get the rotten egg smell.

It's been a month Rick70mpg, wheres the update?
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Old 01-28-2004, 01:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hmmm... It could be the catalitic converter is going bad. When the cats are new they smell darn awful, just liks a perm. But, since your Insight already has 80,000 miles on it I bet that maybe your cat is going bad or you've got bad gas like others have stated.

Do you notice the smell all of the time or just when accelerating?
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