Today, we had a customer bring in her 2004 Porsche Boxster because she was smelling a new smell in the Porsche and thought it was a oil smell. We had replaced her oil separator back in September and she was worried that something had gone wrong with the repair. When our customers care deeply for their vehicle whether it's a Porsche or a Volkswagen, we want you to feel completely safe and secure especially after a repair. The sweet smell made her more sensitive to how her Porsche was preforming, she was thinking there was more smoke coming out of the tail pipe than normal. After diagnosing her concerns of the sweet smell and smoking; we found that the heater core on the Boxster was leaking. A heater core is a radiator-like device used in heating the cabin of a vehicle. Hot coolant from the vehicle's engine is passed through a winding tube of the core, a heat exchanger between coolant and cabin air.
Below is a picture of what a new heater core and a leaking heater core look like. The pink stuff covering the old heater core is the baked on coolant.
After replacing the leaking heater core in the Porsche Boxster, our customer is happy and ready to start touring the wine county without worrying about the strange smell in her Porsche.
If your smelling something sweet coming out of your interior vents; its not normal, have it checked out!
Here are some tips to look for if your heater core is bad.
The most common sign of a heater core problem is when the inside of you vehicle suddenly fogs up, covering the windows in moisture. This means that the heater core is leaking, allowing hot coolant vapor into the cabin of your car.
Second most common is sweet smell almost so sweet your stomach turns. You may not always have the condensation problem along with the smell. You might also smell coolant around the outside of your vehicle. If so, take a look at the ground under your car for any dampness or drips.
If your coolant light or message is notifying you that it needs more coolant but you’re not seeing a leak there is a good chance the heater core is leaking. Most likely you'll notice moisture on the passenger side floor.
Are you not feeling like your heater is preforming normal. Another sign of a bad heater core is a lack of heat in the cabin. While it could another part of the system failing, if you’re seeing it with any other signs it’s a definite indicator. There is more than likely a hole in your heater core that’s allowing warm air to escape before it reaches your cabin. Depending on the size of the hole, you could be getting a warm breeze or none at all.
Lastly, your vehicle has overheated. If your car has overheated you’ll definitely want to check on whole cooling system, including your heater core.