'01 Dodge Caravan smells like something burned or is burning

'01 Dodge Caravan smells like something is burned or burning when the heater is on. Both heater motors run fine on all speeds, no noises, but doesn’t seem to be heating like it should. Any clues?

Does it smell sweet at all, kind of like maple syrup? That would indicate a leaking heater core.

No, nothing like that. Smells of burned something or another.

If it doesn’t seem to be heating as it should then you need to check you coolant levels before doing anything else. If you find some coolant missing this probably can’t explain the smell but you’ll be headed to a shop anyway to have the leak found and fixed. I will mention that I once had a set of heater hoses leaking. It only happened when the van was fully up to temp, and dripped directly onto the exhaust manifold. The smell it made was not a normal coolant smell. It was a very ugly kind of burning chemical smell. I have no idea whether or not that has anything to do with your heat levels or your smell. But if you aren’t getting enough heat your engine’s cooling system requires attention.

Turns out the coolant level was down 2 1/2 quarts. Seems to be heating better. Time will tell about the smell and whether or not it goes away now.

@dekare If you are down that much, how often did you check the coolant level? Regardless, you have a leak somewhere and it could be the heater core. If it has that sickly sweet smell of stale currie, that’s antifreeze. It takes only a small leak for that.

You need to have the entire cooling system inspected and pressure tested to fiind and repair the leak. And from now on, please check the coolant level once a week.

It turns out the burned smell was coming from a wire on the resistor on the heater. This can be located by dropping the glove compartment. There are no tools required to drop the glove compartment. Squeeze inward on the two “wings” after opening the glove compartment door and it allows the door to open, thus exposing the resistor. It takes a 8mm socket to remove the resistor.