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2011 Toyota Camry - HVAC issues

I love your column! I have a 2011 Toyota Camry. I’m having an issue of hearing clicking sounds when I turn on the AC or heating. I also smell fumes inside the vehicle whenever I use either. Just the other day, I started the car, turned up the heat and within a few minutes (sometimes seconds of starting), there comes a strong smell of something – this time it was gasoline. I tried to wait for the smell to go away; when it didn’t, I rolled down the two front windows and it seemed to have gotten worse. Sometimes it smells like gasoline, sometimes it smells like transmission fluid, or it smells like antifreeze. I haven’t noticed a leak in my driveway. I’ve kept up the maintenance of the vehicle; oil changes at dealership, etc. At the last oil change, I was told that my oil was too low. I told them that I keep up the maintenance so, they should have noticed something and that maybe they didn’t put enough oil in the last oil change that I had since I didn’t notice leakage in my driveway. They, the Toyota dealership, told me that they did notice a little moisture, but wasn’t sure what it was and to keep an eye on it and bring the car back for them to check the oil level at 2,000 miles. That’s coming up soon. Thank you for your opinion.

You should be checking your oil level at least every fill up . It is best to pick one day a week and check before starting the vehicle. As for the smells any independent shop can solve this , you don’t need a dealer for a 9 year old vehicle.

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I chose to take my 9 year old vehicle to the dealer because the independent shop didn’t solve the smell issue so while they were changing my oil at a very good price I mentioned the smell to see if they would be able to tell me something different. If anyone else responds to my question, please don’t tell me what I don’t have to do with my vehicle, but give me some suggestions on what it “could” be. That would be most helpful. I don’t check my oil on every fill up because I keep up with the maintenance (oil change) schedule and leave that to them.

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You never said that an independent shop did not solve your problem . And not checking your oil level means you are not keeping up with maintenance. Checking fluids , tire pressure and following the owners manual service schedule is actual maintenance.
This is a free open forum which means you will not only get useable advice but some that is not.

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Keeping up with maintenance includes checking your own oil.

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If your car starts burning or leaking oil and you run low enough, you’ll damage or destroy your engine. If that happens, which is certainly a possibility given its age, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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That type of… logic… could wind-up being fatal to your engine.
If you take a look at your Owner’s Manual, it likely states something along the lines of…
Check your oil every time that you fill the gas tank.

Even if you don’t check it at every fill-up, you should certainly check it at least once each month.
If the oil level proves to have dropped below the “full” mark, then you need to check it every week.

If you don’t know how to do this, or if you prefer to not do it yourself, I strongly urge you to enlist the help of a friend, relative, neighbor, or co-worker who can do it for you. Otherwise, you risk damaging or destroying your engine.

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Good advice given about your fluids.

Here are some things the smells could be:
Gasoline smell could be a gasoline leak.
Transmission smell could be a transmission leak.
Coolant smell could be a coolant leak.

now, these could all be from your car, or they could be from other cars you are following on the street or those nearby you. Do you make it a practice to use the a/c control buttons to change to Recirculating inside air (or MAX- depending on how your controls are labeled)?
Using outside air will also allow outside smells in. In some cars, the outside smells can come in stronger than other cars (my wife’s car, being lower to the ground than my truck, is worse about this.)
In fact, the clicking noise you mention could be your blend door malfunctioning and not allowing the inside air to recirculate.

unfortunately, to find if your car is leaking any of these smells, you are going to have to get someone you trust to look at it. We here cannot see your car, cannot smell your car, nor can we crawl under your car. If you don’t trust your previously used local mechanic, and now don’t trust your dealership- then find another mechanic and get a third opinion. You can use the “Mechanic Files” link at the top of this page to find reputable mechanics in your area, or ask friends and family who they suggest.

but if you continually smell exhaust or gasoline smells, please do not wait on getting this looked at. Those can both be deadly.

and in the meantime- get used to checking your own oil. That knowledge is power when it comes to someone else trying to tell you that your engine is burning oil when it may or may not be.

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Ok. Sounds good. Thank you.