2012 Chevy Equinox - Burning Smell from Engine

I have a two part newbie question. Own a 2012 Chevy Equinox with 80k miles on it. Always do proper maintenance (oil changes and scheduled items) and have never had an issue. It’s the first car I’ve ever owned, bought it new, so I’ve never had to get any paid work done besides oil changes and tires/brakes.
Recently, I’ve noticed a burning rubber smell coming from the engine. I don’t notice it when I turn it on, but it gets worse the longer I drive the car. Did a quick check of the car and not noticing anything stuck – also, no leaking fluids.

My two sets of questions:
-Anything major I should be looking out for?
-How do auto repair stores deal with diagnostics? I’ve heard not to go to a Chevy dealership because they will charge much more, but what kind of repair-shop should I go to (I see many of them have specialties). Also, if it’s a major repair should I take it to multiple shops to get quotes, or will I have to pay multiple diagnostic fees?

Thank you for answering the newbie questions!

A drop or 2 of oil on an exhaust manifold etc. can make quite a bit of stink. Dealers vary, the ones near me are fairly competitive, but I have a shop I have been loyal to many years. The dealer may have seen this issue before as an indie might not. If it is a recall item you are in luck. I had an 03 ford truck, TSB on oil dripping due to debris on head gasket during manufacture. A dealer would have replaced the head gasket as an only option. Mechanic put a pece of metal in to divert the drips away from the exhaust, worked fine. It was getting very bad, could not drive on the highway without the windows down.

I’ve got a 2011 Equinox LT, bought brand new in 2011. 132k+ miles on it now. Never smelled any burning rubber on mine, nor have I heard of such a complaint with these vehicles.

But let me ask you this: mine has the rock-solid 3.0L engine. Which engine do you have? If it’s the 2.4L engine, that’s the one with the Class Action Lawsuit regarding Excessive Oil Consumption (2010, 2011, and 2012 models). Have you noticed any problems with the engine running low on oil? Has the engine gotten any noisier than when it was new? Not every one of the 2.4L engines in these three model years has this problem (at least, that’s the belief based on some owners claiming no issues), but nobody really knows (other than GM) how many do! Low oil (from defective piston rings - which GM has admitted to) causes collateral damage: the Timing Chain can slacken, skip, and even snap! And the plastic Guides it travels across have been known to disintegrate inside the Timing Cover - due to increased friction and heat build up. The Consumed Oil also goes through the Catalytic Converters, destroying them WAY before their time! It’s a bad situation.

That’s why 13 people in 3 states brought a Class Action suit against General Motors. If you have the 2.4L engine, you will be receiving a Letter in the mail very shortly about this suit. I can tell you more about what I’ve learned from reading everything I could about the Suit, but let’s find out if you have the 2.4L engine first.

It’s funny you bring this up - I got the letter saying my car was involved the day after this started happening!

But after speaking with Chevy I’m not sure if it’s going to be covered under the recall - my Chevy burns very little oil. I don’t think I’ve ever had to add any between my 6-month/6,000mi synthetic oil changes. They said in order to qualify I’d have to burn over 2 quarts every 1,000 miles, which I don’t think would apply to me.

So unfortunately I don’t think I would be covered under the recall, but the cause might be related!

Would you recommend I start off with a dealer? Do they charge a diagnostic fee, or will they just look at it and give me a quote?

Check with your dealer, I cannot answer that question. There is not a hard and fast rule.

2012 owners only have 7.5 years from “the date of initial sale or lease” anyway, so (as it stands right now), you might already be out of luck (besides the fact that it sounds like your engine couldn’t fail the Consumption Test anyway)! What was your purchase date?

Funny how some people say their 2.4l engine doesn’t burn oil because GM admitted they put defective rings into 3 model years of 2.4L engines (2010, 2011, and 2012) - before they finally corrected the problem (allegedly) in May of 2013. How are some of these engines not burning oil? Makes you wonder if GM really knows what parts went into what engines…

Thanks for the info!

Luckily, I am covered on the date of sale. However, the dealer said I probably wouldn’t be covered under the recall because they have to run an oil leakage test first before correcting any issues. Basically do an oil change, come back 1,000 miles later, then retest the oil level. Since mine isn’t really burning any, I don’t think I’d be eligible (assuming what he said was correct).

Would you pursue this farther? The smell is definitely coming from my engine, around the middle/right under the hood. Would that indicate oil or other fluids leaking?

Take the vehicle to an independent shop, and ask if they can find any oil leaks anywhere on the engine.


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You should OPT-OUT of that class action suit if you’re not going to benefit from it within the 7.5 year window of time. This way you can still sue GM later in Small Claims Court if it turns out your piston rings fail. If you don’t OPT OUT, you will be included in the suit, which means you’ll release GM of any future liability - but you’ll get nothing from the suit, too! This is exactly what GM wants: for everyone to be included, but then for very few to actually benefit.

Is this smell coming from the Timing Chain side of the engine?

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Good info - it’s coming from top-right of the engine (as best I can smell).

Pic attached.

You have circled the top left. Left, right, fore, aft are from the perspective of a person sitting in the car seat. Is that black box covering the battery? Two burning smells I think of are 1) an overheated electrical connection - a kind of acrid, hot plastic smell, and 2) burning rubber, like a belt that is slipping because it’s not tight enough, or because one of the components it spins has a tight bearing. A burning oil smell, as mentioned, is another possibility.

I think that box you circled is the engine fuse box. The battery is underneath that two-level cover just in front toward the front edge of the engine compartment. That two-level cover covers the ECU.

I tried sniffing around that circled area on my 2011 Nox (3.0L engine) and nothing. But you might have something electrical in that fuse box burning up? I’d try taking off that cover and looking around for anything obvious.

There’s no way to tell over the internet where the odor is coming from. Could be something simple like a valve cover leak that is dripping on the exhaust manifold. That’ll definitely create a stink. There’s so many places in a car that can leak, impossible to say; you need an actual in-shop inspection. Either that or just ignore it, maybe it will go away, or if not maybe it will get so bad you’ll see where the problem is located. Make sure to routinely check all the engine compartment fluid levels in the meantime.

I wouldn’t suggest to use a dealership for this problem myself. Ask your friends, relatives, church-goers, gym members, anybody you have a personal relationship with who they use to fix their cars. From that list interview a couple of shops that work on Chevy’s, and choose the one that best addressed your questions. Questions to ask might be: How much experience do you have w/Nox’s; How do you determine how much to charge; what sort of guarantee or warranty on your shop’s work do you provide. You’re trying to find a shop that has a lot of experience and seems to be honest and forthright. If they tell you they are able to fix any problem you have fast for cheap, that’s not the shop to use. If they tell you that sometimes the first fix doesn’t do the job, and if that happens just bring the Nox back in and they’ll keep working the problem until they find a fix that does work, that’s the sort of thing I like to hear.