CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Ford Taurus 2002 SEL--Burning Smell?

When my car is stopped/idle I smell burning. However when it is in motion the smell goes away. Other than that my car runs fine. What could this be? My oil change guy told me to just add Lucas Oil Stabilizer and that would eliminate the smell but it has not worked. Any suggestions?

Don’t use that oil change guy anymore.

Take it to a real mechanic - ask around among people you know for a locally owned, independent shop with a good reputation. You probably have a leak of some kind. Have them find it and advise you.

Are you sure it’s an oil smell? Some of the Taurus cars of that vintage develop ever-so-small leakage in the seams of the plastic coolant reservoir. It’s often enough to produce a coolant smell - yet difficult to spot if you’re looking for a “wet” area.

It may not be your problem - but be aware of the possibility.

Have you looked under the hood for smoke or for any obvious oil leaks? If not, start there.

+1 to lion9car’s suggestion.

A leaking valve cover gasket can lead to oil being vaporized on the very hot exhaust manifold.
While in motion, this vaporized oil may not be apparent, but as soon as you stop the car, the smell can become very obvious.

Are you actually losing oil; having to add from time to time?

Another possibility is you could have picked up something on the road (rag, brush, etc.) that may be snagged on your exhaust or cat. converter.

+1 on JoeMario’s comment. My 1997 cracked its coolant tank. The loss was EXTREMELY slow (months to drop any amount). I noticed it more because I found two dead yellow jackets by it under the hood. $20 for a new part and a ten minute DIY repair.