Odorless toxic fumes





CO and gas analyzers were used to test under driving conditions.


I believe you stated it started 5 months ago. Now the PVC as mentioned earlier might be a cause, but are there any other things that might have happened 5 months ago? Big rains, hvac issues? ruling out all other I guess I would start looking at the ductwork.


@asemaster “I’m discounting the idea of it being motor oil” Why?

“oil mist or vapor is not really present under normal operating conditions”

Really? Where is the proof?

Oil seals are designed to retain liquid oil not vapors. High mileage car engines are full of oil deposits in many places where there are no oil leaks. Engine always develops vapors due to hot temperatures.

Please help me understand. Thanks!


@Barkydog I didn’t see anyone mention PVC. It was replaced and all manifold gaskets replaced.

5 months ago I switched from conventional oil to full synthetic oil.


You could work w/your doctor to test for each fluid , one by one, systematically. The doctor might recommend a skin patch test. Or asking you to breath a dilute concentration of the vapor and measuring the physiological response via a spirometer or the like. Eventually you should be able to determine which of the fluids or gasses is causing your symptoms. I expect you already know that most people who drive in cars experience no symptoms like this at all. But every person has a different response to allergic agents. Most kids can eat as many peanut butter sandwiches as the can fit into their stomach and have no adverse symptoms. Some kids eat half a peanut and they start wheezing.


I think the proof is that this problem has only been an issue for several months. And yet you’ve been in, around, and driven cars all your life. Engines are exponentially more oil, vapor, fume, and odor tight now than they were 20, 30, 40 years ago. Unless your engine/transmission is excessively worn, neglected, or damaged, oil fumes/vapor/mist are simply not present in any significant amount in the normal operation of a car.

Now I’m not saying that a 20 year old car with 250,000 miles doesn’t produce more tailpipe emissions and more “blow-by” than a new one, but the increased amounts are easily handled in a well-maintained drivetrain. One need only to look at a parking lot today vs. 20 years ago to see how much less oil leakage and seepage is a problem these days.

You say your wife and kids ride in the car with no issues. Other people can note no unusual odors or fumes. Several (am I correct?) shops have addressed the issue and found no faults. Auto mechanics and auto service people aren’t suffering increases in lung cancer or respiratory issues lately, and you say you’re experiencing similar issues in another car as well. I’m not sure that the problem is with the cars.


@GeorgeSanJose Doctors don’t do that. Not possible. Only environmental research labs which don’t really exist.


@asemaster I spoke with an oil service technician who periodically gets sick from similar symptoms. He has had bad health for about 8 years since he started working with car oil.

Again, most people like yourself are not hyper-sensitive. I will try to repair all oil leaks but it will take time and money. If that doesn’t work I will trash it.

Trust me no mechanic and auto industry want to blame cars. It’s bad business.


I had a skin allergy 30 years ago, thought is might be due a solvent I was using in my garage for car repair work., My doctor did a patch test to tell me which solvent was causing it. The patch test said was the brake cleaner. I always use gloves now when handling brake cleaner and that allergy never returned.


Because oil stinks! It’s probably the LEAST “odor-free” contaminant. The fact that whatever is getting you sick, has no odor, rules out automotive lubricants almost entirely.


It’s pretty apparent you didn’t come here for ideas, but to vent. This is a very uncommon problem, so blaming the car industry for a major problem is misguided. You appear to have a very specific allergy.


@GeorgeSanJose Went to 2 allergy clinics and they could only test for basic allergy tests.

I always use gloves and masks when working on cars.


I agree. I am out of here.


@asemaster @meanjoe75fan

To be more exact. I didn’t want to say it was the actual oil getting me sick but the toxic additives in the oil that escape out of engine oil seals. It could also be possible that they combine with blow-by gases from combustion to form more toxic fumes.

Remember I already replaced synthetic oil with conventional and my headaches and nausea disappeared. After using the synthetic oil, engine developed leaks around oil pan, oil pump, rear main seal. I read that is it rather common problem. I have to repair and see if my symptoms disappear.

Please try to believe it. I am not the only one suffering. There are dozens of posts online with similar symptoms.


I did come here for ideas and I appreciate all your feedback. Thanks!


Maybe we are looking for the solution in the wrong place. Perhaps you are sensitive to the frequency of a particular sound. Perhaps a bearing in your car is now making a noise that it hadn’t made earlier as the bearing wore. Try these steps:

  1. Sit in the car with the engine off. If you don’t experience the headache or dizziness, it isn’t an outgassing problem or mold in the car. If you do have the problem, then it may be outgassing of the plastics in the car, moisture under the carpet, etc. If you don’t experience the symptoms, proceed to step 2.

  2. Turn the key on but don’t start the engine. Try various speeds of the blower. Does one speed of the blower cause the problem? If not, go to step 3.

  3. Start the engine. While sitting with the engine idling, do you experience the symptoms? If so, it is connected with the engine. It is either fumes or some noise the engine has developed. No symptoms? Go to step 4.

  4. Go for a ride. It may be a sound frequency that causes the problem. Put on different tires when the problem started? Maybe it is a particular tire noise. Perhaps an out of balance wheel causes a vibration to which you are sensitive. Perhaps there is an oscillation due to worn struts/shocks to which you are sensitive.

With all you have had done, it may not be your sense of smell that is detecting fumes, but a sound or vibration that is setting off your symptoms.

One last thought: Did you have a new windshield installed just before your symptoms started? If so, maybe there is distortion in the glass and the problem is visionary.

What I am suggesting is that maybe the problem isn’t fumes but something affecting one of your other senses.


Well, from what I can read we’ve suggested every possible source of toxic fumes and then some. Except perhaps a dead body in the trunk (just kidding, no offense intended :relaxed:).
Perhaps the only solution is to use your new car and give this one to a financially struggling family member. One that you never ride with. Some things just cannot be fixed.


@Triedaq Pretty interesting feedback. I will have to try it. I did some of it already but I need to be more methodical.

It’s an old car so it’s rather noisy from wind, engine, transmission, wheels, suspension and crappy roads. No windshield replacement.

Find it hard to believe sound could give me respiratory sickness. I will try it but don’t have my hopes high. What is the coincidence that both jetta and mdx cause me similar symptoms?



Just drove car. I guess it’s possible it might be an odorless exhaust leak. That would still explain the the symptom changes from synthetic to conventional oil since vapors would escape from combustion.

Going to replace cat and exhaust pipe gaskets to check.


Your problem could be the Fuel Charcoal Vapor Canister. Charcoal stops doing its job after a priod of time. Even if the canister is not clog, the charcoal granulates may not be absorbing the fumes anymore.