Saturn Aura XR

Dear Tom and Ray - or anyone who can help:

I have a 2008 Saturn Aura XR. Great car. I’ve noticed an intermittent faint odor that I thought smelled like coolant.

But the authorized repair dealership (Buick/Chevy) conducted a dye/pressure test and found no leaks in the cooling system or water pump.
Their guess is that there is a crack somewhere in the intake manifold gasket set, causing a fuel vapor odor.

They quoted a very expensive estimate to replace the gaskets (including new spark plugs and a fuel system cleaning). Before I do that, is there any way to definitively determine the source of this intermittent odor?

I’d be thankful for any wisdom out there.


We hope at this young age a heater core is not leaking, perhaps it is a clogged ac drain that can be blown out at minimal cost.

Are you loosing any coolant? Do you have the V-6 engine?

Barkydog and Keith,
Thanks for the response. It seems the pressure test would have ruled out a leak in the heater core. It’s a V-6, not losing coolant. The AC drain might be something to investigate. Thanks.

Any other ideas on the possibility of a crack(s) in the intake manifold gasket(s)?


You shouldn’t replace intake manifold gaskets on a “guess” and spark plugs and fuel system cleaner have nothing to do with it.
They just want to do those in case there was nothing wrong with the gasket, the plugs or cleaner might cure your symptoms and you wouldn’t know they had replaced your gasket for no reason.

The odor is intermittent. Is it possible that it comes when you are in a certain place, such as going through an intersection? Maybe if it occurs only during certain drive cycles, like say when you are going to work, there might be someone else taking the same route at about the same time and their vehicle is the source of the odor.

They could do a smoke test and see if there any leaks in the gaskets. They are blowing smoke on the fuel cleaning and spark plugs and trying to up your bill. You need a new mechanic.