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

Smelly car

I have a 2000 Nissan Frontier that stinks on the inside.I have taken it to the dealer time and again until they literaly threw me out. Others have also looked at it but could’t figure out the problem. It has a stick shift on the floor and at high speeds it will begin to smoke from the cup holder by the flexible rubber from the stick. I replace all the plastic parts thinking that it was just the fumes from under the car leaking through a hole at that point, but even after replacing all the parts to cover any gaps, it still stinks and like used gas (from the tail pipe). The truck still runs quite well, but I am afraid that we are being poisoned every time we drive it. Please help!!

Has the dealer or anyone else been able to duplicate the problem when they had the car or are they saying they don't think there is a problem?

The dealer has continuously denied any smell to the car, yet I have seen the smoke and so has my entire family. we checked for exhaust leaks, we checked for all kinds of leaks and nothing, but the smell and the smoke remain.

Is there a light for something there, like a power point or cup holder? I suspect that is the problem. Could something have dripped down there, like coffee or melting ice-cream?

How about a non-family member not a close friend. Ask them to describe the odor.

Sounds as if something is leaking on the exhaust and entering the car where the shifter comes in. That’s what I would check for first.

You might want to have the transmission oil level checked. You could get some caulking compound, such as tube and tile, and caulk the air leak around the shifter to keep the smoke out. you also may have a bit of oil leaking onto the exhaust manifold. gas leaks dont cause smoke, they cause fires. but a rich running fuel air mixture will cause some gas smell from the exhuast, and can also cause high heat from the catalytic converter, so you should have the mixture checked. faulty 02 sensors can cause this condition. a hot converter can cause things like the sound deadening in the floor to heat up considerably.

If the dealer has not taken the car out and driven it at high speeds, they have not re-created the conditions necessary to duplicate the problem. Did you buy this truck new from a (or this) Nissan dealer, or is this a used car and a used car dealer?
If this is a Nissan dealership, get in touch with Nissan if for no reason other than to complain about your service experience, and perhaps to get some advice aside from “consult your local Nissan dealer”. If this is a used car dealer, and especially if the car has recently been purchased as a used vehicle, the dealer may be hoping to dodge a costly repair before a warranty has expired. Many states mandate minimum warranty periods. If you have recently purchased this car used, and you have any sort of warranty, state mandated or via the dealer, write down the dates you visited the dealer and what was done to duplicate the problem, if known. You may want to sue them in small claims court.

Meanwhile, get a second opinion. Find a good local garage and ask them to test drive the car on the highway and get their opinion.
You describe a smell like emission from a tailpipe, suggesting an exhaust leak, but I suspect the clutch is slipping at high speeds. You would get a strong odor in the cabin, and smoke as well, if this is the case. You would also notice a somewhat higher tachometer reading than you might expect, and maybe a surging tachometer reading.
In the interim, don’t travel at high speed.

Thanks for all of the suggestions, unfortunately we have done most of what was recomended. I bought this car new and it was fine until about 4 years ago. I have taken it to the dealer. I even let the manager drive it home for a week and he did smell something but could never locate the source. Nissan refused to help us even after several calls to the corporate office. We wanted a refund for all the work we had done as they had suggested because the work they did to the truck didn’t amount to anything. We took it to two other mechanics, one who works on the city fire trucks and is very honest. he drove the car around and smelled it but could not locate the problem. I will take it in again to check the sensors as someone suggested we do and see if that might be the cause.