Smoke smell

I am looking at a used car. I have the following questionable symptoms:

1. smell underhood like burning, as if you spilled oil on a hot engine. No visible oil on engine.

2. car does not overheat, but check engine light is on.

3. smell of oil comes faintly into the car with air conditioning.

4. smell of oil did not go away with a trip long enough to burn spilled oil off engine.

Any guesses what is going on?

I think there are a couple of problems. First valve cover gaskets may be leaking and causing the smell. Second engine light, a non related issue due to bad gas cap, oxygen sensor, pcv valve, catalytic converter, fouled injector etc. etc. I think you can plan on quite a few repairs, a check by an independant mechanic should be stop one as you notice these issues but there are probably more to come. How about a make year mileage and price? it sounds like a money pit beater to me.

95 Toyota Avalon, 107k. I did not see any sign of oil leaks around the valve cover gasket. I looked pretty hard. They are asking $4.2k. It drove well, has no signs of rust; the engine ran fine except for the ck light and smell. There was no visible tailpipe emission. All the smell came around the front end.

Is it worth having a mechanic look at it? There are two similar cars in the area priced at $5.5k and $6k.

Anyone who’s trying to sell a car with the CEL on has already found out why the light is on and doesn’t want to spend the money to fix it.

You don’t want to spend the money, either. Walk away from this one.


Unless you have personally determined the reason for the illuminated CEL, and found that there is a cheap fix involved, do not even consider this car.