Toyota corolla getting my land lady sick in the head

corolla
#1

my land lady in McLean VA has a Corolla with only 20k miles, but she claims it has started putting out fumes that put her in bed for two weeks. It may have started when she killed the battery, had it jumped, and left the engine running in the drive for two hours - I’m thinking catalytic converter? The dealer chnaged out the cabin filter, and the duct work to the heater. Any thoughts? I think its a 2003.

#2

You might be right, may be some exhaust fumes getting in the cabin. Find a good mechanic (check here http://cartalk.com/content/mechx/find.html ), have them check out the exhaust system for leaks, etc.

#3

Some people are highly sensitive to ethylene glycol antifreeze. A small leak in the heater core could send these vapors/droplets into the cabin where she could be breathing them.

Running in the driveway for two hours could have stressed the coolant system since it was relying on the radiator fan only for cooling. If the core was marginal, this could have created pinhole/seam leaks.

#4

Ask your landlady if there is a sweet smell in the car, especially when she turns the A/C or heater fan ON. If she says, “YES”, get a little anti-freeze from the overflow bottle in her car, and ask her to smell that. If she says that that is the same smell, the heater core, or hose, may be leaking.

#5

I would recommend obtaining a carbon monoxide detector. These are available in the fire and safety equipment at Lowes, Home Depot, and probably even WalMart for $20-$30. This would be a good check to see if exhaust fumes are getting into the car. After checking the car, it is a good safety device for the house if one heats with fossil fuel.

#6

A worthy notion, but it’s hard to believe that a heater core would be leaking on a vehicle that has only 20,000 miles.

#7

if one heats with fossil fuel.

Or even not.

#8

Depending on when it was built, it could be 6.5 years old already. At only 20k miles, they may not have ever changed the AF. I know quite a few people with the misguided notion that lack of use means they can skip many routine maintenance chores. Then consider it was left idling in the driveway for two hours. Hard to believe? Not from my perspective…

#9

Even if it is about a 2003 0r 2004 model, the things mentioned could have happened. Also, if the car has been closed up a lot, especially right before she got sick, there could have been a build up of the gases which may have made her sick. Cars are built with materials, glues, etc, which give off gases a long time afterwards. Beware of that “new car smell”; it could be very bad for you.
Some people are more sensitive than others to the gases released from a car’s interior. Your landlady may be one.
Ask the fire department if they do CO checks in cars. Ask the local Health Department if they can help.