What's that smell?

I know I need a coolant temp sensor in my 2001 VW Passat. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. I know it’s working when I smell something through the vents like sulphur, almost sewer gas. Why does the car emit this odor as the sensor dial reaches its normal mark?

First why not replace the sensor. As I recall this is a five minute job and cost like $15.00 for the part. You will get that cost back quickly. The coolant temperature could be related to a cool running engine screwing up the converter. Now you are talking about a much more expensive repair and part because that cheap sensor was not replaced.

Do you have a CEL (Check Engine Light?)

Good Luck

You are likely smelling a dead animal that got trapped in your ventilation system. This is a common occurrence. Replacing the coolant temperature sensor will not cure this problem, but get it done anyway. Removing the carcass is a separate problem.

First, I’m going to replace the sensor ASAP, and regardless of how cheap you consider the part to be, the cheapest work I’ve had done on my VW is an oil change – the labor is always gonna run me around $100 total or more. But my question to you was less about the sensor and more about the smell, which you didn’t really address. Second, the check engine light is not on. Thanks for your help anyway.

I thought I replied to this already. Anyway, I certainly hope that’s not it and I’ll have my guy check out the ventilation system thoroughly when he replaces my sensor. I don’t smell this all the time, only when I see the temperature gauge working (which is sporadically). Thanks!

Though he should feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, I believe that Mr. Meehan’s comment about the converter was directed at the sulfur smell. A sulfur smell is one thing that can happen when a converter isn’t doing its job completely. (The sulfur is in fuel additives).

And you can harm a converter by allowing an engine to run too rich (too much fuel) - and one main cause of an engine running too rich is a bad coolant temp sensor.

So it all did fit - maybe just not explained as thoroughly as you might have liked.

Oh, OK, well, that makes sense to me (I didn’t really understand what he was trying to say), so thanks for spelling it all out for me and if Joseph Meehan is reading this, I apologize for giving you a low rating.