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I applaud you for your patience in dealing with this issue!
Thanks fastdriver. Sorry to hear that your experience was not a pleasant one. I feel that I am in a position to have some patience for various reasons. First, I am going to step back and take a look at this issue, not only as a consumer, but as an outsider. I want to give GM the opportunity to take care of their customers and show that they are doing something to help remedy the problem. I am trying to take an approach that is patient, but yet exhausting all the resources I have available with GM and my dealership and placing accountability where it should be. I am choosing to post my progress on this thread so everyone can see the approach I took and GMs response. I understand that others have been here before me without the best results. I am hoping that something will surface to benefit not only me, but everyone thorough this process. I am not looking for an immediate fix at this moment as I understand this issue is quite complex. But I am looking for progress, updates, and eventually a permanent fix. GM owes that to all of us. I know this thread has been a valuable tool in helping me work thorough this process. I do think someone realizes "GM, we have a problem" and they have returned to the drawing board.

So with that in mind I thought I would post some tips that are working for me to "survive" in my Cruze while I wait patiently:
1) I always have a window cracked when driving.
2) I monitor the DIC. When the temp reaches the 190s - 200s, I back the temp control to the 1:00 position.
3) The cabin appears to be more comfortable with fan switch in #3 position. If I go to fan switch 1 or 2 - :sick:
4) I never use defrost mode unless absolutely necessary.
5) I use the heat only when necessary (hard to do in Montana during the winter).
6) I noticed that keeping my cabin properly ventilated by rolling down two windows in the garage after driving helps to eliminate any buildup of vapors and the next morning the cabin is clear of strong odors.

Is this an inconvenience? Absolutely, but I am making it manageable at this time.

Fortunately, my wife has a 2012 Honda Odyssey which is our family vehicle. So, I choose not to transport my wife or son in the Cruze due to the nature of this problem.

After my last trip to the dealership to ensure the PI was completed correctly I took the Cruze on the road for a test drive. As the temp reached the 200s I cracked the window and "blasted the heat" - full temp control (3:00 position), fan on #4. I drove for several miles. In a short period of time I needed to purge the vehicle with fresh air.:sick:

Results:
1) Cabin reeked like antifreeze (strong smell) for an extended period of time. After parking in garage antifreeze smell in garage for several hours. (Somewhat common after driving - just appeared to be a much stronger smell then usual after this drive).
2) Appeared to have an antifreeze taste in my mouth and residue in my nostrils. This is not a common occurrence as I think it is because my commute to work is usually a short drive. It appears that I pushed the car a little harder then usual after the PI maintenance and appeared to encountered the smell at a much higher level leaving a bad taste and smell in mouth and nose. Did not last for an extended period of time, but enough to be irritating.
 

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Ya know, I have missed a lot of work already due to this car, this car is making my life a living ****. I would like someone, anyone to drive this car for 3 hours a day and be happy about it.
GM knows there is an issue with this car and should not continue selling them. I did not buy a car to spend time off work going to the dealer to figure out why it is defective and trying to get it fixed so I can stand to even drive it. Exactly how long should I continue doing this? It has been going on for three months, I never know what car I will be driving next, I never have a snow brush, or gloves to clean the rental car off when it snows because my snow brush is in my stinky car at the dealership getting diagnosed, or un-diagnosed or mis-diagnosed. This is ridiculous and a huge inconvenience in my life.
And oh yes, getting in touch with the CEO's secretary is very effective. The problem with companies not being successful in this country anymore is because the lack of customer service and a company backing up their product. And we wonder why unemployment is so high...
Good customer service goes a long way, and I am not getting that.
Thanks for your support, sounds just like what I get from General Motors.
 

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Thanks for your support, sounds just like what I get from General Motors.
OK Gina, no need to get upset with us. This is a free internet forum full of very helpful people. If you come here with a problem and get anything positive at all out of it you are ahead and it didn't cost you anything but your time. If you get nothing out of it it didn't cost you anything but your time. Even if we DID know what was wrong with your car and how to fix it, there's nothing we could do about it... you are still at the mercy of your local dealership and/or anyone you can get on the phone at GM.

This is also the internet - you need to know how to filter the information you receive to get out of it what you need. Growing a thicker skin is also a good idea as not everybody will immediately offer you a shoulder to cry on. Learn to ignore the stuff that doesn't help and focus on the stuff that does.

Having said that, we do not know the cause of this problem. Anyone on this forum who is experiencing the same issue you are is in the same boat you are. Some people have done some research and negotiated their way into having GM buy back the car. If your health and well being is at much at risk as you say it is, this should be something you are researching yourself. We are not Lemon Law lawyers.

You can be assured if there is any progress with this issue you will find out about it on this forum. This could be very helpful in dealing with your local dealer to have the issue fixed if it comes in the form of a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) or recall notice.

Please be patient and take this forum for what it is; a bunch of regular people, most of whom own a Cruze, some of whom have the same issue you do, and none of whom can (at this moment) help you out of your situation.

I wish you all the best and I hope you let us know if you make any progress in dealing with the issue. It is that type of contribution that is most valuable to others on forums like this.
 

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I have a question… perhaps this has been covered already, perhaps not.

When the coolant level is getting low is the dealership replacing the missing coolant with more 50/50 coolant/water mixture, or are they just topping it off with water? Is the coolant concentration being checked after several top ups?

Why I'm asking; hot pressurized coolant leaks, hot pressurized water evaporates.

A car that has had its cooling system topped up several times with a 50/50 mix should test one of two ways: Either the coolant/water ratio is still good (indicating a leak), or the ratio is skewed with too much coolant (indicating water vapour loss). Everything I'm reading so far suggests the latter, and the fact that GM has devised an interim "fix" involving a modification to the vapour vent on the overflow tank seems to confirm it.

So now my wheels start turning.

The cooling system is a closed circuit designed to operate at a certain temperature and pressure. Operating temperatures should result in operating pressures somewhere below the maximum set by the overflow tank cap pressure. If the pressure exceeds the cap set pressure the system vents, causing the coolant smell everyone is complaining about.

Something is causing the pressure in the system to increase beyond the designed operating pressure. That something is most likely coolant boiling. Localized coolant boiling causes vapour and pressure increases within the system, the vapour builds and must be vented.

This car has a turbocharger. This will be important after my next paragraph.

Cruzex pointed something out that I was not aware of, and that was the car's electronic thermostat being programmed to regulate coolant temperature above 220F in certain circumstances (I knew the Cruze ran hotter than some, but I didn't know it was that hot). The hotter the coolant is the closer it is to its boiling point, so the less cooling ability it has (ability to absorb heat from hotter engine parts) before it boils.

Back to the turbocharger. It is an exhaust driven air pump that is cooled by both oil and coolant, exhaust driven being the key word here. The coolant going to the turbocharger and oil cooler comes from the top forward facing port of the coolant outlet on the driver's side of the cylinder head. This is the smaller of the two ports, the larger one on the bottom feeds hot coolant to the radiator (the rear port feeds hot coolant to the heater core and the tube coming vertically off the top allows vapour to travel directly to the top of the overflow).

The coolant going to the turbo has already passed through the engine and is hot. The turbocharger is being heated by exhaust gasses and is cooled by the already hot coolant going to it (as well as the engine oil being supplied to its bearings). This, as far as I know, is similar to the plumbing on most turbocharged vehicles. BUT, the Cruze operates at higher coolant temperatures than most engines I know of. At highway speeds the turbocharger is getting a lot of heat from the exhaust

If the flow of coolant through the turbo is not sufficient it is possible that the coolant is vaporizing when it gets into the hot turbocharger. This would cause vapour through localized boiling of the coolant, and would increase coolant system pressure to the point of venting vapours from the overflow tank.

If this is in fact the problem, the only way to solve it would be:

1. Increase coolant flow through the turbo
2. Increase oil flow through the turbo
3. Decrease the operating temperature of the engine coolant.

1 and 2 seem doable, but I'm not sure what it would take, maybe a plumbing change is all? If there is any kind of restrictor in the coolant line to limit the feed of coolant this could be easily changed. There is a TSB regarding restricted or reduced oil flow to the turbocharger, so this could have something to do with it (339359 and 339360 read the same):

Service Bulletin 339360 for Chevrolet ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING | AutoMD

I would suggest a good starting point for anyone with this issue contact their dealer and ask if one of these two TSBs applies to their car. If it doesn't I might push harder and ask that they check it out anyway… reduced oil flow to the turbo could cause the turbo to run hot, boiling coolant or causing damage to the turbo's bearings.

3 would have implications with mileage, so I doubt that would be an option as it would require TONS of re-certification even if the numbers ended up coming out the same. Also, a reduction in coolant temperature would have to be pretty drastic to cure a problem like this… I doubt dropping the coolant temperature 5-10 degrees would eliminate this kind of issue.

I'm not sure what's going on inside this little powerplant, but the signs lead to coolant boiling somewhere and my finger would point first to the turbo.
 

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It sounds like Blue Angel may have hit it right on the head with this one, it would explain the loss of coolant in most of the cars with no noticeable leak elsewhere. I'm not sure if my coolant is going down since I only have 3k miles on it. So far I've had the heater core replace and I have the vent hose installed, not sure if the hose has done anything yet since I haven't driven it.

I do notice when I come home late at night, there is a hot smell coming from the car, like something is buring but not like the burning plastic smell I was getting before. Then I also hear some gurgling like something is draining, maybe its the coolant going backing into the surge tank? If the vent hose doesn't get rid of the smell, this car will be going bye bye.
 

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Blue Angle, excellent analysis. Given the service bulletins you reference, it appears as though GM has observed this issue and maybe devised a fix that will impact our coolant issue. I am scheduled to bring my car to the dealer on Monday and I plan to discuss this with the service manager. Thanks for your very helpful post.
 

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Blue Angle, excellent analysis. Given the service bulletins you reference, it appears as though GM has observed this issue and maybe devised a fix that will impact our coolant issue. I am scheduled to bring my car to the dealer on Monday and I plan to discuss this with the service manager. Thanks for your very helpful post.
There's actually a software update that is supposed to cool off the turbocharger with the engine fan once the engine is shut off.

The coolant smell in my car always seemed MOST prevalent after the car had been sitting around in a parking lot and coming back to it. I'm wondering if that would help people with a similar issue.

This software package also has other benefits to it (like improved acceleration smoothness when the engine is cold). I should be having it done to my car soon, and I will fill the tank back to the proper level and see if it makes any difference whatsoever.
 

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See the issue with certain TSB's are unless they state your year of the car, they don't want to do it. I told my service manager about PI 0740 and he stated " that's only for the 2012 Cruze". They then waited a week with my car in the shop to confirm from a GM engineer who gave the go ahead to do the same PI I told them to do anyways.... How is one to determine if they need the
Service Bulletin 339360 for Chevrolet ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING | AutoMD?
 

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Why is it everyone gets butt hurt when they spew their issues on an open forum and don't get everyone kissing their a**? I know why. They are human. The same rule applies when I hear people whine about stuff but only do the minimal amount of work to improve their situation. The second amendment gives us both the right to say how we feel, of course, without resorting to name calling and such.
I don't have to be diplomatic about it. You don't like your situation, do something about it. You don't like what I have to say to you, don't post on an open forum on the internet. Same goes for Steve. I have the right to point out what I see to be the obvious and ridiculous.
Why the attitude? I asked if you had been to see medical professionals to help prove your case!!! Not help GM. But instead you get butt hurt over it. This kind of reaction makes me think you want out of the car because you can't afford it or don't like it and are using this as an excuse. Lord knows I have seen people try this over the years while I was a tech. Truthfully, if you are, it doesn't hurt my feelings. However, it seems to hurt yours.
 

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I like BlueAngel's logic and I agree that these engines are very often operating at elevated temperatures which causes the things he was describing. Why? I still believe the crux of the problem is that the ECM and its software can't manage the temperature properly. I believe that this design was targeting maximizing gas mileage and lowering emissions. The side effect is that the motor just gets too hot at times. It depends on the driving environment and the engineers weren't able to predict (or test) all possible combinations of inputs. If that is true, they may take a very, very long time to come up with a fix for this design.
 

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There's actually a software update that is supposed to cool off the turbocharger with the engine fan once the engine is shut off... ...This software package also has other benefits to it (like improved acceleration smoothness when the engine is cold). I should be having it done to my car soon, and I will fill the tank back to the proper level and see if it makes any difference whatsoever.
Please let us know more about this update! If you can get a TSB # from your dealer and any kind of indication which years/builds of cars are affected that would be GREAT!
 

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I still believe the crux of the problem is that the ECM and its software can't manage the temperature properly. I believe that this design was targeting maximizing gas mileage and lowering emissions. The side effect is that the motor just gets too hot at times. It depends on the driving environment and the engineers weren't able to predict (or test) all possible combinations of inputs. If that is true, they may take a very, very long time to come up with a fix for this design.
Well, it would seem so far that most of the people experiencing this issue are simply driving down the highway with the heat on... I would have thought that scenrio was well covered in their development! :)
 

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Well, everything I posted regarding the cause of the problem was based on gut feelings and poor on-line parts assembly drawings, so I went out and took a little deeper look. I pulled the heat shield off the manifold/turbo to get a better feeling for what's going on down there.

The hot coolant outlet on the driver's side of the cylinder head has several ports on it, as can be seen in this picture:
Auto part Engine Fuel line Vehicle Car

The hose going straight up is the vent tube alowing vapours back to the overflow, the forward facing port below that is the coolant feed for the oil cooler and turbo (the one I'm interested in), and the large hose below that is the hot coolant supply to the rad.

Looking a little lower:
Auto part Engine Vehicle Automotive engine part Fuel line

Here you can see the coolant feed line divide; the thick steel line goes down and back to the oil cooler, and a smaller line tees off of that. It's a rubber hose with expanded aluminum heat shielding pulled over it, and right where the shielding ends it changes from a rubber hose to a steel line. This is the coolant line to the turbo. If you look just below the turbo's coolant line you will see a small diameter steel line coming out of the oil filter/cooler assembly; this is the oil feed line to the turbo. Both lines pass underneath the manifold and bend forward to feed the turbo. The oil feed attaches to the top of the turbo center section, it's the large round silver bolt. Just visible down behind the turbo's center section is the coolant feed, it's the silver hex-looking thing just to the left of the oil feed.

Another view:
Auto part Engine Fuel line Vehicle Automotive engine part

The rust-colored metal piece between the manifold and compressor housing is the center section of the turbo where the bearings are, and where the oil and coolant feed for cooling. Seeing how close everything is packaged with the exhaust drives home how important cooling is in these components. The turbo has oil film bearings that would get cooked if it weren't for the coolant feed.

So after looking at all this, the oil and coolant lines are both steel and are both not shielded from the radiant heat of the exhaust manifold which they pass relatively close to. In the case of the oil line, it is my understanding that many turbos use a restrictor to limit oil flow, so the flow of oil to the turbo could be happening at a fairly slow rate which would mean the oil spending more time in the steel line and potentially heating up before getting to the turbo.

The same can be said for the coolant line, but I imagine the flow rate of coolant through the line would keep heat absorbtion from the manifold relatively low (but I have no way of knowing what the flow rate actually is).

One thing I can tell you for sure is that when the engine gets to it's targeted operating temperature the coolant flow rate through the turbo will be reduced. This is because flow through the turbo is dependant on the pressure difference between the suction side of the water pump and the hot side coolant outlet. When the thermostat opens the suction side of the pump can feed from the radiator, and the high pressure coolant in the outlet is allowed to flow through the upper rad hose to the radiator (and the radiator is a large low-restriction flow path). This reduces the pressure difference across the turbo's coolant circuit, reducing the amount of flow through both the turbo and the oil cooler.

All of this so far seems to feed my theory of coolant boiling in the turbo, and would explain why the coolant vapour smell only happens after driving the car for an extended period - long enough to get the engine to its operating temperature and get the thermostat open.

Having said all that, please remember that this is JUST A THEORY. In no way have I proven anything here, all I'm doing is trying to figure this out. Also, I'm fairly certain that most turbocharged cars are plumbed in a similar fashion, though every engine will have its own characteristics. If I am onto something it may explain why it is taking a while for GM to come up with a fix.

Another thing that went through my mind was the actual issue of the smell in the car and how it gets there. I've read several reports of people having their heater core replaced and the problem remaining. I remember reading somewhere that there was an admission by GM that "porous" materials in some heater cores were being blamed even though there was no leaking coolant evident. Air can pass though materials that liquids can't simply because it is made up of smaller molecules. If there is vapour circulating in the cooling system, it is possible that the vapour could escape through a porous material without any coolant leaking through. Just a thought... and if this is indeed part of the problem it adds a whole other dimension to the issue and makes solving the problem that much more complicated for GM: they will be tracking two different problems with similar symptoms.

I don't know if this information will actually end up being useful or not, but it would seem that adding a small radiator or even an auxilliary pump (or both) to the turbo's coolant line could help to cure this, IF COOLANT BOILING IN THE TURBO IS THE ISSUE IN THE FIRST PLACE. Remember, I'm just posting information that may or may not have anything to do with this problem.
 

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Information available on the NHTSA, Action #10050279 for 2011 -2012 Cruzes. I have a call into my service manager to discuss this service bulletin and if it affects my 2012 Cruze.

PI - 0851

CHEVROLET: THE OIL FEED PIPE NEEDS CHECKING AND REPLACED. IF RESTRICTED, AND TURBOCHARGER ASSEMBLY SHOULD BE REMOVED AND REPLACED, AND THE ECM SHOULD BE VERIFIED FOR LATEST CALIBRATION TO ALLOW TURBOCHARGE TO COOL, TO REDUCE LIKELIHOOD OF OIL COKING OIL FEED PIPE. MODELS 2011-2012 CRUZE, SONIC.
 

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It would appear that my '12 Eco (built in May '12) is not immune to this issue. While I was poking around under the hood I noticed my coolant is actually quite low, and there is lots of evidence of coolant vapour escaping through the vent on the overflow tank.

Note the crusty orange-ish deposits around the vent:
Auto part Automotive exterior Bumper


And the low coolant level (fill arrow is on the corner of the tank):
Auto part Engine Vehicle


This means I now have a direct interest in this issue! And here I thought I was just curious for the sake of others! :)

My daily commute is EXTREMELY easy on the car, so easy in fact that when it is as cold as it has been for the last month or so I doubt I'm even getting the engine to the operating temperature where the thermostat opens. HOWEVER, I was on the highway about two weeks ago with the cruise control set at 100 km/h (62 MPH) for about an hour each way, and I remember smelling something and thinking it smelled like burning plastic, but it was a very faint smell. Until I read all the reports of the same type of smell (in addition to the coolant smell) I never thought anything of it after checking under the hood to make sure nothing was actually burning of course.

For the record, I have yet to smell any coolant. At home I park outside, and at work I'm in a large-ish underground parking garage, so I wouldn't have a chance to smell any coolant vapours built up around the car. I have not smelled coolant in the car either. It will be interesting if this issue still looms in a few months when the weather warms up here... will I be choking on coolant fumes also? Am I a lucky customer with a good (non-porous) heater core? Did I just jinx myself?

I'm really curious as to two seemingly common symptoms regarding this issue:

1. Cars seem unaffected until some time/mileage passes.
2. Burning plastic smell... what the heck is it? (maybe a rubber coolant line cooking and becoming restrictive? WILD guess!)

I'm going WAY out on a limb here so take this with a grain (or bag) of salt, but it almost seems like some plastic/rubber component goes through a heat related change (burning smell) after which the coolant vapour issues start. Does anyone with the problem have a different story than that? So far from what I've read it seems to be a fairly consistent chain of events. The plot thickens...
 

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CHEVROLET: THE OIL FEED PIPE NEEDS CHECKING AND REPLACED. IF RESTRICTED, AND TURBOCHARGER ASSEMBLY SHOULD BE REMOVED AND REPLACED, AND THE ECM SHOULD BE VERIFIED FOR LATEST CALIBRATION TO ALLOW TURBOCHARGE TO COOL, TO REDUCE LIKELIHOOD OF OIL COKING OIL FEED PIPE. MODELS 2011-2012 CRUZE, SONIC.
Finally the whole text! Thanks!

Well, oil coking has been a problem with turbos since the beginning of time (turbo time, anyway). I seriously wonder if the two issues are related? I also wonder if replacing the turbo is necessary for the obvious reason (coked bearings and feed lines), as well as maybe changes to the coolant plumbing??? Hmm...
 
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