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My 2013 Cruze had a coolant odor issue, and occasional burning plastic odor also. It was serviced 3 times with no resolution. Today it apprears that a final resolution has been made. Through the hard work of my local dealer's service team and the GM national service rep a remedy seems to now be complete. The burning plastic smell is likely due to the fact that 200+ degree coolant liquid was running through lines and the heater core too close to the plastic components of the housing. The heater core box in my car was lined with insulating tape with a metallic backing which took care of the burning plastic smell. In the course of that repair the techs detected an extreme amount of lubricant on the inner dash box where the vent doors and controls are located. The tech removed some of it and heated it up and it smelled just like dexcool. This grease is glycol based hence the similarity to coolant when heated. The continuous heating and cooling of the grease resulted in a breakdown of it and the smell only got worse.
The techs removed all of the excess grease and replaced with another lubricant which was a type of brake lube good to 400f. They then added a peppermint extract to the coolant fluid to ensure that if there was a coolant leak of any kind the odor would be immediately discernable from any other automotive odor. I ran the heat and defrost heavy with no issues to report. This fix is not easy as the entire dash needs to be removed, but a good tech can do it and resolve this issue. If you need any further assistance or information please let me know. I would encourage anyone experiencing this problem to contact the dealer and have them contact GM to get your vehicle fixed.
 

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commutertg, thank you for sharing this. It sounds like a good amount of work was involved into getting it fixed.

Glycol based lubricant... that could be it. It could explain why a number of people are having coolant smell but no coolant loss. I had both, so this might be a fix for half of the problem, while the other half would be somewhere inside the engine compartment (water pump, hoses, thermostat, etc).

Is that lubricant used on the vent flaps? On my 2013 I can hear those flaps move when changing vents, as if the flaps are touching the sidewalls of the vent ducts because of friction. My 2011 had no such problem, those flaps were not making a sound.
 

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I'm not sure this remedy will help many people, since most of us know we are losing coolant. Plus people have done their own test and proven that they are having issues with vapors escaping from the coolant surge tank.
 

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Update from my dealer is same story. They have been working with GM engineering and they are aware. Parts are should be in on Monday for my car. They have repaired one other vehicle and so far, so good on resolution. Will post update when I get vehicle back.
 

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i have a 2012 bought in may i didnt have the coolant smell until 8000 or so . my car had the tsb done today looks llike a new vent hose and a black patch over the overflow tank . anyhow just got out of the car after 150 miles trip and the coolant smell is so bad i kept having to open the windows for fresh air ,not to mention the headaches too . i just want this issue fixed as ial loosing faith in GM really fast ..........
 

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This one could also be of interest to the people who had the rubber hose PI performed correctly and still have the coolant smell. Sounds like people are dealing with several issues here. It's great that you could find a dealer whose technicians were willing to apply some problem-solving techniques instead of just grunting and saying "well, there's nothing in the book about this, I don't know what to do."
 

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Wow, this would explain a lot- explains why the smell but no leaks and why the smell may not show up until thousands of miles are on the car. Lets hope this is it.
 

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So this is a new development from GM getting word to dealers?

WOW...that was fast.

As a note: I think this solves part of the problem regarding people still smelling something in their car even after having the PI performed. The smell may be a combination of antifreeze and the aforementioned grease.
 

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So this is a new development from GM getting word to dealers?

WOW...that was fast.

As a note: I think this solves part of the problem regarding people still smelling something in their car even after having the PI performed. The smell may be a combination of antifreeze and the aforementioned grease.
I agree it may help those who had the smell inside the car! But some of us only smelled it outside and as mentioned above does not explain the loss of antifreeze!
 

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This is great as long as the issue does not return.
Are there any photos of the fix at the overflow tank?
Thanks,
MrBlue
 

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Discussion Starter #13
My car also had an odor outside occasionally, but since that lubricant was used throughout the venting and cowling system it could be smelled outside the cabin as well. This odor in the cabin was so strong I could barely stand it at times, and now it is completely gone. Time will tell for sure, and the addition of the peppermint extract to the coolant will clue you in on what the source of the odor is. With regards to the coolant loss, that could be any number of causes including the fact that when these cars are running at 210 or 220f there is some overflow out the vent tube. I believe GM is working on a fix of sorts to the temperature sensor calibration and or location that we may see soon.
Though I wasn't happy about a problem with my new car, I do compliment the dealer with working hard to resolve it.
 

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Who'se your dealership? They deserve to be singled out for excellent work.

As other posters have already stated this would really explain the coolant and hot plastic smells people have, especially when they aren't experiencing coolant loss.
 

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That's a dealer that went above3 and beyond to find out what the problem is. To remove the entire dash is pretty amazing. Looks like you've got a good one!
 

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Yes, do name the dealership. They surely went the extra mile to try to fix this issue. I wonder why all of the others that had their heater core replaced didn't have the lubricant caught by the service techs doing the work? No, I really don't wonder why at all.
 

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What city/state is the dealer in that figured this out? I'm hoping he's in southern Minnesota, because when I take mine in for the resolution, I want someone that has done it a few times. I may wait a couple of months to make sure there's a tsb that has been performed a few times.
 

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This is great news and I hope news of this fix is able to be spread throughout the GM network as quickly as possible.

The sinic in me, however, understands that GM Engineering will need to witness, test and validate this fix before distributing it continent wide as a solution for the problem. It may seem like a simple fix, but without testing it cannot be known if other probelms may or may not be caused by it.

Fingers crossed here that it works and that they are able to implement it quickly!

Now if we could get to the bottom of the coolant loss/venting issue under the hood...
 

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Knowing the other issues Lordstown has worked through, I'm not shocked to hear some cars have excessive amounts of a grease that smells just like Dex-Cool when heated up.

If this is verified by others, it just might break the issue up into two separate issues. One would be a coolant loss issue/smell outside the car, the other would be a coolant smell inside the car without coolant loss. If verified, very interesting!
 
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