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Discussion Starter #1
180k miles. Oil seeping from camshaft cover gasket. The cover was replaced due to failed pressure valve about 20k ago. I have a new cover and pcv line and the V2 pcv fix kit. will install soon.

New problem popped up yesterday. After about 30 miles at highway speed, I will get smoke coming from engine compartment and into cabin and a bad smell I can't positively identify. Not burning oil from manifold and not coolant leak smell. I would describe it as a combination of electronic compenent burning smell and exhaust smell. Very strong odor. It comes in the cabin at stops. I parked the car, turned off the engine and opened the hood. No smoke for about 10 seconds, but then smoke starts rolling up from under the exhaust manifold shield. I know there is oil seeping right above it, but this is not a burning oil smell, nor is it a coolant smell. It is as I described above.

The car stutters a bit in the 2300-3000 rpm range when under load, but has been doing that for quite a while. I replaced the ignition coil bar about 5000 miles ago because #4 was misfiring, coil spring and contact was badly corroded. Idles fine. No CEL, but I haven't been able check for any hidden codes. I don't hear any strange noises from the engine area while driving or idling. Not sure what a bad turbo sounds like though.

any thoughts?

I worry that there is a failure waiting to happen in the turbo. Wouldn't I have CEL though?
 

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This may be either an oil cooler O-ring leak or a turbo oil feed line leak. Both are somewhat common with higher-mileage 1.4 engines. The turbo feed line is quite a bit easier to replace.

Pull off the shield and see what's going on.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Will do tonight. Street mechanic by flashlight. I'll need one of the kids to hold the umbrella. We are floating around here lately.
 

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This may be either an oil cooler O-ring leak or a turbo oil feed line leak. Both are somewhat common with higher-mileage 1.4 engines. The turbo feed line is quite a bit easier to replace.

Pull off the shield and see what's going on.
I removed the heat shield and ran it to the point of smoking again. Engine temp is normal. Oil supply line to turbo is dry at both ends and doesn't appear to be leaking along the line either. I do think there may be a coolant leak at either the large coolant hose below the turbo or possibly at the connection of the two coolant lines. The large radiator hose is wet just below the clamp. Something is leaking down onto the cat converter and lower and smoking off, smoke rising up around the exhaust manifold. The joint between the oil/coolant inlet block and the air inlet side of the turbo may be leaking, but I'm not sure. it is rusty around that joint.

See the stock turbo picture I have edited and attached. The red circle is where the wet radiator hose is attached. The curved yellow line is the rusty joint I mentioned.

I mentioned in original post that the cam cover gasket is seeping. This has changed dramatically. I wiped it off last night. after 60 miles this morning, it is quite wet with oil again and oil is even pooled up a bit on the cover ABOVE the seal. It looks to be leaking all around the cover, but I can definitely see the oil across the front above the exhaust. Last night I pulled the corrugated line connected to the intake manifold and looked in for the rubber nipple of the flap valve. It is gone. The pressure regulator in the cam cover appears to be ok. It is not open and hissing all the time. I can hear a momentary intake of air there when bringing the engine out of idle, but that is all.

It stands to reason that I really need to get the PCV system taken care of before I dive too deep into the smoke behind the turbo, but the timing and the odor of the smoke still has me thinking there is something more than just oil leaking down from the top seal and burning off. It doesn't smell like the typical oil burning off the exhaust smell. It also doesn't smell like the typical coolant smell I became all too familiar with on my first car in the 80's (late 70's ford LaTeeDa sedan).....don't judge. My coolant reservoir sits at normal fill levels and is a clear yellow/orange color and not the typical green. Does that yellow/orange smell different than the green when burning off?

I can park the car and open the hood and see nothing. Then after a few seconds, the smoke starts rolling up. Almost as if there is something under pressure that releases when the engine idles down and is shut off. Is there a pump system that runs at low idle or even after the engine is off around the turbo?

One more observation I made last night in case this matters in this situation. There is the mild "ticking" from the injectors I can identify by ear-on-screwdriver, but there is also a much louder and intermittent ticking coming from a vacuum valve/actuator attached above the intake manifold. I noticed it coming and going and positively identified it as the source of the noise. The air filter hose clamps at the turbo and the filter box were both loose but not disconnected at the time I noticed this ticking noise. I tightened the hose clamps and I think the noise went away.

283883
 

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One more observation I made last night in case this matters in this situation. There is the mild "ticking" from the injectors I can identify by ear-on-screwdriver, but there is also a much louder and intermittent ticking coming from a vacuum valve/actuator attached above the intake manifold.
This is the EVAP system purge valve; it is a very common failure. It's a $20 replacement part (which is probably why it's so failiure-prone).

It stands to reason that I really need to get the PCV system taken care of before I dive too deep into the smoke behind the turbo
Agreed. Get the check valve fix kit and a new valve cover gasket.


I can park the car and open the hood and see nothing. Then after a few seconds, the smoke starts rolling up. Almost as if there is something under pressure that releases when the engine idles down and is shut off. Is there a pump system that runs at low idle or even after the engine is off around the turbo
Nope, oil pump and coolant pump are engine-driven. Could be PCV-system related as the car transitions from boost (high idle) to vacuum and the check valve isn't there to vent pressure the other way (to intake manifold). The intake side of the turbo/intake system itself is used as a source of vacuum for the PCV system when the car is under boost.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks. I have the fix kit in hand as well as a new cover and new line from intake to turbo inlet. I'll get the PCV system all installed and modified this weekend. Will report back Monday morning after the drive to work.
 

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I can park the car and open the hood and see nothing. Then after a few seconds, the smoke starts rolling up.
Classic coolant leak. All the heat from the combustion chamber is still coming though the block, but the water pump and fans have been shut off. This is the point you can expect the coolant to have a temperature/pressure spike.

Running the car, parking it and looking is the method I've used in the past to find coolant leaks. That method has helped me find leaks that would have been impossible to find (even with UV dye) if I hadn't seen it in action. (An invisible crack on the radiator side tank was taking a wiz on the engine block. Don't worry, that wasn't my Cruze doing that.)
 

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Thanks ChevyGuy. Good info. I still haven't found it, but based on your input, I wonder if it is one of the coolant lines attached to the turbo. Still looking.
Spike1972 asked about the heat shield. I'm sure it should be on in general, but do any of you think it would be a problem to run the car up to temp a couple times without the heat shield attached, so I could get a quicker view into the trouble area?
 

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I finally have the fix kit installed. I traded some of my expertise, printer repair, for some shop space and use of his lift and tools. Installed the fix kit along with new cam cover and the corrugated pipe from the intake manifold to the turbo. After that, we pressurized the coolant system up to 20psi and could not even force a coolant leak. I took the car out and drove it long enough to get it up to its usual operating temp. Brought it back in and still can't come up with a coolant leak. Drove it to work this morning. 60 miles at 75 mph in 6th gear. RPM is just above 2K for the bulk of the drive. Parked the car and popped the hood. No oil leaks and no coolant smell. YAY!

Here's what I found and tested during the repair. The aftermarket cam cover had a small suck leak at idle at the diaphragm on top. I couldn't hear any hiss, but I could plug the slot with my finger and the engine speed would change slightly down. No Engine codes to report though. The cover gasket was rock hard and leaking oil pretty much all around. The flapper disk/valve in the intake manifold was gone. The check valve at the turbo end of the corrugated hose allowed flow in only one direction, (wipes oil off of mouth), but there did seem to be a little pressure loss when closed either from the valve or from the hose itself. (wipes more oil off mouth) Probably a small crack forming. Cleaned the oil that had leaked around the top of the head and also from the spark plug tubes. pulled the plugs and gapped to .025. They were fairly open, I could easily pass a .030 through. Checked all four resistors and springs for any corrosion at the coil pack. All good.

Genuine GM cover and gasket and corrugated hose replaced the failing ones. V2 Fix kit installed. Car immediately had a better feel at low rpm. I had no idea I had gotten used to such poor performance. The beginning of the power band feels stronger too, from 2000-3500 rpm. So Nice!! I did notice something on the drive this morning though. A slight feel of power loss around 65-70 mph in 6th gear. It was very subtle and happened about 15 miles into the drive. There was a feeling like a sudden increase of headwind and I felt like I had to give it a bit more gas pedal. Info center gas mileage seemed a bit lower than usual too. Typically the car shows just above 40 mpg. This morning it hung around 38. Thoughts?

Any theories on how all of this may have caused a coolant leak? Jblackburn commented on this but I don't understand the pcv system/turbo engines enough to wrap my head around how it could affect the cooling system.

I like the idea the the pcv fix also fixed my coolant leak but I am a bit uneasy still. I have a 6 hour each way highway drive coming up in a couple weeks and am a bit nervous. Can anyone help me understand this a bit better?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
After about a week of daily highway driving, I once again had the coolant leak appear. By the time I got the car stopped, the leak had stopped and there was no trace of it. Have driven another 300 miles since and the leak has not reappeared. Any guesses on why a leak would come and go like that? Theories? I hate to pull the turbo to go after lines that may or may not be leaking, but do I just need to bite the bullet and do it? I would plan to replace both turbo oil lines and both turbo cooling lines while doing this. Anything else in that area?
 

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Spike1972 asked about the heat shield. I'm sure it should be on in general, but do any of you think it would be a problem to run the car up to temp a couple times without the heat shield attached, so I could get a quicker view into the trouble area?
If it was my car, I would leave it off until I located the problem. However, if I knew I was going to be driving though rain, I might tack it back on so that area wouldn't get wet from the rainwater blowing though the radiator. At least, that's my guess as to it's purpose.

Not sure why your coolant problem is so on again/off again. They do tend to be picky about the temperature and pressure needed to make them appear, but this seems trickier than normal. You may just have to give it time. They always get worse.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the input. Havent seen it since saturday morning. I drive about 110-120 miles a day in two trips. Will keep looking.
 

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Since the pcv fix, the coolant problem seems to have gone completely away.

The exhaust smell in the cabin when at idle is getting worse though. I have to turn off the blower fan for the heater to keep exhaust smell from coming in to the cabin when at stops with engine idling. once driving, I can turn the fan back up. running in recirculate mode helps a bit, but not completely.

We have inspected pretty thoroughly all around the engine compartment and around the flex pipe after the CAT CONV. really cant find obvious evidence of an exhaust leak. cant hear it or see smoke anywhere. had the car on a lift and checked from under the car too. nothing!

I had a CEL (cant remember the exact code) late in December that pointed to the evap canister purge solenoid, It had been ticking loudly at times, so I replaced it. The exhaust smell in the cabin started a little before this code popped up. The new purge solenoid did not make a difference in the exhaust smell and at times, it ticks just as loudly as the previous one. I replaced it again just to be sure I just didn't get a faulty one. Still ticks very loudly at times. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the exhaust smell is worse when the solenoid is ticking loudly.

If that is the case, what could be causing the solenoid to make so much noise? There is no CEL and I'm not sure yet if there are codes. I am taking it to a shop tonight to put it on a good OBDII scanner. Not sure what to look for though.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks jblackburn. I have inspected the oil filter and cooler area. There is no oil leak there.

The smell is definitely not a burning oil smell. It is a rich exhaust smell. This is why i'm so focused on the evap canister purge valve. If I understand correctly, when that is not working right, it can dump raw fuel into the exhaust system. The exhaust out the tail smells pretty rich. Not egg smell. More like fuel. My mileage has dropped a good 10 mpg since this all started.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I have a light oil leak around each of the vvt solenoids, but that seeps down the front side of the engine. stays away from the manifold and doesn't burn off.

Speaking of the VVT solenoids, I'm debating replacing the entire solenoids or just the seals. Anyone with experience on this? Recommendations?
 

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Since the engine runs great and the tech said that there are no engine codes "it stays in a closed loop" and there is strong vacuum at the intake manifold.
I will replace just the VVT solenoid gaskets.
 
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