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MG MGF Technical - Burning smell

My V reg 1.8 has started having a constant smell of "burning?" from the engine after driving it, the smell lingers slightly even if I haven't used the car for a couple of days.

It doesn't seem to matter what sort of journey I've just done either(motorway or short trip). I've checked the oil and coolant and they seem fine, and the temp gauges don't appear to do any thing unusual, but I'm getting a tad worried that somethings not right.

It made the same kind of smell just after I first got the car when I got stuck in a queue for parking on a steep upward ramp but that seemed to disappear.

Any ideas much appreciated....

Oh yeah I had a K&N fitted in Nov during it's 1 year service, could this be related??


What kind of burning smell? Like plastic? Or Oil? Or...

I noticed on my VVC that some of the wadding underneath the engine cover plate has scorched, and melted a little - must have happened with previous owner as I've never noticed anything - presumably from hot pipe-work. Could it be that? I'm no expert mind...


I just had mine come back from a service and I had noticed a burning smell before it went in. Turns out it was a broken inlet manifold. Caught it just in time.

John highlights one of the most probable types of problem. A burning smell of whatever will only last for a short time whilst whatever is burning, smouldering or more likely being vapourised is consumed.

Continuous smell means simply that whatever is creating the smell, and the most likely is a very fine coolant weep onto a hot surface, is being continually resupplied.

A very fine spray of coolant will take a very long time to show up as a reduction of the expansion tank level, but will leave a tell tale residue on the surface on which it is being vapourised. This requires a detailed examination of the engine bay for these signs.

Of course there is also the very real possibility that you have picked up a plastic bag or similar onto the cat or hot exhaust. These run more than hot enough for the plastic to 'shrink wrap' itself around the exhaust and it will take quite some time for this to shrivel up and become brittle and break off. Again this is very easy to see once you get under the car.
In any event the advice has to be to seek identification of the problem as soon as possible to ensure that if there is a safety or mechanical problem it can be sorted withour leading to any other problems.

Roger Parker

A pair of kippers wired to the exhaust manifold give a nice continuous smell - a prank from my coach driving days was very good on the old Bedfords with the 'in-the-coach' engines.

Ted Newman

Ted, you remind me of one of my favourite going-away tricks at wedding using wedding cars sevenoakss: a smoke cartidge (a Theatre special-effect thing) wired across the fan terminals. Obviously doesn't go off until the engine heats up sufficiently...

Thanks guys,
it looks like a trip to the dealer is in order.



Might also be a leaking drive shaft seal.

Stefan Gibney

< A pair of kippers wired to the exhaust manifold.... >
< Might also be a leaking drive shaft seal.>

Putting kippers on the manifold is one thing. But surely installing a leaking seal is going too far.



I agree - get him some plastic panties and 'stay-dry' nappies.
Ted Newman

That should fix the smell for a while !

(apologies Sue, at least the first 3 postings are sensible. The thought of Kippers smouldering on a manifold set me off. )

Ed, are those smoke cartridges available for general use. Would they work in a vacuum cleaner? I could play a great joke on my wife. :)



Most good plumbers merchants will sell you smoke cartridges, they are used for testing drains etc.


To get back on subject as per Stefan(?) the drive shaft seals, specially on earlier *F*s can leak and the resulting spray onto the exhaust this can give a 'burning' smell - to check that it is/isn't drive shafts just have a look at the drive shaft (logical?) next to the gaiter and if they show signs of oil then that could be it - I am relating this from first hand knowledge and it is a simple job to replace them but if you DIY take your VIN when ordering the new parts as they changed after a year or two and the pieces are not interchangeable.

Ted Newman

This thread was discussed between 07/01/2001 and 15/01/2001

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