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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 01-03-2013, 10:12 AM
2k528i 2k528i is offline
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Burnt paper smell from vent as car warms up

Yesterday I had a burnt paper smell come into the car as it was warming up... I opened the hood and the smell is not noticable around the engine compartment. It is definitely coming from the vents.

As I drove it went away but then came back.. could a piece of paper have gotten against the heater core or something else?

Seems odd that it just started doing this, just driving back and forth to work so the car hasn't been any place unusual.

Any ideas?
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Last edited by 2k528i; 01-03-2013 at 10:14 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-03-2013, 10:20 AM
OntheRock OntheRock is offline
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Assume you checked in and around the cabin air filters? There are a bunch of good instructions for changing these (very easy to do).
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  #3  
Old 01-03-2013, 10:23 AM
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flyboyy flyboyy is offline
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are you sure its not.. burning oil smell ? its possible that oil leaking from your VCG that is getting onto the exhaust pipes and causing the burning oil smell to get into your cabin..

I had similar issue and I changed out my VCG and no more oil burning smell coming into my cabin.
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  #4  
Old 01-03-2013, 10:42 AM
2k528i 2k528i is offline
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cabin filters

I did check the cabin filters, nothing there.. and it doesn't smell like oil, and there is no sign of smoke.

Just the odor of burnt paper.
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  #5  
Old 01-03-2013, 01:17 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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I have the odor of burnt 'something'. Very hard to pin down the smell. I wouldn't say it's paper, but, it's a sickly sweet burnt smell like nothing easily described.

I'd post a picture or video of it if I could - but - I'm assuming the only thing it 'can' be is burnt fluid.

The question is what fluid:
- oil from the vcg
- power steering fluid

To the OP: Look at the passenger side of your engine, near the front, just above the SAP valve and below the valve covers. Do you have oily gunk there?
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #6  
Old 01-04-2013, 10:38 AM
2k528i 2k528i is offline
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nothing

Drove the car into work today and didn't smell anything so maybe whatever it was is gone... I have no idea.

Thanks for the suggestions everyone, if it comes back I'll update this post.

FYI, I did a search on this subject and found nothing.
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Last edited by 2k528i; 01-04-2013 at 10:40 AM.
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  #7  
Old 01-04-2013, 01:39 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2k528i View Post
I did a search on this subject and found nothing.
I just ran an E39-only title-only search for "smell", and it came up with these:
This went on for four pages. I didn't read them, but, it's a pretty common issue.
Note: I didn't even start to search for "stink".
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  #8  
Old 01-05-2013, 12:11 AM
Jksearners Jksearners is offline
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Hi I started to notice a slight burning smell in my 2002 E39 when warming up and a couple of weeks later my blowers have stopped, took to garage and quoted silly money to repair. They told me its a common fault so I decided to research it and it does seem fairly common fault, I'm now in process of tackling the fault myself, although I'm not a mechanic, the never ending list of videos on YouTube should help keep me safe. good luck with yours
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  #9  
Old 01-21-2013, 10:50 AM
LinkA8A0A LinkA8A0A is offline
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I have the exact same issue...when car is warming up I smell something burning through vents and under hood when outside of car. I can't tell what it is, though.
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  #10  
Old 01-21-2013, 03:24 PM
gomolka30 gomolka30 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I have the odor of burnt 'something'. Very hard to pin down the smell. I wouldn't say it's paper, but, it's a sickly sweet burnt smell like nothing easily described.
Sweet smell is almost always coolant. The best way I can describe its smell would be similar to maple syrup. If you don't see any leaks/steam in your engine compartment, then almost certainly you have a leaky heater core, or connections between your heater core and hoses.

I'm having a little bit of this myself. It only started happening after I slightly overfilled my coolant reservoir past "kalt".

Also if you notice that your windshield is fogging up more than normal, this is a tell-tale sign of a leak around the heater core.
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  #11  
Old 01-22-2013, 05:03 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gomolka30 View Post
Sweet smell is almost always coolant
Understood. It's a warm sickly sweet smell when coolant is splashing about the engine compartment.

The smell I have is sort of like plastic burning mixed with oil. ... (I'd post a picture of the smell if I could)....
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  #12  
Old 01-22-2013, 10:13 AM
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matt540 matt540 is online now
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Mine also smells like an oily coolant mix smell, and i have to top the coolant off every once and a while. I've done a coolant system over haul, except for the water pump, but why would i replace something that hasn't broke yet? I've also replaced my vcg, vanos seals, and am currently procrastinating about the vally pan gaskets. its just too cold to wanna get into that.
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  #13  
Old 01-22-2013, 10:34 AM
mr magoo mr magoo is offline
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Mice?

I found a mouse nest under the intake manifold when I was doing my VCG.

Last edited by mr magoo; 01-22-2013 at 01:28 PM.
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  #14  
Old 01-22-2013, 10:39 AM
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Coochie_Bandit Coochie_Bandit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr magoo View Post
I found a mouse nest under the intake manifold whan I was doing my VCG.
Lol. Wow. I cant imagine what you were thinking.

I Know I'd have a major WTF moment.
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  #15  
Old 01-22-2013, 10:49 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr magoo View Post
I found a mouse nest under the intake manifold whan I was doing my VCG.
Funny you should mention that because I suspected one chewed my insulation here:
- One user's pictorial DIY for replacing the BMW M54 engine spark plugs (1)

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