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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 09-28-2012, 11:11 AM
serge_ua's Avatar
serge_ua serge_ua is offline
Best Machine in the World
Location: Greater Boston
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 277
Mein Auto: 05 330i ZHP again
Burning rubber/plastic smell - SOLVED!

Floormats! Ok, if you are still reading, here is my story. This may seem as a dumb thread, but I really hope it might save a fellow 'fester a headache. I was scratching my head for a couple of weeks because sometimes driving was really uncomfortable due to intermittent smell which was something between exhaust, burning rubber/plastic, or fresh asphalt. I was about to give it up and bring my car to a mechanic (and post a cry-for-help thread here ), so i decided to play with all the climate control buttons to see what causes the smell. After a few trips with different combinations, I found that: the smell appeared only when the set temperature was above the outside one, i.e., AC was in heat mode; the smell was stronger the more temperature differential was; and finally, the smell appeared only when the air was being blown from the bottom (footwell) ducts. For the last one, I actually pressed the direction button (there are 3 buttons to the left of the AUTO button to direct the air flow) accidentally, because I never use it. So, low and behold, i pulled my floormats and smelled them: BINGO!
The story actually began with me buying rubber floormats at a big retail store in spring. They had a strong rubber smell in the beginning, so I left them outside for a couple of weeks. After that, the smell seemed to be gone. Apparently, however, the hot air from the ducts at the bottom of the car heated up the mats causing the smell. The problem was not there with the hot summer outside, and only when the temperature started dropping, it started.
Now, I am looking for new floormats (suggestions welcome!)

Thanks for reading!
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  #2  
Old 09-28-2012, 11:41 AM
Bimmer3Series Bimmer3Series is offline
Bimmer Lover Since '96
Location: Lewisburg, WV
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 90
Mein Auto: 1999 328ic & 2001 325xi
Glad you answered the burning question of Whas That Smell? I had a similar odd burning smell in my '92 318ic a couple of months ago & discovered that the power antenna motor had burnt up... still have that funky smell some if I open the trunk. I scrapped that & figured it was time to update the stereo & had a universal non-powered antenna put in along with the stereo updates. I've had this car for over 16 years now & it's still my daily driver. We've got our old '88 325 up for sale that I've had for over 15 years now but that's another story. LOL
We recently picked up an '01 325xi that was a clean car but the BMW floormats were grungy. I ordered the custom-lettered floormats from Bavarian Auto that has written "325xi" on them, black with grey ribbing all around the edges... love them. Anyway, these mats being new had a semi-strong smell to them when I pulled them out of the shipping carton but I haven't noticed them much in the car but of course I haven't had the heat on yet... knock on wood.
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  #3  
Old 09-29-2012, 05:31 PM
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G. P. Burdell G. P. Burdell is offline
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Location: Southeastern U.S.
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,781
Mein Auto: E46
Quote:
Originally Posted by serge_ua View Post
Now, I am looking for new floormats (suggestions welcome!)
The BMW rubber mats are good quality...and low-odor.
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  #4  
Old 10-01-2012, 11:08 AM
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serge_ua serge_ua is offline
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Location: Greater Boston
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Mein Auto: 05 330i ZHP again
Quote:
Originally Posted by G. P. Burdell View Post
The BMW rubber mats are good quality...and low-odor.
Thank you G.P.! That's what I will try next.
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