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For about 10k miles there was a bad smell from the engine compartment that was really only noticeable when opening the hood. Now that winter is here, the smell is nauseous in the car while idling/stopped with the heat running. The smell isn't present in the cockpit with the A/C running. After a short drive and shutting the car off, there are small amounts of whitish smoke coming from the driver's side exhaust manifold. It smells horrible, but I can't tell what it is (oil, coolant, exhaust, plastic, etc). While the car is running, it feels like there is the same amount of air coming out of each exhaust pipe. Coolant looks good and green and the levels aren't changing. The car isn't consuming any more oil than normal (I've had it for 92k miles and it's normally down a quart an oil change every time). I did have a fair amount of oil in a couple spark plug wells when I changed them a year ago. I'm thinking it could be a valve cover, but not sure? I've never changed the valve covers on this car and they could be stock with 180k miles. Any troubleshooting recommendations? Does this sound like a valve cover? It's not much smoke because I have to focus a light and really look to see it near the exhaust manifold with a light. It's a small amount of intermittent smoke, but occurs well after the car is off. My sense of smell isn't the best, but could burning oil make you nauseous (I thought it was just exhaust).
 

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Since none of us can get a whiff of what you're smelling, we'll have to take a guess here. "White smoke" isn't usually oil-based, and the odor could be from an organic source. The best thing to do would be to jack the car up, support it with jackstands, and remove the lower engine cover. Get a flashlight and a probe to get a good look at the underside of the DS header. You really can't see much from the top, but you should be able to peer in and around the mounting bolts/nuts to see if there's anything stuck in there. Burning is going to come from the nearest source of heat and the header would be my guess.


Let us know what you find...
 

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I got a second opinion and she said it smelled like plastic. *The smoke continues for minutes after the engine is shut off and comes in waves. *It looks to be coming from the exhaust, but I can't see anything plastic near it or on it.
 

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OK- gotta ask: rather than get opinions from others, why don't you jack up the car, and take a thorough look for yourself? Most automotive plastics are heat resistant enough that they won't smoke much. But things like grocery bags or other flammable plastics will burn against a hot exhaust pipe. Only way to check that is to look for yourself.
 
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