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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks,
I did a tune up changing out spark plugs, cleaning MAF and throttle body along with dropping transmission pan to do a filter change along with fluid. I also changed out transfer case and rear diff oil. I was getting a smell I thought was residual gear oil burning off in the cabin of the car. Kept checking fluid levels and added more oil into transfer case until it dripped out and sealed it back up. Fast forward a couple of weeks and on the highway today the smell went from a heavy burnt oil to the smell of a burning clutch or burning brakes. The car starts, runs, accelerates, and shifts fine. It is an automatic. I am afraid doing the tranny has led it to burn up and possible early failure. Any advice on what to check or have a mechanic check would be much appreciated. 2012 rav4 base 99k automatic 4WD.

Thanks,

Steve
 

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Hi folks,
I did a tune up changing out spark plugs, cleaning MAF and throttle body along with dropping transmission pan to do a filter change along with fluid. I also changed out transfer case and rear diff oil. I was getting a smell I thought was residual gear oil burning off in the cabin of the car. Kept checking fluid levels and added more oil into transfer case until it dripped out and sealed it back up. Fast forward a couple of weeks and on the highway today the smell went from a heavy burnt oil to the smell of a burning clutch or burning brakes. The car starts, runs, accelerates, and shifts fine. It is an automatic. I am afraid doing the tranny has led it to burn up and possible early failure. Any advice on what to check or have a mechanic check would be much appreciated. 2012 rav4 base 99k automatic 4WD.

Thanks,

Steve
Steve, check the easy stuff first - make sure your brakes haven’t seized up, including the parking brake shoes inside the rear discs. Was the smell coming from front or rear?

Also of course do a visual check for any fluid that may have leaked onto the exhaust or other hot parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the reply. No leaks. Brakes work and there is no smell At any of the wheels. The smell just seems to be coming up into the cabin from under the car. You can not smell it outside of the car. Earlier it never came through AC vents, but on the highway when it changed to smelling like a clutch or metal burning, it did. I will check the rear diff level tomorrow and see if it is low or smells. The tranny fluid smells fine. I call myself a mechanical moron, but will do simple things that just need to be unbolted, bolted, etc... I am regretting my decision right now and need to know what I did or did not do, or if it is something totally different.
 

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Check the brakes by touching (or using an infrared thermometer) the wheels (not the rotors) after a drive. The warmer one is usually the culprit. Check your oil sending unit located above the alternator (if you have the 4cyl), mine was leaking right onto the exhaust manifold, it smelled like burning tar inside the car and almost nothing outside.
 

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One more thing: unless you’re driving a 2012-2018 Ford Explorer, you shouldn’t be able to smell anything from the rear axle while on the highway, as the air circulation wouldn’t route air up front or even into the cabin.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
One more thing: unless you’re driving a 2012-2018 Ford Explorer, you shouldn’t be able to smell anything from the rear axle while on the highway, as the air circulation wouldn’t route air up front or even into the cabin.
[/QUOTE
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Air was on recirculate, so not sure if the fact I could smell it through vents as well means anything. I checked again under the hood and car, found no leaks anywhere. It is not burning oil. The oil burning smell was when the transfer case was low on oil. I wonder if there is something going on there where it is leaking the gear oil out and what is inside the transfer case is burning up. I was on the highway doing 75mph when that’s smell changed to burning clutch, burning brakes smell. Thanks for the thoughts! Keep them coming. I will update when I find the answer.
 
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