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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I've noticed lately a burning sort of smell coming from under the hood of my RAV4, on the passenger side, up near the windshield.

What's odd is that I changed the oil about 3 weeks ago, and the battery the week before that, and it started making this smell shortly after the oil change. The RAV is currently only driven once or twice a week (about 5 trips out since the oil change), but it has started having this smell more often than it did the first few times I drove it after the oil change. At first it would only happen at the last grocery stop and at home in the garage after going out (2 hours, about 5 stops); and, it was only noticeable outside the vehicle. But now it's smelling enough that I notice it inside (it seems to be coming through the circular air vent on the passengers side?), and during the drive (mainly while stopped at a red light, so when at slow speeds or idling), not just towards the end of the drive. But it isn't predictable enough to know exactly when it'll happen.

Unfortunately I can't identify the smell, if it's brakes, oil, transmission fluid, etc...

When changing the oil, I let it all drain for 2 hours, replaced it with 6 quarts (full box of Mobil 5-30 synthetic, as usual), and I did use a funnel to pour in the oil (so didn't spill any).

It has just over 26,000 miles now.

Thanks in advance for any ideas on what may be causing this.

-Kauri
 

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When you smell the burning smell after a drive, are you popping the hood and seeing if you can see something under there? Unless it's spilled oil, I'm not sure what it could be other than a stuck brake caliper.
It shouldn't take 6 quarts to fill your rav with oil. Did you check your dipstick for a proper level?
 

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Year and engine please.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Oops, sorry Dr. Dyno, it's a 2012 V6.

Thanks for the info!

Yes, when I smell it at a stop or at home I immediately look under the hood. I haven't seen any signs of oil spillage/leakage, either under the hood or on the floor of the garage, and the smell seems to dissipate quickly after lifting the hood.

I checked the oil dipstick after the oil change and it was halfway between the dots, though I will check again and report back. I thought 6 quarts was the proper amount to use? 6 quarts came out of it when I poured the oil out of the drain-pan and back into the bottles for recycling (it was previously changed by a mechanic my parents know).

Good point about the brake calipers, though the smell seems to be strongest up by the hood and nonexistent below the top of the tire. And upon checking after a drive both front disks seem to be equally hot-to-the-touch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I checked the oil again and the level is 2/3 of the way from the bottom dot to the top dot. So that doesn't seem to be indicating it's overfilled.

Wild guess, could there be anything up with that front right shock? Just because it seems like the smell could come up from there to under the hood, and that'd also explain why I can smell it between the top of the wheel well and the top of the tire but no lower.
 

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No clue about the smell but six quarts is absolutely correct for the V-6 with a filter change.
Why not check the cabin air filter to see if it has anything weird in it like liquid or mouse nest......anything out of the ordinary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, RTexasF!

I pulled out the glove box and checked the cabin air filter (clean, I'd just changed it in June) and also checked the area behind the glove box as well (also clean, no different from when I'd changed the filter).
 

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When you removed the drain bolt for the oil change, did you let the oil spill on the exhaust or other car components that could become hot?
Is your filter tight?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks everyone for the ideas!

Yes, the filter is tight, it was done with a torque wrench and double-checked after the next trip out.

I looked all under the RAV when I got home after I first smelled this, and I didn't see anything stuck under there, or any (obvious) oil near the drain plug or filter.

When the oil was draining it went directly into the catch-pan. When it was dripping out maybe some of it could have rolled down before dripping off? (I didn't watch it for the whole 2 hours I let it drain.) I'll look at it again tonight. When I put the filter assembly back on I did have oil on my hands, so there is oil on the outside of that, and I think I got some oil on the plastic "skid plate" too. I'm pretty sure I didn't let any get on the exhaust.

It seems like if the smell were caused by spilled oil then the smell would become less frequent as the oil burns off, rather than more frequent as has been occurring (?).

I'd feel like an idiot if that's all it is, but I'd sure like there not to be a major problem. Thanks!
 

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Sorry Kauri... I assume everyone has a "4 cylinder" in their Rav like me... :) Your oil amount isn't the issue, as you found anyways.
I agree that if it was oil spilled at your oil change, then it would have burned off by now. You should have seen some smoke under the hood when you checked also.
The only thing I can think of is that something or some animal got caught in or around your exhaust pipes. Leaking fluid would cause it also, but you can't find any.
You should take it to your local garage and ask the opinion of a mechanic. Maybe he will be familiar with the smell..... good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks! I have a similar problem, except I assume everyone has a V6 :)

That's my current plan, to check with the mechanic who works on my parents' cars, as long as I can guarantee the RAV will make the smell when I bring it to him (it seems whenever my mom's 4Runner has a recurring issue it will do it anywhere except when we drive it to the mechanic's shop). Currently, however, I don't think it's predictable enough that I can guarantee it'll make the smell...
 
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