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Old 07-07-2022, 03:27 PM   #1
humbojb
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1995 SL1
Default 1995 SL1 exhaust fumes

I smell exhaust fumes in the passenger compartment of my SL1-they actually give me a headache. It happens with the ac on or off, with the vent open or closed, just all the time. I've owned the car for a few years but have only started to drive it regularly lately. A mechanic put a new cat converter on it a year ago but that was only because the existing one was rusted out. I've heard about somekind of problem related to the exhaust manifold. Love the car, hate the stink!!
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Old 07-07-2022, 03:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: 1995 SL1 exhaust fumes

So, what is your intention here, is this going to be a DIY job, or is it going to a shop for repair. An exhaust leak should be simple for a shop to find.

If you want to try yourself, then you need some way to pressurize it; a leaf-blower or outlet from a shop-vac usually works well. connect the pressure source to the tail pipe, engine not running, and then use soapy water in a spray bottle to look for bubbles all over the outside of the exhaust system.

A shop will do similar, but will introduce smoke with the pressurized air, so can see leaks without having to bother spraying soapy water on lots of stuff. Yes, DIY smoke generators are possible, but I think hardly worth the effort for just a one-time use like this.
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Old 07-08-2022, 05:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: 1995 SL1 exhaust fumes

In my area of the country most exhaust shops will look at it for free then give an estimate for repair while also bringing you under the car when it is on the hoist to show where the problem lies.

If the repair is more money than you want/can afford to spend you will know what the problem is for a home repair, or the much easier route for most at least is just to have them repair the leak.
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Old 07-19-2022, 09:28 PM   #4
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Default Re: 1995 SL1 exhaust fumes

Sorry, I posted this again. I took it to an exhaust shop and they said the entire exhaust system looked fine. They did replace a vacuum hose that had holes in it and it seemed ok for awhile but my wife now reports fumes again. A Saturn guy I used to know told me that there was some part of the exhaust manifold that was known to leak sometimes. Please help
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Old 07-20-2022, 06:40 AM   #5
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Default Re: 1995 SL1 exhaust fumes

The shop saying "it looks fine" implies they didn't do a smoke or pressure test on the exhaust.

There's nothing in the exhaust that's specific to Saturns that's common to leak.
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Old 07-26-2022, 04:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: 1995 SL1 exhaust fumes

You're right! I took it to a shop who said they would do a smoke test. They charged $50 and their smoke test involved looking for smoke and putting a gag over the exhaust pipe. Obviously, they didn't know what a smoke test was. I will take it to another shop on August 5th who does know what a smoke test is. They have the machine.
FWIW, the smell doesn't occur until you've driven the car at speed for about 30 miles. Then you smell it and it gives you a headache. PCV valve? EGR valve? What could release fumes only after the car gets good and warm?
BTW, the first shop said they found nothing.
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Old 07-28-2022, 06:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1995 SL1 exhaust fumes

I'll say that when my EGR is in need of cleaning, or particularly when it was failing, I seem to have much more sense of residual burnt oil, maybe even through the AC/heater vents. In the past it was venting carbon deposits around the engine bay If I drive for a long period of time, particularly at low speeds, I can even kind of smell it on my clothes. This is all pretty subjective though

Don't know your mileage or how much oil you burn, but maybe it's that and you're just sensitive to the sort of thing?
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Old 08-05-2022, 10:19 AM   #8
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Default Re: 1995 SL1 exhaust fumes

We have 65000 original miles on it. And it goes through about 1+ quart of oil every 400 miles. We did the thing with the cleaner and it didn't help the oil consumption. We did have the catalytic converter changed about 6 months ago and the mechanic installed a cheap ($150) converter and I'm wondering if that had anything to do with it. What if I just take off the catalytic converter and run a straight pipe instead keeping the original muffler? The car doesn't have to pass a smog test. Will have the smoke test done today and will let all know the results.
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Old 08-06-2022, 09:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: 1995 SL1 exhaust fumes

OK, so I took it to a shop that actually has the proper equipment. They hooked up the smoke test and there wasn't any leak anywhere. To be sure, they let the car idle for about 15 minutes and did the smoke test again. No sigh of anything. I'm confident that the problem is not in the exhaust system. Next, they looked for anything that was leaking that could drip on the exhaust system. Minor transmission leak. BUT, the whole backside of the power steering pump was covered with black oily stuff and it was wet. So, for sure the power steering pump seal is bad. We now think the power steering fluid is dripping on the exhaust and causing the odor. We have ordered a new power steering pump and will have it installed next Friday. Will let all know the outcome. Even if it still stinks, we know we have replaced something that needed replaced.
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Old 08-15-2022, 11:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: 1995 SL1 exhaust fumes

The power steering pump and reservoir was leaking power steering fluid which in turn was causing fumes to enter the passenger compartment. We had both the pump and reservoir replaced--$498-- and the fumes are gone. There is a slight residual odor due to power steering fluid covering the back of the engine but we will take it to a car wash and clean it off. Moral of the story? Test and test again before you replace. The smoke test was the definitive test because it ruled out any exhaust related fumes. Then we started to look for something that was dripping on the exhaust system. The power steering pump is in a hard to see area but turned out to be the culprit. Thanks to all for your help
Jim
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