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Discussion Starter #1
A little obscure I realize, but I need some help. I drive 90% highway so I don't always catch the small nuances, but within the last couple of days, when I get off the highway I'll notice a faint smell of burning rubber. I didn't think my car was the source of the smell at first, so I wrote it off, but its been following me around now. I tried to sniff my way to a source yesterday, but can't tell where its coming from, other than its the from the front of the car. Nothing under the hood looks out of place, fluid levels and colors all looked good, the serpentine belt is only 15K miles old, oil has 4K miles on it, and there are no warning lights lit.

This morning I noticed the power steering pump was growling a little bit when I turned the wheel and the car was stationary. I never performed the o-ring tsb and I have had to add fluid to the reservoir recently, though its full now and I've never found it to be leaking.

I'm not sure if the two are related or not, or if the burning rubber smell was the first warning sign of something that is going wrong with the power steering pump. Has anyone experienced anything like this? Not really even sure where to begin here, short of taking it in to the dealer for them to chase down the source. Any suggestions (within reason) are appreciated.
 

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I had a truck before my honda that would put off a burning rubber/plastic smell only when it was driven for more than a few blocks, i never could figure out what it was, i ended up taking it to a shop and it ended up being something melted onto my exhaust up close to the exhaust manifold, when the truck would heat up it would start to melt more and make the horrid smell. made me feel pretty stupid. never could figure out what it used to be since it was melted so bad. just a thought.
 

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Ken
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To OP:
Has it been snowing lately in your area? I had this happen to me on my previous car several times. Each time it happened after some heavy snowfall. I traced the smell to the front of the car just like you did, but it didn't really hit me until I thought about it a little, I laughed when I figured it out.
Anyway, if nothing's out of place AND if you get the smell mostly when you're moving and not parked, I suggest running through a car wash. If you haven't cleaned your car off lately, road debris and flecks of worn rubber from the car/truck in front of you mix in with the slush and snow and gets splattered all over your front end. Eventually it cakes there on your front bumper and you get the burning rubber smell coming in from your vents.

It could also be something more serious, but I'd start narrowing down the problem starting with the easy stuff first. Plus a run through the car wash is about $10, if you just drove through salted roads a car wash is a good idea anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It has been snowing a lot, we've gotten about 8" in the last two days. I would take it through a car wash but it doesn't look like we're expected to get above freezing during the next couple of days and more snow is in the forecast.

I'll update if I find anything out.
 

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more than likely you ran over a plastic bag or something of that sort...eventually it will burn off...just like if you spilled oil
 

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As a highly trained polymers (plastics) guy from a school in your town, I can offer some suggestions.

If the smell is like hot wax, it's polyethylene or polypropylene. Could be a bag or something you picked up, or a piece of underhood shielding (much of the black splash shield type stuff) got broken off or moved and wound up too close to something hot. That would be my guess.

If it smells like burning hair, it's nylon. Probably a fastener or connector.

If it has a really sharp, acrid smell, it's either a polyurethane and a piece of a car's body, or b) phenolic and could be your brake pads. Phenolic will smell like overheated brake pads or a really, really overheated piece of electronics. Phenolic, to me, is less pungent that polyurethane.

A classic burning rubber smell (like tires when you lay a patch) is likely classic rubber and probably a hose somewhere. In that case, I'd be on the lookout for drips under the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
A polymers expert in the Cleveland area...imagine that. (a little Northeast Ohio humor for those that don't know its home to the rubber capital of the world)

Its definitely a rubber smell. Not that I beat up my cars a lot, but I've turned over enough tires to associate this smell with hot rubber. I thought the same thing about leaks, but its winter, so there's all kinds of puddles under my car. All the fluid levels looked good though, PS, brake, coolant, and oil.

The plot thickens though, because last night I started getting a metallic sound, like a heat shield rattling coming from up front. I just replaced my cat shields, so I know its not those, but I don't know of any other shields that commonly rust off or shake loose. It occurs near 800-900 RPM, basically at idle when its cold. Not that I'm lazy, but at 22 degrees and with a dirty wet car, I can't be crawling all around to source the sound. Could these two be related?
 

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06 Accord EX V6
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rubber smell

I am not sure what this is but I have had the same experience recently. I too am in an area where there is 8" of snow(NW GA), but noticed it in an attempt to get out of my drive. I was on top of the snow spinning. Surely this was not the tires heating up on top of snow???
 

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Second gear slammer!
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I am not sure what this is but I have had the same experience recently. I too am in an area where there is 8" of snow(NW GA), but noticed it in an attempt to get out of my drive. I was on top of the snow spinning. Surely this was not the tires heating up on top of snow???
it is more than likley just your tires burning rubber. even on snow the tires tend to burn a little. and smell like a burnout. :thmsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Definitely. Even though its ice, it will create enough friction to heat up the tires and smoke them a little bit if you let them spin.

That's definitely not the same issue for me. I've got Blizzaks mounted on a second set of stock alloys (thank you ebay) and they won't spin or slide unless you're really hammering on them.

I'd be more worried about the smell or the rattle now if the car weren't performing flawlessly otherwise. Short of those two symptoms, I don't have any other indicators that something is in need of repair.
 

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I have the same problem

I have the same problem on my 2004 4-cyl Sedan.
It happens mostly when getting off the highway for a long stretch and when there are severe winter condition (snow maybe but mostly cold...)

and up in Montreal, they are common condition.

I took my car to the dealer for a leaky oil gasket of some sort and mentionned the issue to them. They said they looked for something rubber that would have gotten stuck to hot componants but didn't find anything wrong.

Perhaps it was the leaky gasket. I'd have to look on my work order to find out exactly which gasket it was that they changed.

Having said that, I haven't had the smell since but again, it hasn't been that long since I was at the dealer so perhaps it's just a coincidence.

Chaotik
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm not sure if this is one step closer to some resolve or one step further away, but I've at located the source of the rattle.

http://www.thehondapartsstore.com/herson/jsp/prddisplay.jsp?inputstate=5&catcgry1=ACCORD&catcgry2=2005&catcgry3=4DR+EXL&catcgry4=KA5AT&catcgry5=EXHAUST+PIPE+(L4)&ListAll=All&vinsrch=no

In the attached link its #23 in the image, the "heat baffle" has come loose from the front and is resting on the exhaust pipe, probably 6" or so back from the cat. Obviously the baffle and all of its fasteners are steel, but could any of those sensors be emitting the melting rubber smell if the baffle isn't protecting them or something?

I would jack it up and crawl around for a better look at it, but its raining today and snow and 8 degrees are in the forecast for the weekend. Anyone ever lose this baffle before?
 

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touch either one of the rims at the front wheels, see if both is at the same heat after use, if one of it felt much hotter than the others, probly brake binding. i experienced before on my accord has a minor brake binding issue on one of the rear wheel and causes a smell something like burning rubber also. after fix, the smell gone.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I really appreciated the suggestion, but no, none of the wheels were even warm to the touch after a 30-mile drive last night. My gas mileage hasn't fallen off in any way either. I made a 300-mile round trip drive to Detroit this weekend and the smell was no stronger than after my daily commute, just a mild burning rubber smell.

The smell hasn't gotten any better or worse over time either, which makes me doubt the idea that I might have picked up some road debris with the snow. I'm really at a loss here.
 

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I really appreciated the suggestion, but no, none of the wheels were even warm to the touch after a 30-mile drive last night. My gas mileage hasn't fallen off in any way either. I made a 300-mile round trip drive to Detroit this weekend and the smell was no stronger than after my daily commute, just a mild burning rubber smell.

The smell hasn't gotten any better or worse over time either, which makes me doubt the idea that I might have picked up some road debris with the snow. I'm really at a loss here.
> While waiting at the parts counter, I spoke with a guy who was buying a new power steering pump and hoses. He said one of the hoses had moved and rubbed against the pulley long enough to develop a leak...

> A classic symptom of the power steering o-ring leak is lots of air foaming in the fluid reservoir, to the point that the fluid overflows the reservoir.

You might have already seen this youtube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf-_qp1y4yc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

If the link doesn't work, search for "Power steering leak Acura/Honda" contributed by realfixesrealfast.

If the TSB applies to your car, the repair is easy for most DIY'ers. A good thing to take care of before the problem develops.
 
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