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Discussion Starter #1
I notice a strong burning smell on my 87 Spider at highway speeds if I let off the throttle a bit and then accelerate again. I don't notice it so much at lower speeds or lower gears.

I perceive the smell coming from the engine bay, and not the rear.

Any thoughts on the culprit?
 

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Burning oil (as in dripping on exhaust manifold) or burning rubber type smell (as in a belt rubbing)?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think it smells more like burning oil - my wife says it smells like burning rubber. I know that's not helpful and I don't know that I can discern the difference at the moment.

I can still smell the remnants on me after a long drive (3 hours).
 

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I suppose after a drive you could look around the engine compartment and try to find traces of fresh oil and perhaps a belt that looks like it has been rubbing. At some point do a wipe down of the engine if it isn't clean to help trace the source of the oil - also look under the car as well.

You mention higher speeds, perhaps with additional airflow within the engine compartment due to the speed, oil is being flung(sp?) around.

(I can tell you from experience, my Spider is no bed of roses...)
 

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I loose exhaust manifold will bring smell into the car and stick to you.

Vin
 

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Could it be clutch smell? Do the revs climb quickly without corresponding acceleration when you accelerate in 5th gear?
 

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How much oil is leaking on to your garage/driveway floor? Thats going to be your first clue.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wow, thanks for the replies, everyone.

any recent work done on the alfa?
Had my brake master cylinder replaced a few days ago. Sadly though, this problem predates that.

I loose exhaust manifold will bring smell into the car and stick to you.
That thought crossed my mind. There seems to be a build up of odor when I let off the gas that I only smell when I apply gas again.

Could it be a hot brake smell?
I don't think it's a hot brake smell because I notice it without touching the brake.

Could it be clutch smell? Do the revs climb quickly without corresponding acceleration when you accelerate in 5th gear?
I'll be sure to make note of this when I go out for my next drive.


How much oil is leaking on to your garage/driveway floor? Thats going to be your first clue.
I'm parked in my in-laws very clean garage this week and I did notice 3 dime sized drops of oil on the floor - passenger side. Perhaps that's the thread to pull on?
 

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when your car is ticking over and you remove the oil cap, is there excess pressure there perhaps?....ideally if you hold a piece of thin paper just by one edge, over the oil filler hole, it should just stay there (ie, shouldn't be blown off or shouldn't be sucked in)

does the oil on the filler cap smell burned (or on the dip stick for that matter)?
 

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don't think it's a hot brake smell because I notice it without touching the brake.
It can still be a binding caliper

I'm parked in my in-laws very clean garage this week and I did notice 3 dime sized drops of oil on the floor - passenger side. Perhaps that's the thread to pull on?
Every Alfa leaks oil. This would be a good place to start. Get a good flashlight and trace back the source of those drops of oil. Remember, even though you see oil on the floor of the passenger side doesn't mean thats where the source is. My guess would be oil is dripping on a hot exhaust pipe.....just a guess though.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Every Alfa leaks oil. This would be a good place to start. Get a good flashlight and trace back the source of those drops of oil. Remember, even though you see oil on the floor of the passenger side doesn't mean thats where the source is. My guess would be oil is dripping on a hot exhaust pipe.....just a guess though.
It looks like there is a small leak coming from the seam around the oil pan, or perhaps some of the bolts. That seems pretty low down to be causing the burning smell I notice, yes?

Also, I think I'd like to amend my comment about perceived smell location. It seems stronger if I stick my head back in the rear shelf. Its hard (and unsafe!) to really test this on my own. Alfa mechanic says the exhaust system looks okay (had a rattle in the muffler sorted out).

does the oil on the filler cap smell burned (or on the dip stick for that matter)?
No burning smell on the oil filler cap or dip stick.
 
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