I sense a burning smell when getting out of the car (Nissan Maxima 02 V6). I am pretty sure it is an oil leak from somewhere based on the odor, but not sure where else to look for.

The smell was pretty heavy about a month ago and I noticed that the valve covers were wet outside and oil would drip on top of the heat shields of the exhaust manifolds (both front and rear). So this is what I did:

  • Changed both valve cover gaskets (lots of gasket maker on the curved edges).
  • Cleaned the outside of the valves as well as I could.
  • Cleaned the heat shields of the two exhaust manifolds (For the rear one I could only get my hand so far down there).
  • Changed the 3 gaskets that come with the intake manifold plentum kit.
  • Cleaned the space in between the intake manifold since there were debri, dust, oil etc...

After doing all the above I have to say that the burn smell SIGNIFICANTLY dropped, now I only sense it when getting out of the car but before I could sense it as soon as I turn the car on or off and at times even while driving when putting the heat on, I thought I was going to intoxicate myself.

However, there is still smell when getting out of the car, even though is not as strong, I do not like it. It seems like there is still a leak somewhere and I do not know where. I went over everything I did (visual and feel inspection) and there is no more oil leaking from the valve covers, the exhaust shields are dry. It has to be a mild leak because I do not see oil staints in the ground and the car does not complain about being low on oil.

Where could this be coming from? any ideas?

Suggestion: Also somebody with enough rights could create the following tags: valve cover, manifold, intake manifold, exhaust manifold, heat shield

Thanks. Viriato

  • 1
    Also consider that the oil doesn't all burn up immediately. There could be some leftover oil on some components that is causing the smell, so look as best as you can, but maybe it just needs time. Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 16:40
  • I added two of your tag suggestions and removed one. While you mention exhaust manifold in the question, no oil can leak from the exhaust manifold under normal circumstances, so would not be pertinent to this question. Neither would heat shield, nor blower-motor. Manifold itself is too generic, especially since there is now intake manifold. Since there can be only five tags, this limits the options as well. Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 10:57
  • Thanks for adding the tags, yes manifold was a type. I know oil cannot leak from the exhaust manifold the only reason why i wanted to put it in the tag is because prior to my repair oil was leaking on top of the exhaust manifold heat shield that is why I wanted to put those tags in the question.
    – Viriato
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


Try checking around every pipe, that you can visually see. Best route would be to get it up on a ramp and have a look underneath, have a look at the oil sump maybe there's a leak there. If you know someone with a ramp it would make it easier to look underneath the car though. Try going around to where the smell is coming from, see if there is maybe any burning pipe/rubber. Check your oil level every few days and see if it is going down.

  • I put the car on a flor jack and two jack stands and i can see that on the passenger side is kind of wet i see grease though i think its further up though... I cant reach though. Sump seems well and oil level as well.
    – Viriato
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 16:40
  • 1
    I would advise you to jet wash the underneath of your car, especially under the passenger foot well and see if the oil or grease like substance returns. Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 13:07

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