I have a 2011 VW Golf TDI with around 200000 Km and recently (Nov 2022) I noticed a burnt smell in the cabin after driving for five minutes or so. At the same time the cabin is colder than usual and the coolant temperature indicator, which used to go to 90 fairly quickly and stay there, now bounces between 70 and 90 even after driving for more than 30 minutes and never settles at 90.

The coolant level in the expansion tank is normal. Coolant colour and transparency seem OK. No light indicator and no OBD codes stored. I had the belts and water pump replaced almost four years ago. Any idea what could be? And if it's a coolant leak, how to detect it?

Thank you!

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 2:21

1 Answer 1


If the coolant level is normal then it seems unlikely that it's a coolant leak.

From your description it sounds more like a THERMOSTAT than anything else. I'd replace that first.

It might also be a clogged heater core but that seems less likely due to the coolant temperature indicator showing lower than normal temp.

  • Tanks for replying! Would the thermostat cause the smell as well? The smell only comes out when the heat is on, regardless if air is recirculated or brought from outside. If I switch to cool air there is no smell.
    – Dan
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 16:54
  • I doubt it. Is it possible that your blower fan is also having an issue?
    – jwh20
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 18:11
  • Don't think it's the blower fan, otherwise it would put out the smell even when running cold air I imagine.
    – Dan
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 0:05

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