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Thread: Electrical Burning Smell with Air-con On

  1. #1
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    Default Electrical Burning Smell with Air-con On

    Hi All

    My car is a Vectra-C '54 1.9 CDTI 120, no mods and with 80k on the clock.

    Last night, when stuck in traffic, I turned on the aircon, and just as the airflow from the vents was getting to its coldest level, the air started to get warm again and I noticed a strong burning electrical smell. The aircon light remained on so I quickly switched it off.

    I switched the aircon on again after a couple of minutes, but experienced the same problem, i.e. cold, then warm, then electrical burning smell. I've since been afraid to touch it.

    The aircon has been fine up until this point - I usually use it once every couple of weeks all year round, as is generally advised. The smell *isn't* present when just the heater blower is running, only when the aircon is switched on.

    Has anyone else experienced this, or know why this might be happening?

    Cheers
    Chris
    Last edited by howarthcd; 22nd May 2010 at 08:56.

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    Regular Member m8internet's Avatar
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    It's probably due to lack of use
    With the air con on :
    What heater switch number setting do you use?
    Do you have the direction set to feet, face, or windscreen?
    Is the recirculation switch on?

    Switch it on then have a good sniff around the engine bay for a similar smell
    Sit in the car with the radio off
    Are there any noises in the area between the glovebox and radio?

    Time how long it takes between switching on and the burning smell
    As soon as the burning smell appears do the same sniffer test around the engine bay

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    Default

    Thanks for the feedback - to answer your questions:

    What heater switch number setting do you use?
    3

    Do you have the direction set to feet, face, or windscreen?
    Face

    Is the recirculation switch on?
    No

    Switch it on then have a good sniff around the engine bay for a similar smell
    Sit in the car with the radio off
    Are there any noises in the area between the glovebox and radio?
    I'll try this later on

    Time how long it takes between switching on and the burning smell
    About 30s-1min, i.e. just long enough for the air to get to it's coldest

    As soon as the burning smell appears do the same sniffer test around the engine bay
    I'll try this later on.


    I do run the aircon every couple of weeks for 5 mins or so.

    Thanks again
    Chris

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    Regular Member Super T's Avatar
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    Default

    Remove the pollen filter and see if the fan motor is spinning freely and clean the drain while your having a peep.

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    Regular Member m8internet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Super T View Post
    Remove the pollen filter and see if the fan motor is spinning freely and clean the drain while your having a peep
    If the motor was at fault, then the smell would be present whether the air con was on or off

    Compare this and let us know the results, this will confirm if it is indeed the motor or the air con, switch the engine on :
    Direction set to face
    Air con OFF
    Recirculation OFF
    Switch number 2
    After 3 minutes change to switch number 3
    After a further 3 minutes change to switch number 4

    Now, put the air con ON
    Change to switch number 2
    After 3 minutes change to switch number 3
    After a further 3 minutes change to switch number 4

    If it is the motor, then you will smell the electric burning ALL the time
    If it is the air con, then you will only smell it with the air con ON

    With the setting on 4 and after the 9 minutes, is the cabin cooler?

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    Default

    Just to clarify my earlier posts, the burning smell was only present with the aircon switched on - there was no smell when the blower was running with the aircon switched off, regardless of the blower's speed. The re-circulation was switched off.

    Thanks for all of the suggestions. I've tried the aircon again this morning (with the car parked on the drive in the shade and with the engine cold) and, strangely, all seems well.

    Yesterday was really warm, we had been sat in traffic for 10 mins immediately after being on the motorway for approx 1hr, and the car had been sat in the sun all day at work. It's the first time I've used the aircon under such conditions as I only bought the car at the end of August last year.

    I'm wondering whether maybe one of the two electric cooling fans behind the radiator/intercooler/aircon matrix assembly may have been sticking, or failed to start, due to the heat, causing its motor windings to overheat (although if this was the case then I'm surprised that the affected fan's fuse didn't blow). The aircon matrix then wouldn't have been able to dissipate the heat, leading to a loss of effectiveness after a short period. Any smoke generated by the motor could have been sucked into the cabin through the blower inlet in the engine bay.

    I'll keep an eye on the situtation and update this thread with my findings in case they help anyone else in future.

    Cheers
    Chris
    Last edited by howarthcd; 22nd May 2010 at 11:59.

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    Quote Originally Posted by howarthcd View Post
    Hi All

    My car is a Vectra-C '54 1.9 CDTI 120, no mods and with 80k on the clock.

    Last night, when stuck in traffic, I turned on the aircon, and just as the airflow from the vents was getting to its coldest level, the air started to get warm again and I noticed a strong burning electrical smell. The aircon light remained on so I quickly switched it off.

    I switched the aircon on again after a couple of minutes, but experienced the same problem, i.e. cold, then warm, then electrical burning smell. I've since been afraid to touch it.

    The aircon has been fine up until this point - I usually use it once every couple of weeks all year round, as is generally advised. The smell *isn't* present when just the heater blower is running, only when the aircon is switched on.

    Has anyone else experienced this, or know why this might be happening?

    Cheers
    Chris
    I just had the same thing happen this afternoon. I switched on the air con and it began to get cold then after about 2 minutes I noticed the air getting warm again.

    I heard two whines from the engine bay and then a constant burning smell. The smell was the exact same as a burning clutch. I thought originally that the person in front of me was cooking their clutch but realised it was coming from my car shorty afterwards.

    Unlike the OP, my air con isnt working at all now. When I press the button nothing happens at idle. I thought it might be low on refigerant gas so I checked it with the gauge I got from the last time I topped it up and it's in the red zone, which means do not top up as a problem exists.

    Does anybody have any ideas? Any air-con experts?

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    I know this is an old thread of mine, but the problem just surfaced again today. The hot weather seems to be the trigger - I've had the aircon on regularly during the winter to de-mist the windscreen with no issues at all.

    This time the symptoms were the same as the previous occurrence last year and the smell was the same as a burning clutch, or hot brakes. I also noticed smoke from the belt end of the engine, so presumably there's an issue with the aircon compressor.

    Has anyone ever had to replace the compressor? Are any of the compressor's 'clutch' components replaceable? There's no unusual rumbling so I presume that the compressor's bearings are OK, but the overheating is obviously happening for a reason so I can't be sure.

    Cheers
    Chris

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    Ex-Staff Full Member John LE's Avatar
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    Trim : LE/VXR

    Engine : 2.0 cdti/1.6 Turbo

    Year : 13/07

    Default

    I currently have a thread up about an identical problem. I've put it down to a burnt out ac clutch. The clutch is available seperatly but it's 400 quid

    I am going to pick up a cheap compressor from a scrappy or ebay and try that. They are only about 50-60 quid second hand

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    Cripes, I wasn't expecting just the clutch assembly to be that much!

    Thanks for the info, I'll have a dig around to see if I can find your other post.

    I was contemplating getting hold of a replacement compressor, it seems that that might well be the best option.

    Cheers
    Chris

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