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Burning Smell After Steep Incline


Afrojoe

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1998 Ford Explorer XL 4WD
Today I drove a 180 mile trip in my Gen 2 Explorer. They last stretch was somewhat curve up hill roads. Constant 2500 rpm uphill, pretty much. When we got to our cabin there was a burning smell and some slight smoking according to my family members. I could smell it but didn't see any smoke. One said it was oil another said power steering. I assumed it was transmission fluid because of the bad past of explorer transmissions and the constant up hill load (being similar to towing). Could it be my transmission overheating? Any other ideas guys? Thanks in advance guys. Just worried about my lady. It's the 5 speed auto by the way. 4wd. 4.0 ohv.
 


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shadowless127

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What did it smell like? Was it a rubbery smell, chemical smell, metallic smell?

2500rpm uphill climbs shouldn't overheat your transmission. I have the same 5spd in my 03 V8 and two weeks ago just did a trip up to the mountains that was constant 2500-3000rpm inclines and didnt have any issues. If your transmission was overheating you would've noticed your transmission performing bad/abnormally.
 




Afrojoe

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What did it smell like? Was it a rubbery smell, chemical smell, metallic smell?

2500rpm uphill climbs shouldn't overheat your transmission. I have the same 5spd in my 03 V8 and two weeks ago just did a trip up to the mountains that was constant 2500-3000rpm inclines and didnt have any issues. If your transmission was overheating you would've noticed your transmission performing bad/abnormally.
It wasn't rubber. If it wasn't transmission related I'd have to go wit has oil or power steering. I had been driving for like 2 hours prior to the incline and don't have any type of aftermarket cooling on my transmission though. Despite that it was acting perfectly fine so I guess that can be ruled out. It could likely be oil because I have a very slow pan leak I think. Might have dripped off the pan and straight on the exhaust. I think my power steering fluid could use replacing, but to my understanding it being dark isn't necessarily bad though, right?
 




Flash

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Could be that at the angle you were climbing at that an oil drip could now hit the exhaust where before on the level it may have missed.
 




Turdle

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If you did not switch off the overdrive, it is quite possible the trans overheated due to the fact the torque converter could not lock up in the higher gear on an incline.

I suggest you purchase a scanguage II so you can monitor the trans temps instead of playing this guessing game. It's plug and play. You do need to enter a code into it for ford trans temp gauge to work, but it is very simple.
 




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I suggest you purchase a scanguage II so you can monitor the trans temps instead of playing this guessing game. It's plug and play. You do need to enter a code into it for ford trans temp gauge to work, but it is very simple.

The ScanGauge II is the way to go. If you keep an eye out for sales, you can pick one up for a lot less than the regular $160 (got mine for $112 or something). You can pick up a trans temp gauge kit for cheaper, but the installation is much more of a hassle than the ScanGauge, and you lose all of the added benefits of the ScanGauge.

Pulling a loaded 5x8x5.5 enclosed trailer up long stretches of winding hills, and brief steep hills, my transmission temp got to 226 or so (OD off). I didn't notice any odd burning smells, smoke, or anything at those temps. If you don't have an external trans cooler and left OD on, you could have had temps much higher than 226.
 




lobo411

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This happens to me every time I go to the mountains. In my case, I know it's just oil. I have a few minor leaks (rear main, occasionally the valve covers).

Check your fluid levels, but you should be doing that anyway.
 




Afrojoe

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I'm thinking it was solely oil dripping from the pan to the exhaust. I'll look into picking up a temp gauge or some transmission cooler in case. I left O/D on because I didn't think about it. I'm sure I was in first or second gear the entire climb though so OD shouldn't matter to much right? I plan on checking fluids in a parking lot after I come off the mountain. I appreciate the answers guys. I'll figure out the oil leak sometime in the future. If it's not the pan then I'll look into fixing the rear main seal next time I'm doing any major work. Maybe as a weekend project following a lifter swap.
 




Flash

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I'm sure I was in first or second gear the entire climb though so OD shouldn't matter to much right?

That's right, if you were in 1st or 2nd gear you weren't in OD.
A trans cooler is a good idea anyway especially if you tow or work the car hard like that.
Not expensive and highly recommended.

There could be all sorts of road crud on your exhaust pipe that didn't smell until it got hot enough.
If you get under and look you'll easily see cooked on oil.
 








lobo411

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Don't be too surprised if it graduates from the whiff of oil to a massive cloud of smoke under the right conditions! Happened to me today: every time I go to the mountains, I get the burning oil smell. Purely by coincidence, most of the time I park with the engine level with or lower than the vehicle as a whole.

This time I got a parking spot that left me with the engine level above the vehicle as a whole. Started it up after 5 hours of hiking, and got a huge cloud of blue smoke--for a moment I was wondering what I should do if the X was on fire!

I guess oil had continued to leak on the manifold after I had left, and it had pooled. As soon as I started her up...whoosh!
 




Afrojoe

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I'm almost certain mine was just oil on the exhaust from the incline. Since then though I've found that Walmart sells cheap fire extinguishers in the automotive section. I think I'll pick one up. They're small but only 14 dollars and one day it could save myou life, my X, or someone else. Would be a nice add to the various thing I carry "In Case".
 




Robman

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Probably valve cover gaskets.
 




Afrojoe

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Just bought a used axillary cooler off a Gen 1 at the local junk yard. Gonna hook it up here soon to help keep my tyranny cool. Should I run it in sync with the stock cooler or by pass it? I also bought some hefty D-rings off an expedition. I'll be mounting those in the near future too.
 




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