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Honda Pilot Heater Smells

Has anyone experienced a toxic smell coming from the heater in the 2006 Honda Pilot that burns your nose?


  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Toxic smell? Can you describe it a little more accurately? Acrid? Acidic? Rotten? Chemical? Could it be an allergic reaction to dust or some other allergen?

    tidester, host
  • The heater smell is somewhere between a burning smell and a chemical smell, more toward chemical. I've owned lots of cars in my life and the heater in all of them delivers warm air that does not burn one's nose. Several passengers in my car also report the burning nose. I live in a high allergy area, but that normally exhibits itself in a car's air conditioning with a slightly moldy smell. Any suggestions on what I might ask the Honder dealership to investigate since I've only owned the car since May and it is still under warranty? Thanks!
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    There are a lot of possible causes including a defective heating motor or leaking antifreeze. Does it occur when you use "recirc" mode for ventillation?

    tidester, host
  • Thanks so much for your prompt reply. I almost emailed you back this morning to tell you that the ONLY way I can stop the smell is to turn the system to "OFF" and then hit the "recir" ventillation mode, essentially stopping all incoming air. Not fun in 30 degree weather!

    I also thought of leaking antifreeze, but a friend said antifreeze has a sweet smell and this it neither sweet or foul smelling.

    I will ask the dealership to investigate the heating motor and/or leaking antifreeze.

    Thanks again for all your help.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Good luck and let us know what you find out!

    tidester, host
  • I have the same problem, the dealer told me I ran over a plastic bag. However, it has returned, an acrid, chemical smell. Was your problem resolved?
  • A student in my class who is a mechanic suggested it smelled like an electronic burning smell much like a "fried" computer board, which it does, and that it might be because I was running the heater with the AC on. He also explained it in terms of how much humidity is or is not in the car. With both the AC and heater on there would be very little humidity in the car which might also cause a burning sensation in one's nose.

    I have now made sure the "AC Off" sign is clearly visable on the display and I haven't noticed the smell as much. In addition, I run the mode divided between floor and top vents, rather than through the top vents to minimize what hits me in the face.

    Apparently I had been running "both" the AC and heat even though the display did not indicate "AC On." Just the temp, mode, and fan speed showed on the display.

    I don't know for sure if this is the problem, but the smell is at least tolerable and it makes more sense than what the dealership told me--"a new car smell." New car smells are pleasant not irritating! I doubt if running over a plastic bag is your problem either. I really like my car, so I'm hoping the heater problem goes away.

    Good luck.
  • nikky7nikky7 Posts: 4
    We have a 2003 Honda Civic. Owned since it was new. This winter while using the heater there is a toxic burning smell. Also chemical odor smells like paint thinner. The odor makes you sick. We have taken it to the dealer for repair. They have inspected the heater core & pressure tested the coolant system but find no problems. Yet the odor is still there. The only relief is not to use the heater. Any suggestions? Anyone have this problem and find a solution.
  • nikky7nikky7 Posts: 4
    We have a honda civic 2003 with the same exact problem. We have taken it to the dealer 3 times to try and find the problem with no luck. The smell makes you so sick you cant drive it for long distances. Did you have any luck with checking your heater motor ? The dealership told us there was a bulletin about the heater motors wires burning but that our heater motor checked okay. Thanks for any help.
  • ezfreshezfresh Posts: 6
    do you have heated seats? was that the problem??
  • My wife complained to the dealer about a noise coming from the heater and A/C vents esp. when stopping the car. The dealer tech rode with her and heard the noise but quoted a 2 hour estimate to check it out ($195 not covered by HondaCare) No thanks. We looked online and found a diagram at: cgry1=Pilot&catcgry2=2003&catcgry3=5DR+EXL+NAVI&catcgry4=KA5AT&catcgry5=REAR+HEA- TER+UNIT

    She crawled under car and unclogged the drain (no 7), draining appoximately 8 oz of water. No more noise and all for the cost of a few Q-tips. The drain is under the vehicle between the drive shaft and the heatshield on the floor pan about under the rear of the center console. She described it as a flush gromet and got some black gunk out then clear water. Also recommend cleaning dust screen (no 13) on driver's side hers was clogged with dust, lint, etc. We will check now to see if draining regularly as does the front evaporator.
  • Thanks for the information. I checked mine and it was clean, and I was able to find it following your description of the location. Mine has a rubber nipple that extends down from the flush grommet...maybe an inch long...quite flexible.
  • j1999mitsj1999mits Posts: 2
    Have you figured out what is making the weird smell in your vents? My Mitsubishi Galant is doing it too and it is now so bad that I cough and it burns my eyes
  • Hi
    Heater Problem

    I have 2006 Honda Pilot EX-L 45000 Mile.
    three days ago i try to turn on my heat, and then the front vents and window foresters are blowing cold air, while the the rear vents are blowing Hot air as I wanted.
    I hope some can help me with this.
    thank you in advance
    Wiilwaal :confuse:
  • I have a 2005 Honda Pilot with the same problem. How did you fix it?

    Please advise, Jim
  • I have a '98ACCORD and it does the same thing. We have had the intoxicating smell for about a year and a half and the burning plastic smell started about 2 weeks ago. The car has 278,000 miles on it but I'm going to keep driving it until it burns up I guess.
  • My problem was not a smell but a lack of heat from the front and plenty of heat in the back. The issue was the water valve mounted on the fire wall. Cost about $25. I would guess that a smell would be the result of the plastic breaking down after years of use or maybe the thermostat is alowing the heater core to over heat and melting the plastic. Some plastic begins to move around 100c.
  • jensadjensad Posts: 388
    It sounds like you get the most out of your car. I did also with a 95 accord which I sold for $ 5500 in 2006 with 176k on it. (I drive here in Ca. at high speeds, .i.e. 76-80 80 of driving.)

    I always drive until the cost to fix is much greater than the cost to maintain. Honda and Acura cars have always got me many miles along the freeways and city traffic and little fix costs.

    Good luck to all and stay safe.

  • sue64sue64 Posts: 1
    The air comes out of the vents, but there is no heat. So I took it it into a dealership and they replaced the thermostat, heater core, and the coolant. There is still no heat. After this an anti-freeze smell came through the vent as soon as I turn on the engine without the heater of with the heater. Now, the dealership told me to replace cylinder head or replace engine with used part from junk yard.Can someone help me?
  • manologicmanologic Posts: 1
    I am curious about you Honda Pilot. What did you do to eventually fix the vehicle. I have a Honda Pilot that exhibits many of the same symptoms and I am on my third heater core in 15 months.


  • bjaderbjader Posts: 10
    It is not necessarily to replaced your thermostat if your car is not overheating. It's indicates that your coolant temperature sensor is good. Also you don't need to replace your heating core if there is no leak/age. If your heating core is leaking you will notice that your passenger front floor will be wet besides you'll notice that your front windshield will be foggy. As you said you changed everything and still no heat. In my experienced you forgot one thing before changing everything. You forgot to check your heater control valve which is by the firewall inside the engine compartment. Poassibly the cable slipped and need to be adjusted. The procedure is simple but you need to request the print from your auto parts store. I hope this little informations could help you.
  • Has anyone figured out what was causing the burning plastic/chemical smell? We are experiencing the same thing with our 2012 Honda Pilot. Unfortunately, it will be terrible one day and fine the next...making it virtually impossible for our mechanic to sort it out. It has happened with the AC on this past summer, with the heat on this winter, and now the fumes seem to seep in even when it is all turned off. :(
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