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Premium Member
2014 328i xDrive Wagon 8 spd Auto
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1,975 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This is my 08 OBW, 2.5L NA, 4EAT.

Drove on a stretch of I84 Eastbound yesterday between Scranton and Newburgh.

Perfect conditions for black ice, passed two 4 car pile-ups and one 2 car pile-up. Didn't look like there were any serious injuries, thankfully. The areas where the cars went off the road were not terribly steep, so no rollover danger. Still I would imagine 8 of the 10 were totalled.

Road felt "greasy", which is the crux of this question, I think. When I was stopped for the last collision 13 or 14 miles after the Milford exit (my mid-point fuel stop) the car stunk so bad I thought it was on fire. In fact I almost grabbed the animal carrier and got out. I last remember a smell almost that bad after I drove through an shorter period of similar weather with my 03 Forester, also a 4-EAT.

I traded that car a couple of months later for other reasons so long term after effects weren't something I cared about.

Basically I drove probably 40-50 miles under this type of road condition. Average speed was probably 50 or so during that time.

Momentary Rant On: For those of you who think that was a tad fast tell that to the morons in their monster SUV's that were climbing up my bumper, or passing me like I was in reverse. We all know that SUVs are indestructible, stop on a dime, (even on on ice) and and outhandle a race car. Rant over.

I'm guessing the thing was beating itself up transferring power back and forth, although the drivability was never an issue. Drove another 270 miles after that with no events and didn't notice the odor again, not even when I parked to unload the car. The road conditions definitely felt greasy.

Question is, how do I tell if I screwed up the center diff.....something under there was hotter than blue hell and I'm pretty sure that was it.

BTW - the transmission fluid appears to be fine, so that wasn't it.

Should I call the dealer and schedule an appointment? How can they tell, or for that matter how can I tell if the center diff's been compromised?

Thanks for the read.
 

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Premium Member
2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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14,498 Posts
What about the differential fluid. I syspect that your cat went out. The conditions you describe should have 0 effect on the whole thing.
 

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Premium Member
2014 328i xDrive Wagon 8 spd Auto
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1,975 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
What about the differential fluid. I syspect that your cat went out. The conditions you describe should have 0 effect on the whole thing.
Thanks for the response, I appreciate it.

What makes you think I lost a cat (not sarcasm, just trying to get what's left of my brain around it)? There's been no loss of power, mileage on the way back was 28+ mpg. No cel's.

Front and rear diff fluid? I can check the front at lunch time and the rear this weekend. The car is close enough to 30k (I change the diff fluids every 15k) that I can change them if they're off color or smell bad, although if I pick up a ton of metal on the plugs I'll be seeing the dealer for sure.

I was concerned about the health of the cats before I had the recall (WVM-23) done since my driving for the 1st two round trips to DC (higher speed, prolonged driving, heavily loaded) matched exactly what the recall was designed to correct. My round trip mileage is about 1170 so I had 2340 miles of "bad" driving on the car before the recall was done.
 

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99 UK S-turbo
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8,566 Posts
'Cat went out' got cold, stopped converting, not a mechanical issue.

Even if you overheated the centre diff (VTD or MPT?) which I very very much doubt its inside the transmission and you wouldn't smell it!

I suspect the smell was from something/somewhere else, nothing you describe would make anything smell unless you got something on the hot exhaust.

Without being rude you sound a bit of a worrier, take a chill pill!

Simon
 

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2000 Forester
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263 Posts
^Just go drive it! If there is something really wrong, you'll find out soon enough and then take it in.
 

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Premium Member
2014 328i xDrive Wagon 8 spd Auto
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1,975 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Front diff fluid is fine.

The cats are covered up to a ** lot ** of miles on the PZEV, so I'm not too worried about them.

Powertrain is 5/60 and I'm about halfway there.

As regards the center diff being hosed, the only thing I'm worried about is it not performing in the snow, which I tend to see a lot. As you suggest, I'll probably figure it out if it has a problem, just preferably not out of cell phone range in northern Maine. When I go up there I tend to go off the beaten path and if its something I can proactively prevent by either maintenance or getting the dealer to repair before it totally fails, I will.

The strength of the smell is what got me, I've been in a car with a brake drum fire, not an enjoyable experience, and it didn't smell as bad as what toasted yesterday.

In the meantine, I'm going to keep driivng it, its another 3 weeks before I make the 1200 mile DC round trip again. And with my wife's car sitting in the garage if it does break, I have a spare.
 

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none none
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8,844 Posts
Unless you were spinning the wheels ALOT, it shouldn't have had any affect whatsoever on the "center diff". Is your model equipped with vdc? Could even be the handbrake drum misadjusted. My car tends to smell a bit of burnt rubber/gear oil when I push it hard drifting in the snow, but at that point even the turbo is glowing bright red.

The smell could even be road gunk on the exhaust heating up. The salty road mush smells a little weird when its burning off my headers.
 

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2017 Forester XT Touring
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1,067 Posts
Unless you were spinning the wheels ALOT, it shouldn't have had any affect whatsoever on the "center diff". Is your model equipped with vdc? Could even be the handbrake drum misadjusted. My car tends to smell a bit of burnt rubber/gear oil when I push it hard drifting in the snow, but at that point even the turbo is glowing bright red.

The smell could even be road gunk on the exhaust heating up. The salty road mush smells a little weird when its burning off my headers.
I just got back from a 4 day trip in the snowy and icy mountains. Once while I was up there I noticed a not-too-pleasant smell. And then on my way back down yesterday I stopped for gas and noticed that there was still a smell. At first I thought maybe it had something to do with the AWD or something but thought that couldn't be it - especially from a few days on ice. I don't smell it today and am leaning towards road salt/nastiness burning off of hot parts under the car. Car drove and continues to drive just fine.
 

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Premium Member
2004 FXT Premium 4EAT
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229 Posts
I just got back from a 4 day trip in the snowy and icy mountains. Once while I was up there I noticed a not-too-pleasant smell. And then on my way back down yesterday I stopped for gas and noticed that there was still a smell. At first I thought maybe it had something to do with the AWD or something but thought that couldn't be it - especially from a few days on ice. I don't smell it today and am leaning towards road salt/nastiness burning off of hot parts under the car. Car drove and continues to drive just fine.
I just got back, myself. I love these tires! I got a bit of a funny smell when I was going up hill slowly. Smelled like burning rubber. I've smelled it before with the same circumstances. But it drives fine. And all fluids are full.
 
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