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Odor in cabin area of 2011 Chevy Traverse

Discussion in 'Chevy Traverse Forum (GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave)' started by dock420, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. dock420

    dock420 New Member

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    Hello all,

    I bought my wife a 2011 Traverse and have been in a constant battle with the way the interior smells. The smell happens when the vehicle has the a/c set on "fresh" air and either at low speeds or at a stop.

    I have found some other posts relating to this but I am wondering if anyone has found a permanent fix. It is a 2011 AWD, and I genuinely like the car but the smell is horrible. It has been to the dealership on three different occasions. Prior to 08-30-2012, they installed a charcoal filter system (#10-01-37-002 dated 12-09-2010), and they advised that this should remedy the problem.

    Unfortunately it did not. I picked up the vehicle from the dealer on 08-29-2012 and they advised me that the charcoal filter was completely clogged and they cleaned it. This never seemed to work in the first place.

    The stated cause in the TSB is "The condition may be caused by PTU (transfer case) fluid odor being pulled into the vehicle through the HVAC air inlet due to the location of the PTU vent". I guess my questions are: Is there a fix for this that GM will approve (apparently there is a vent tube fix, but GM wont approve this)? Is there a long term problem with breathing this? I am getting close to being at my wits end. They advised me that they could replace the oil with synthetic, but it would be at my cost, and it would still be unknown if this would fix the problem.

    I have the print out of the filter installation procedure, if anyone is interested I can try to scan it and post it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2012
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  2. Curky

    Curky New Member

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    I do not have a real answer for you but I would take it back to the dealer, tell them you had enough and you are tired of your kids getting stomachaches every time thins happens. This is a 2011 and should not have this problem and you want the same car as a rent a car until this problem is completely fixed. Don’t be a nice guy be loud and do not take no for an answer. There is no way I would take this. If the dealer will not take care of it, ask for the manager or the owner. If that don’t work contact GM again and again! You should not have to deal with this on a new car.. Also you can take it to any GM dealer not that one.
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  3. Curky

    Curky New Member

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  4. dock420

    dock420 New Member

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    Curky,

    Yea-Its obnoxious....The dealership has been great and appear to want to help. I'm assuming that they can only do what GM authorizes. I'm about to call GM. Not that I guess its relevant, but I have 3 kiddos with asthma and really don't need anymore "triggers". Its just sad that they design and build a car with a known problem, but cant seem to engineer a fix. Ill start working the phones today as time allows. Ill keep yall posted
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  5. Curky

    Curky New Member

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    good, it is new so i would not take it, don’t let them hold out till warranty is up.
    [TABLE]
    [TR]
    [TD]RULE §215.208
    [/TD]
    [TD]Lemon Law Relief Decisions
    [/TD]
    [/TR]
    [/TABLE]


    1) If it is found that the manufacturer, distributor, or converter is not able to conform the vehicle to an applicable express warranty by repairing or correcting a defect in the complainant's vehicle which creates a serious safety hazard or substantially impairs the use or market value of the vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, and that the affirmative defenses provided under Occupations Code, §2301.606, are not applicable, the final order authority shall issue a final order to the manufacturer, distributor, or converter to replace the vehicle with a comparable motor vehicle, less a reasonable allowance for the owner's use of the vehicle, or accept the return of the vehicle from the owner and refund to the owner the full purchase price of the vehicle, less a reasonable allowance for the owner's use of the vehicle.



    http://www.chevrolet.com/help/contact-us.html
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
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  6. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Moderator

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    If all else fails you could try relocating the vent tube.
    The transfer case vent tube is a small flexible hose going from the transfer case up to a mounting point on the firewall, your will probably be 3/8th tube or smaller, cut a few inches of the end of tube off and take to either a hardware store or one of your better stocked auto parts stores (I like Napa for stuff like this), buy 3 or 4 feet of hose the same size, enough to route the tube to the front of the truck away from the air intake, the hose you cut off probably has a small fitting at the end of it, if you got the same diameter hose you should have no problem reusing this fitting, just zip tie your new hose up and out of the way to wherever you choose for your new location.
    Length of the hose will not hurt anything, it's a breather hose evacuating fumes from the T case when it warms up, the fitting is just to stop moisture from getting into the T case so it is important to be on the end, just make sure you relocate the end of the hose as high as you can to help keep moisture out.
    Just about any off-road nut that likes mud will relocate and lengthen t-case and axle breather tubes so it's a very common modification.
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  7. GM Customer Service

    GM Customer Service Member

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    Dock420,

    I'm sorry you are experiencing this unpleasant smell. Did you end up calling GM Customer Service as you had mentioned?

    Evan, GM Customer Service
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  8. dock420

    dock420 New Member

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    I did. They are in the process of talking to the dealership here in the local area. They advised that they may try replacing the current oem gear fluid with full synthetic, because the odor is less. My question in doing this, will the same vapors still invade the cabin area with just less smell, and is it harmful.

    And TBPLUS 10, I have seen a video of the fix you are talking about. Will me trying this jeopardize my warranty in any way, or do you know. Thanks guys and gals for the reply. Is anyone else on this board having or heard of this problem?
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
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  9. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Moderator

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    Unfortunately I cant answer how your dealership will look at this modification, I can tell you that to deny your warranty claim they have to prove the modification caused a failure.
    Google Magnussen Moss Warranty act and you should be able to find enough information to get a better idea of how a warranty works.
    I would start by talking to the dealership, this mod may be an option their open to but just cant do themselves without approval from above, and that approval might take longer than your willing to wait.
    The other option is retain all the parts you remove to do the mod and if you ever need to go back to the dealership put the vehicle back in factory condition, they wouldnt have any way of telling if youd done this or not. My problem here is in my opinion it's a little on the shady side if you ever have a problem pertaining to the T case, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do and if the mfgr isnt helpful on the issue you have yours to protect.
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  10. dock420

    dock420 New Member

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    Just a follow up, so anyone else with this problem will be familiar with whats going on. I have been contacted several times with GM Customer Care and they are very polite when talking about this issue. On 9-05-2012 I spoke to them and they advised that there is no fix for this problem, but would like to offer me free oil changes for 12 mos., 12k miles as a courtesy. I asked if this would forfeit any right to a claim for the actual problem with the smell and they stated "no". I then asked what to do about my current problem and they stated that at this time there was no fix and she was unable to offer a resolution. My follow up question "is the vapors being inhaled completely safe for me and my family, and General Motors would guarantee that there would be no ill effects in the future". She advised me that she would document my question and try to get it answered.

    Ok-guys, Im at the end of my rope. While I appreciate the "free" oil changes and I am grateful that they are staying in touch with me, I'm getting beyond frustrated. I plan to take the vehicle to another dealership just to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. However, they are forcing me to follow up on what CURKY forwarded to me on the lemon law. Does anyone have any final thoughts or suggestions?
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  11. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan Administrator Staff Member

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    Ok, let's keep the topics clear on here. This boils down to a few different issues, let's handle them one at a time.

    1) You claim there is an odor in the cabin (coming through the vents).
    2) Other people have complained and GM says it's from the PTU vapors, issued TSB to change charcoal filter.
    3) Filter change didn't remedy the problem for you.
    4) You're now looking for other answers and fixes, etc.

    Ok, so my first question is are you the first owner, or did you purchase used? Also, are you the only one(s) who can smell it, or does everyone who gets into the Traverse (and I drove Traverses on/off for a year or two, they're pretty sweet vehicles) smell it and get sick to their stomach? Since you've documented this out so well I also assume that this is a first-time occurance for you with getting a bad smell in a car like this? I'd like to see the TSB to see how many people are complaining about this, maybe it's something that builds up over time.

    Thoughts: Can you try to mask the smell with something like an air freshener or ion-based air purifier, or is it beyond that? Those things can do wonders, and just because it might work doesn't mean that you have to do it. It's just a suggestion to help you otherwise enjoy what in my opinion is the best full-size crossover platform on the market today in it's price range.

    Other Thoughts: If this was a big enough issue, then GM will come up with a fix. Just because they don't have a "fix" now, doesn't mean that they won't have a solution in the future that will alleviate your concern on this.

    Also, not to get too personal (and more for the sake of my personal curiosity), but do you have a sensitive sense of smell anyhow? I know that doesn't really matter, my wife could be a substitute bloodhound I think and she smells things all the time that I can't smell at all.
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  12. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan Administrator Staff Member

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    ... also, just to add one more thought. I would seriously doubt that this would qualify for a lemon-law issue. In order to deal with what would be considered to be a "sensory issue" like smell, you would have to find a testing house that could test particulate matter in the air of the cabin and do a before/after test with the a/c running in fresh air mode, then find some statistical data on what other vehicles of this age and category usually see. It would be a lot of hassle as smell can be very subjective and hard to quantify and qualify as we all know ... bbq steaks smell like heaven to some people and like death to others, etc.
    #12
  13. dock420

    dock420 New Member

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    Steve,
    Thanks for the reply. Yes I bought the car from a Chevrolet dealership here in Texas. I did buy it with a few miles on it, so to answer, yes it was a used vehicle still carrying the remainder of the factory warranty. As far as who else can smell it-everyone that rides in it. The service writer smells it, the tech smells it and even the mechanics in the back. I get what your saying about smell being subjective, however, its subjecting itself all over the interior. As far as masking the smell, its my wifes car. She has the fruity "chick" thingys (not insulting women), and that doesnt help. It just makes it smell like like fruity hot gear oil. Having said all of that, you maybe right as far as this incident not fitting within the scope of the lemon law, I'm simply frustrated at the situation. I do like the design and functionality of the Traverse and feel that it fits the needs of my large family.

    The TSB is 10-01-37-002 DEC 10 A/C - Gear Oil Type Odor in Interior of Vehicle. I typed that into google and have found several other references to this, but am not savvy enough to find the genuine GM bulletin. I can to scan in what the dealer gave me.

    .......and as a side note, now I want a steak.
    #13
  14. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan Administrator Staff Member

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    Ok, that helps break it down. If I'm not mistaken, you are down by Houston, wonder if the heat and nudity of the gulf climate have any effect on what the smell is like.

    I used to have a car that leaked oil all over southern California when i stayed the summer there, but when i went back to Seattle for school, the oil leak stopped in the 30+ degree temp change.

    Let me see if i can get the TSB on this and see what it says. Probably be Monday.
    #14
  15. Timbo55

    Timbo55 New Member

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    2011 smelly Traverse LTZ

    I have this issue also but I do not smell the mystery odor until I am in the process of hauling hiney in order to get up to highway speeds on an entrance ramp or accelerating past a rock hauler.

    From what I have read..this odor may be venting whilst at low speeds or sitting idle but for some reason my Tverse sucks it into the cabin when I jackrabbit.

    Will be going into Classic Chevy in Grapevine Tx in the morning for the recall for the coolant tank seal that just posted and have them look at it. Will give them the info I learned from this forum. Thanks to those who commented.

    As a side. We drove Suburbans for 20 years until the kidos FINALLY grew up and I love my Tverse LTZ. Bought it new in
    Dec 21st 2010 and have racked up a little over 50k with -0- issues other than rotten eggs while launching.

    My last road trip to PA from DFW was spent in relative comfort whilst listening to Killin Lincoln on the CD. I averaged only 24 mph because I was in a hurry.

    Totally awesome vehicle.

    Again, Thanks for all the info!

    Timbo
    Last edited: May 16, 2013
    #15

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