View Full Version : exhaust smell in cab at idle

01-11-2014, 08:36 PM
In the midst of converting a 2006 into a camper van to haul the family around the country. I took it out for the first overnighter and it was a little chilly in the evening so I started it up to get a little heat into it. After about a minute or so I started to smell exhaust coming in from the air vents on the dash. I never get any smell while driving. I didn't know if it could be coming from the back and migrating up to the air intake but I am thinking there is a leak in the exhaust system. Any help would be appreciated.

01-12-2014, 12:26 AM
Do you have an Aux heater installed and turned on? They have an exhaust and muffler in the driver's wheelwell and that could be the source of the exhaust up front.
All of the wiring to the cab goes thru the firewall near the brake pedal, has the grommet that seals the wiring come off?

01-12-2014, 01:29 PM
I do have an aux heater but I'm fairly certain it doesn't work. I will double check though. It seems to be actually coming out of the dash vents.

01-12-2014, 02:56 PM
I get that smell from time to time too. Not quite exhaust, but a sort of "ashy" exhaust smell. Not exactly the smell of regular diesel exhaust. Happens on colder starts.

I was concerned and have double CO monitors in the rv anyway, to guard against generator and cooking CO. The ashy exhaust smell contains less than 10ppm of CO, and lasts only a few mins, so i have decided not to worry about it.

01-12-2014, 03:03 PM
Idling your Sprinter to develop heat is not good for the Sprinter, and also not good for you inside the Sprinter.
Could have been the way the wind was blowing, pushing exhaust fumes under the van from the tailpipe at the right rear
under the van then they were sucked in through the cabin filter by the blower.
If you have the Espar auxiliary heater, and it came on partially, or tried to lite off but didn't, that could be the source of
your diesel smell.
I'd make fixing the Espar heater priority #1 as that is a much better way to heat the cabin of your Sprinter when not
actually moving so the fumes are taken away from your Sprinter by it's forward speed.
Hope this helps,

01-12-2014, 04:48 PM
I guess I actually have the heater booster model and not the aux heater. I know I read about possibly moding it to work as the aux heater and will search for that. Thanks for the info

01-12-2014, 07:56 PM
Exhaust from the diesel heater is 4' from the vent inlet so could be the source, or the wind direction from the tailpipe , or check for Black Death exhaust under the engine cover , or a lose connection at the turbo/exhaust.

01-14-2014, 01:16 PM
Exhaust from the diesel heater is 4' from the vent inlet so could be the source, or the wind direction from the tailpipe , or check for Black Death exhaust under the engine cover , or a lose connection at the turbo/exhaust.

I would agree with the advice to check for black death around the injectors. This was the source of the "exhaust" smell in my cab. I had the exhaust system checked twice and even extended the tail pipe thinking the exhaust was being sucked into the cab somehow. It wasn't, it was black death. If you haven't already you should regularly check for this anyway as it is notoriously common. Mike

01-14-2014, 02:38 PM
Check to see how long your tail pipe is I had to add some to stop the smoke from coming in.

01-15-2014, 01:17 AM
Ill check again for black death. I checked when I purchased- about 1500 miles ago and it was clean. Thanks for the warning.

Im also going to check for an exhaust leak.

01-15-2014, 03:14 PM
Most Sprinters have the exhaust outlet under the van somewhere near the middle of the vehicle. That makes it easy for fumes to get back into the cabin when stopped. I get it on calm days whenever I stop. Extending this to the rear would help, but as several people have pointed out, idling for extended periods is very bad.

02-14-2014, 07:32 PM
I finally got into the exhaust smell and while changing my alternator out I noticed smoke or exhaust coming from my engine area- passenger area. It is very hard to tell exactly where it is coming from but I believe it is coming from the gasket of the exhaust manifold? Or where the exhaust pipe is connected to the backside of the turbo?

Is the manifold gasket a common problem? Any way to diagnose without removing? How difficult is the changing of the gasket?

Also checked for black death and all injectors are clean. And there is soot build up on the rear part of the heat shield leading me to believe it is coming from the rear of the engine or closer to the cab.

02-14-2014, 08:05 PM
It seems to be a big leak - I can hardly stand putting my head under the hood while the engine is running due to the fumes!

08-02-2014, 08:04 AM
What was the final word on your exhaust leak? I think I have similar problem.

going downstairs in a while to do a black death inspection. Let's hope for the best!

11-13-2016, 04:05 AM
An exhaust manifold can leak. I had this happen on my 83 b2200 diesel, and the exhaust manifold gasket fixed the smell in the cab. You may also want to check your fresh air intake weatherstripping, both where it seals the hood to the air box, and the seals on the air box itself. I have this same problem (exhaust smell in vents, 2004 144" om647) and have narrowed it down to this, plus also the EGR exhaust tube can be cracked, or the turbo hoses cracked or clamps loose. I'll post back once I finally figure it out.

Edit: Can't find any leaks. I did notice the foam where you change your air filter, that's all corroded away mostly. I think I'll seal it with silicone caulking whenever I change my air filter.