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Old 04-23-2010, 01:56 AM   #1
yall
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car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

Hey, been a member of this forum for awhile now, and have found most, if not all of my questions answered in the search function, which is sweet. This is one I can't find the answer too. I have an oldsmobile Intrigue, 2001, which has caused very little problems in the past. It does have a new alternator that was replaced a few years back. A new battery around the same time, but that is about all the changes it has had.

Wife called me tonight, "Car is dead, come get me." I have noticed for the past few months, that the car has a tough time starting at times, as if the battery isn't holding its own. I have run it out a few times by leaving the lights on for ~5 minutes. So the battery is weak, I know. It didn't surprise me when she called - kinda expecting it for awhile. Maybe I should have replaced it earlier, but hindsight is 20/20 eh?

I get there and the lights in the car are very dim, and notice a strange smell, a rotten egg smell. (My wife was with another lady and I thought one of them had passed gas, so I kept my mouth shut, because I didn't want to embarrass them). I open the hood, and yup, the smell was from the car. After searching online, it was more than likely the battery. My wife and her friend didn't notice the smell till after they got in and tried to start the car a few times. We have never had the smell before.

I hook up the jumper cables, and the horn goes off, and realize later after scouring the internet that is common occurence - not worried about that anymore.

But the strangest thing happens, once the key is removed from the car, a noise comes from the front of the engine - and it only occurs once the key is REMOVED from the ignition. If the key is inserted, then the noise subsides. So key ON - no noise, key OFF - noise. What would cause the noise coming from the front of the engine, when the key is removed. It sounds mechanical in nature, as if something is turning (alternator?????) or something is trying to work, but can't. I am trying to get a differential diagnosis here as to what sounds could be coming from the front of the engine the AC - it was off, the fan was not turning, the alternator. What else could be causing this? It was dark, so I couldn't really see anything turning, per se.

It is late and I am going to bed, and I won't have time to work on it till tomorrow afternoon after work, so I was looking for some hints and some help as to what is going on before I tackle this thing. Here is what I am thinking, battery is shot and I am going to start by replacing it and see what happens from there. I am going to get a cheap meter to check my voltage of my alternator as to why it would fry my battery. I hope this solves my issues and I can stop worrying about fixing anything else. If it something more, what could it be?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 04-23-2010, 04:25 AM   #2
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

How bizarre. Without know hearing it for myself, it's pretty difficult to diagnose... The only thing I can think of are the radiator fans, but those should never turn with the key off.

How long does this last after the key is removed?
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:01 AM   #3
yall
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

Yes it is bizarre.

The sound didn't stop once the key was inserted. I left the car, but didn't want the sound to continue. So I unplugged a batery terminal. But the batery was dead? The lights were very dim. I dunno.
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:16 AM   #4
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

The radiator fans will turn with the key off if the engine is too hot, Ive personally experienced it a time or two, and theres a reason why the warning label for them says "fans may run even if engine is off" or something along those lines.

But with that said, it is weird that they would stop and start with inserting the key.

Another thing that makes a rotten egg smell is a clogged catalytic converter, which could very well make the engine overheat...you might look into that.
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Old 04-23-2010, 12:08 PM   #5
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

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Originally Posted by yall View Post
But the strangest thing happens, once the key is removed from the car, a noise comes from the front of the engine - and it only occurs once the key is REMOVED from the ignition. If the key is inserted, then the noise subsides. So key ON - no noise, key OFF - noise. What would cause the noise coming from the front of the engine, when the key is removed. It sounds mechanical in nature, as if something is turning (alternator?????) or something is trying to work, but can't.
Is it bone stock? Does it have an alarm or remote starter? ANY changes to the underhood wiring? Those are first suspects.

Second the radiator cooling fans as a suspect.

Third, if you have a AIR pump, it might be shorting out and running. Not sure I have read about that happening, but might give you the same noise.

Keep us posted!
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:35 PM   #6
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

This just happened to my friends car and my lawn tractor not so long ago. The rotten egg smell is the battery. I guess that can happen when its been frequently overcharged or when they are old and cannot support the charge. So i'd start with your alternator and battery. Both of those fixed my friends toyota and a new battery fixed the tractor the reason why the tractor battery got like that is because it was old and sat on the charger all winter. I highly recommend not parking your car in an attached garage. My house smelt for days. Hope this helps
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:39 PM   #7
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

I would also check under and around the battery for acid leak. The same friends battery had actually done that twice. The first time because his battery cracked and leaked acid all over his wire harness. Just check to make sure the acid hasnt eaten through any wires and is causing a short. If it has replace or dump either vinegar or baking soda where the acid was to keep it from corroding further. If it is your battery/alternator, but to me that sounds like whats going on.
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:17 PM   #8
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

You could have a bad ignition switch if stuff turns on after you remove the key. That would also cause a battery to get weak for starting but the car would have to sit awhile.
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Old 04-26-2010, 01:52 AM   #9
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

Thanks to everyone for your help. This is what I found.

I replaced the battery as explained and it fixed everything, except what I thought to be the easiest part, turned out to be my biggest problem.

I hooked the battery back up using the old battery and the sound returned from the front of the car. I didn't even want to find out what it was, so I just replaced the battery and the sound went away and the car works fine now, EXCEPT the horn.

When I hooked the battery up, the horn went crazy. I found the fuse for the horn and took it out. I drove to a remote area, where I could play around the key fob and the horn. I replaced the fuse and tried the fob, and it failed to turn off the horn.

So, now I am stuck without a horn (but a car that works - so I am happy about that - VERY HAPPY!!). So what do I do about the horn. I tried some searches and came up empty. I am hoping someone here has an answer for me.

Thanks.

And the smell was definitely the battery -- just like rotten eggs. ummm, umm good!

EDIT: the electrical is bone stock. No add-on remote starters or alarm systems.

Last edited by yall; 04-26-2010 at 01:53 AM. Reason: more info
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Old 04-26-2010, 06:46 AM   #10
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

Quote:
Originally Posted by yall View Post
So, now I am stuck without a horn (but a car that works - so I am happy about that - VERY HAPPY!!). So what do I do about the horn. I tried some searches and came up empty. I am hoping someone here has an answer for me.

Thanks.

And the smell was definitely the battery -- just like rotten eggs. ummm, umm good!

EDIT: the electrical is bone stock. No add-on remote starters or alarm systems.
Well, sounds like a horn relay. You don't have blown airbags, do you? Has it ever been wrecked? If the bags blew, that can fry contacts in the steering wheel for the horn.
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Old 04-26-2010, 07:14 PM   #11
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

Did you look around for acid leaks?
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:11 PM   #12
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Re: car dead rotten egg smell, strange noise

horn: check the relay as mentioned. i had this problem on an 1990 olds 98 several years ago. the problem was a warped horn pad.
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