High Engine Temperature/Fishy Smell

Posted by FDMatt, May 17, 2012
Maintenance & Repairs - Oil choices, timing belt, setting timing, CV boot replacement, alternator servicing, fuse/relay checks, and other basic maintenance, repair and diagnosis discussions.

  1. FDMatt

    FDMatt Probationary Member

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    Boston, Massachusetts
    Hi guys, new to the DSM game just picked up a 97' TSI AWD A/T a couple months and I've been loving it so far. Over last weekend I brought the car into a buddy's shop to have the serpentine belt replaced, oil change, tires etc. just some stuff I'd been meaning to do. But driving it the next day I realized the needle was literally through the roof of the engine temp gauge and maybe I'm crazy but I can swear I smell like a rotten fish smell at points.

    Maybe I'm just being paranoid because I did search for the fishy smell and read up on some ECU stuff but there weren't really any mentions of high temps. So far she's still running fine, doesn't feel sluggish or anything but I figured I might as well see if anybody has an idea. Thanks!
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  2. eclipse420ags

    eclipse420ags Proven Member

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    Martinez, Georgia
    Have you washed the undercarriage lately haha sorry I couldnt resist. Seriously tho its got enough coolant right? You probably shouldnt drive it anymore till you figure it out.
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  3. 1996dsm

    1996dsm Proven Member

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    Fort Worth, Texas
    We had a similar issue with a 07 tundra. You drove it hard and if reeked! Of fish. We never found out why but i know how hard it is to try to pinpoint. Although ours didnt run hot.
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  4. dexterholland04

    dexterholland04 Supporting Vendor

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    Rome, New_York
    Change your thermostat, get your cooling system flushed. Inspect your radiator and replace it as necessary. Do a compression/leakdown test. If that doesn't solve it, then you're looking at a bad water pump and/or head gasket.

    If you continue to drive the car like this, you'll more than likely warp the head. You don't want that...trust me.
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  5. garrettgoines

    garrettgoines Proven Member

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    Nederland, Texas
    I would drain the coolant, take out the thermostat and replace the coolant with water (flush the coolant system in this process). Drive it, if all is well its your thermostat or coolant, a quick and easy fix. If its still overheating its probabally your water pump or head gasket. If its not the pump/gasket its got coolant passageways that are too corroded and the engine will have to be pulled.
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  6. faultywarrior

    faultywarrior Probationary Member

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    Burlington, Connecticut
    The dead fish smell could be the cat just getting VERY hot. Mine does this all the time if I romp on it, esp. flooring it up a hill or something that puts the engine under heavy load. (Big boost with a stock cat doesn't work so well...)

    Something like this sounds likely in your case, esp. with your CLT temps being through the roof.

    Make sure there are no leaks in the system and you have enough coolant. If that's good, then my guess is your thermostat is jammed shut. Good test for this? Feel the upper rad hose when the engine is warm/hot. If the hose is cold, your 'stat is shut and needs to be replaced. For that matter, if you just got this car, replace it anyways...they're like $20 IIRC and when something like your engine's life is on the line, it's best to just do it.

    EDIT:
    Looks like others beat me to it while I was writing this post. ;)
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  7. chadillac2820

    chadillac2820 Proven Member

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    newnan, Georgia
    The fish smell is coolant. It ran hot and coolant went into the reservoir and possibly overfilled it. Replace the t stat, male sure your water pump isn't leaking, and make sure your cooling fans are operational.
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  8. RacintheReaper

    RacintheReaper Proven Member

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    New Boston, Ohio
    Teach you to fill your radiator with river water LOL. All joking aside sounds like your t-stat but i would go ahead and change your temp sensor while your at it. Any steam rolling out from under the hood at all?
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