Say No to Exhaust Fumes

I’ve been having a problem with Sharka for a while. When I cruise around with the windows about half open between about 40 and 60 mph, a lot of exhaust smell gets into the cabin. It wasn’t great. With the windows down or up there was no problem. But cracked to half way? Ugh. Bad smells.

No good when you wanna cruise mountain roads with your little girl.

And to spoil it…

There's the problem.

There’s the problem.

Sharka’s awesome tail lights were the problem. Or at least I thought they were. Internet research unveiled that leaks around lights or in the trunk could cause this problem.

Lots of open space between the bodywork and lights.

Lots of open space between the bodywork and lights.

A quick inspection revealed a ton of openings in the trunk. There were gaps around both tail lights, some small holes behind the fabric on the back wall, and a few others.

But the tail lights were the worst offenders. Lots of empty space.

Of course, I wanted to verify this.

Yes, that's a smoke machine.

Yes, that’s a smoke machine.

The sucking rig.

The sucking rig.

What better way to verify induction from the trunk to the interior than with an overly elaborate rig? I mean, exhaust could have been coming in somewhere else, right? From the engine bay or transmission tunnel.

And I got a smoke machine! I’m sure that’ll be fun for toy photos and other things.

Smoke blowing.

Smoke blowing.

Smokey interior.

Smokey interior.

It’s hard to see in the photo, but there was quite a lot of smoke in the interior. It was indeed coming in from the trunk.

Having the machine on the ground didn’t really work. I got much better smoke induction by hand holding the machine and spraying smoke around the tail lights. The interior got filled quickly doing that.

I also smoked under the car and in the engine bay. No smoke induction. Yay!

The fix.

The fix.

Tape. That’s what I did. It’s pretty ghetto, but it’s in an area that’s nearly impossible to see. And it solved the problem…

… for months. Yes, I did this all back in January. I just never blogged about it. It was a ghetto fix without a snazzy outcome, so I managed to forget about it. But it was nice to be able to cruise without exhaust fumes in the cabin.

Fast forward to a few days ago and a set of these Garage Vary covers appeared on

Such JDM

Such JDM

Very Garage.

Very Garage.

These came with “later” Garage Vary tail light kits. Sharka has an “early” one. I use quotes because they’d been making them for years and years before I purchased. Not sure when the covers appeared, but it was after Sharka got his new ass.

I never thought much of these panels or tried to get them. I thought they were just to finish the look, but now I know a bit more thanks to my smoke machine experiments.

I believe these are meant to seal out exhaust gases.

Some quick black paint...

Some quick black paint…

BOOM! Sealed off.

BOOM! Sealed off.

I admit, I removed my duct tape job. But I put a fresh one right back on. I worked slowly and carefully to get a nice seal around the tail lights using as little tape as possible so that the covers would still fit.

And fit they do. They really do finish things off nicely. AND they protect the tape and help seal out fumes from the rear. Win all around!

No more exhaust fumes for us.

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  • Mark says:

    Hey Adam,
    So when you used your new covers, you used duct tape again as a seal? Is there some other kind of sealant where you could run a bead or gasket material that could be used?

  • Kyle says:

    I never noticed exhaust fumes getting into my car but I did notice how my trunk got flooded with water just days after installing the GV tails. This was back before installation instructions or online tutorials existed and you had to guess how everything went together. I didn’t think about weather seal until everything got soaked. I ended up using a flexible plumbers putty to seal the fiberglass plates to the body and to seal the lights to the fiberglass plates. It’s held up great for the past 10 years.

  • Chris says:

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for another set of those covers. I can only drive with the windows down, which limits my driving to only dry, sunny days. I wonder how well those thin, peel-n-stick foam seals would work? Might be a better alternative to the tape.

  • Brad says:

    I’ll admit, my car is held together by more zip ties and gorilla tape than I care to confess. I can imagine that gorilla tape would do a nice job sealing out whatever you don’t want coming in. It has held my intercooler duct on despite 130+ mph wind getting shoved into it… surely it could seal tail lights?

    I’m not sure what exact material they used, but I once helped a friend part out a Z31 300ZX. Those tail lights had some sort of black epoxy all the way around them, and it WORKED. So much so that the stuff would stick to your fingers for quite some time after removal… wish I knew what they had used.

    • revlimiter says:

      The one drawback of silicone or epoxy is removing the tail light ever. I think I have to do that in order to change the bulbs.

      I probably shouldn’t have admitted to duct tape. haha

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