How Bad Might This Be? - Smoke and Burning Smell In Rear Wheelwell

Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Messages
40
Hi All,

I recently returned from a 6 day deployment to the Gulf Coast with my volunteer search and rescue team (Texas Search and Rescue - TEXSAR), and have discovered smoke and a burning smell now coming out of the rear driver-side wheel area after driving. We deployed to Corpus Christi the day Harvey landed, and worked our way inland to hard hit areas (Aransas Pass, Dickinson, Friendswood) after that, so needless to say, I've been driving through high water on the regular as of late. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it, but I didn't notice it happening before then.

Unfortunately I'm about as ignorant as they come mechanic-wise, which is something I definitely need to work on correcting. A bit of searching seems to indicate that maybe the parking brake might be sticking (although I never used it), the brake pads rubbing, or perhaps a bearing issue?

What do you guys think? I really can't afford a big repair bill at the shop right now, so I'm hoping this could be something I can troubleshoot, and maybe even fix, with the help of this fine community!

- D
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2013
Messages
434
Location
Salt Lake City, UT
Most likely you have a blown rear seal which is leaking onto your hot brakes, and smoking. Doing a rear bearing and seal job is pretty easy. Autozone has the puller and the race tools you can rent for free. A couple youtube `how to` videos and youll be set. I got a way better deal from @cruiseroutfit than my local toyota dealership.
 

cruiseroutfit

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Joined
Jan 9, 2003
Messages
9,144
Location
Utah
We would love to help, particularly given your service. Find out what's going on in there and we can helps with the parts to fix!

At this point I'd start by getting it opened up. Brake damage is going to be very evident, as is wheel seal our inner axle seal failure.
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2009
Messages
5,320
Location
flat earth Midwest
If it's an electrical burning smell, there's a bunch of circuits that run back there and branch off to various places in the back rear corner of the driver's side of the truck jjust behind that wheelwell. If you've noticed no blown fuses, circuit breakers, or other glitches, then probably mechanical.
 
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Messages
6,660
Location
Olathe, KS, USA
If you've been driving through deep water and you do not have your axle vents high enough, you MAY have water inside your rear axle. Now that it's out and it heats up, it can push water/oil out the seals and possibly get on the brakes or sling up to the exhaust and burn there.

It's also possible that it's just debris on your exhaust from the deep water and it's finally getting hot enough to cook it off and it smells like burnt hair.
 
Joined
Jun 5, 2017
Messages
529
Location
Winnipeg
First off thanks for your service to those affected by what is truly a s*** storm pardon my French. After checking for snake n gators caught up in exhaust/ crawfish in heat shield etc. jack up the rear wheels( on stands) and try to rotate them and listen for sounds of dragging brakes. Is the center hub getting hot? Like spit sizzles? Does the wheel get hot?
 
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
1,668
Location
Jersey, 07740
hub and wheel will get hot from heat transfer form the brakes but it shouldnt be that hot. are you hearing and humming noise while driving, could be a wheel bearing. is the same thing happening to the other side, you could compare side to side and see if theres anything obvously different. are you able to post up any pics of the problem wheel?
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Messages
40
Thanks for all the replies and helpful advice so far! When it was smoking it looked to mostly be coming from around the rear driver side wheel. I walked around to the passenger side and saw a little smoke as well, but I think it was just wafting over from the opposite side. I'll look to see if I notice any mud or other junk stuck under there somewhere, or oil splatter. I'll try to get some pics up for you guys as well.
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Messages
40
Update - Apparently it's the wheel seal leaking. We got called by Florida to possibly deploy for Hurricane Irma, so I swung by Cruiser Specialists here in Austin and they were kind enough to give it a quick look for me. They can fix it fast, but unfortunately I can't afford it right now so it'll have to wait a bit. I'll just hitch a ride with a team member this time around.

Thanks again for all the replies and advice!

Oh yeah, hurricanes can suck it!
 
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