Does Your Car Smell? Diagnosing Car Odors & Possible Sources

You probably know your car should not emit strange smells. But you may not know how to decipher smells to find out the source. The following guide will help you diagnose smells so that you know what to say to your auto care specialist. 

The Burned Rubber Smell

This may be the simplest smell to diagnose. Your car only has a few things that would smell like burned rubber and that is your tires or hoses. Stop your car, and lift up your hood. See if you see a hose smoking. If you see one, try to carefully stop the hose from touching any of the hot compartments. The hose has probably come loose due to a clamp falling off or breaking. Let the vehicle cool down before you keep going because the hose will touch those hot compartments as you drive. Remember that the damage to the hose will need to be taken care of, or you could be in danger of losing a lot of important fluids depending on which hose was affected. 

The problem could also be a leak of synthetic oil from your valve cover (by the cylinder head). It leaks onto your exhaust manifold, causing a burned smell. You can find this location in your owner's manual. But this is only true for vehicles that use synthetic oil.

You can also check your tires to see if the smell is coming from one of them. Touch all of your tires to see if one feels hotter than the others. You might have left your emergency brake on, which can cause your brake pads to drag.

Sweet Or Steamy Smell

This type of smell is usually associated with an overheating radiator. You need to stop your vehicle, and see if you have enough coolant in your radiator. Add coolant or water if you need to.

You may have a leak in your radiator system or hoses if you see that you have enough coolant. You can buy a stop-leak solution specific to your radiator that you can purchase at a local auto parts store. A stop-leak is a temporary solution, so it's best for you to get this issue fixed. Be sure to let your engine cool down, and slowly drive your vehicle to your auto care specialist. You should also turn on your heater, as this will decrease some of the heat.

Stop the vehicle if the problem persists because the problem may be serious, and you could even blow a gasket. Call an auto care specialist, such as Tate's Automotive, for further assistance.

Additional Smells

Other smells to look out for:

  1. Rotten eggs: This smell is usually associated with your catalytic converter, which is responsible for proper exhaust functions.
  2. Toasty smell: You may have wires burning. This is a dangerous problem, as it could create sparks.
  3. Oil burning: Check to see if you are driving with low transmission fluid or oil. Add more oil if you need it. You should also check if you have any fluid leaks, like oil or transmission under your car, as those can cause overheating issues as well. Fix any leaks should you notice them.
  4. Gasoline smell: The problem may be your fuel injector system or carburetor if the smell is coming from under the hood. If the smell is closer to your gas tank, then you may have a bad fuel pump or a ruptured fuel line.

Knowing about the possible sources should help you when you finally talk to your auto care specialist.