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7 Car Smells You Shouldn’t Ignore

Tuesday, August 8 2017 11:38 AM
By 360 Administrator
7 Car Smells You Shouldn’t Ignore

Where is that awful smell coming from?” you ask yourself as you turn your car inside-out searching for the stinky culprit. After uncovering a couple stray french fries and an old gym towel, you begin to wonder if perhaps this smell might be coming from the car itself.

Certain smells emanating from your automobile could very-well be indicative of a mechanical malfunction. Recognizing what it smells like and what area of your car it’s coming from can help you resolve the issue before it becomes a major problem. Here are 7 car smells you shouldn’t ignore.


1. Rotten Eggs

Typically this odor is a result from damage to the catalytic converter. If the catalytic converter becomes clogged, it will fail to convert the hydrogen sulfide (found in exhaust from small amounts of sulfur in gasoline) to sulfur dioxide.

What to do: Schedule an inspection as early as possible - cat converters can be costly to replace.


2. Burning Carpet

This smell is a common result of overheating brakes. If you notice this odor after riding your brakes for a while (from descending a mountain, for example), don’t worry too much about it. But if you’ve been driving under normal conditions, you may have a seized caliper or parking brake engaged.

What to do: Check to make sure your parking brake is released properly. If it is, have your brakes checked out immediately. Brake malfunctions are extremely hazardous.


3. Sweet Syrup

Engine coolant contains ethylene glycol, which smells sweet and is very toxic. Catching a whiff of this sweetness generally means you’re leaking coolant from the radiator, cylinder head, manifold gasket, hose, or even a loose radiator cap.

What to do: Check for green or orange fluid under your car and try to track back to the source of the leak. A cracked radiator, gasket, or hose will need to be replaced. If the source is a loose radiator cap, wait until the engine has completely cooled and tighten it down.


4. Burning Rubber

A burnt rubber smell most likely is a result of slipping drive belts, or even loose hoses rubbing on other engine components.

What to do: Once your engine has completely cooled, hand-check all belts for slack and all hoses for rubbing.


5. Hot Oil

This distinctive smell may mean that you have an oil leak and it’s burning off of the engine block or exhaust system.

What to do: Check for oil spots under your vehicle or for white smoke coming from the engine bay while the engine is running (the oil could burn off completely without reaching the ground). Be sure to regularly monitor your engine’s oil level to prevent running dry.


6. Gasoline

By now most of us are familiar with the smell of gasoline. If you smell gas coming from your vehicle (and you’re not at the pump filling up), you likely have a leak from the fuel injector, fuel filter, or fuel tank.

What to do: Schedule an appointment immediately - all fuel leaks are potential fire hazards.


7. Gym Locker

You tossed out that old gym towel but the stink remains? Chances are your air conditioner evaporator has some mildew from excessive moisture. Fortunately, this is only hazardous to your nostrils and not your car’s mechanics.

What to do: For a quick fix, run the fan on high with the A/C off for a few minutes to dry it out. You might go ahead and replace the cabin filter while you’re at it.

Recognize any of these smells in your car and can’t pinpoint the issue? Have you sniffed out a different odor not mentioned? Let our certified technicians have a whiff and we’ll get you back on the road!