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November 13, 2013

Does Your Car Smell Funny? Here’s What Those Odors Could Mean

AskPatty-Car_Care_Council-6_Warning_Smells-Infographic_smal-leadThe nose knows when something isn’t quite right: the Car Care Council shared this educational infographic which easily outlines six car smells that could mean trouble for your vehicle to help drivers sniff out when something may be wrong with their car.

We all love basking in that “new car smell,” but there are other odors we should never ignore. Identifying these suspicious smells early on can help car owners avoid the hassle and expense of an unexpected breakdown, says the Car Care Council.

The Car Care Council provides tips like these as part of its free “Be Car Care Aware” education campaign to consumers to help reinforce the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance, and repair.

“When you smell any peculiar odor, you should not ignore it. Instead bring your vehicle to a professional service technician that you trust to get an informed opinion on the nature of the odor,” says Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.


Car_Care_Council-6_Warning_Smells-InfographicThe Car Care Council recommends a sniff test of your vehicle to identify any unusual smells, including the following six warning signs:

1.  The smell of burnt rubber could be slipping drive belts or misplaced loose hoses that might be rubbing against rotating accessory drive pulleys. Careful: Do not reach in if the engine compartment is hot.

2.  The smell of hot oil could mean that oil is leaking onto the exhaust system. To verify the leak, look for oil on the pavement or smoke coming from the engine area.

3.  The smell of gasoline is likely the sign of a gas leak in some area of the vehicle such as a fuel injector line or the fuel tank. Any smell of fuel can result in a possible fire hazard, so immediate attention should be given.

4.  The sweet smell of syrup may be a sign that your car is leaking engine coolant from a leaky component related to the car’s cooling system. Do not open the radiator cap when it is hot.

5.  The smell of burning carpet could be a sign of brake trouble and a safety hazard. Have your brakes checked right away, especially if this smell is happening during normal driving conditions.

6.  The smell of rotten eggs is never a good one and, if you smell it coming from your vehicle, it could mean a problem with your catalytic converter not converting the hydrogen sulfide in the exhaust to sulfur dioxide properly. This smell can also be attributed to a poor running engine, causing the catalytic converter to become overloaded and fail due to meltdown.


Once you know what a smell may be, don’t delay in fixing it to ensure you are safe on the road! If you need a local mechanic to help with identifying a car smell, try their Find A Shop feature for a fast fix.

Be_car_care_aware-Car_Care_Council_logo “Unusual smells can be the sign of serious, and potentially costly, trouble for your vehicle. By acting quickly and making necessary repairs, you’ll be able to breathe easy knowing there is no harmful damage to your car,” White concludes.


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