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Auto Repair: Troubleshooting Strange Smells

One of the most imminent signs of trouble when driving a car can be detected with your nose. Odd smells could be a sign that you are in need of auto repair.

One of your most imminent signs of trouble when driving a car can be detected with your nose. Generally speaking, smells when driving should come from one of three places: that beloved new car scent, air fresheners or other items you've put in the vehicle (such as fast food), or from the outside (such as when you drive by an orange grove). Other than that, you should not smell anything strange. If you do, it could be a sign that you're in need of auto repair. Don't ignore strange smells. They could be a sign of something seriously wrong. Here are some of the most common and what they can mean.

Burning Rubber

A burnt rubber smell could come from one of two places: under the hood or under the vehicle. If it's coming from under the vehicle, it's almost certainly an issue with your wheels. Touch them and see if they are hot. If so, it could mean your brake pads are not releasing fully when you take your foot off the pedal. It could also be a sign that your clutch is going out. If the smell is coming from under the hood, it could mean one of your hoses has come loose and is touching the hot parts of the engine. Try to rescue it before the hot engine can melt it, but be careful with your own skin!

Burning Oil

Burning oil has a distinct, acrid smell and should not be ignored. This can sometimes occur due to careless filling. If you've recently put new oil in your car and accidentally spilled a little, there's probably nothing to worry about. If this isn't the case, check your oil. If low, this could be the reason. You may want to take a look around the engine to see if you can find signs of an oil leak or take it to an auto repair shop that can do it for you. If you can't find anything amiss, you can check the transmission fluid level. If that's burning off, it could give off a similar smell.


Did you recently have trouble starting the car? The sudden smell of gasoline could mean you accidentally flooded the engine. Wait a few minutes and try again, at which point the car may turn over. If the smell is originating from under the hood, it could be a problem with your fuel injection. Take it to a good mechanic and have him take a look at the problem. Don't continue to drive a car with the smell of gasoline permeating the air, as these vapors can be highly dangerous for a number of reasons.

Article Tags: Auto Repair, Strange Smells, From Under, Could Mean

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