Saved By The Smell | Common Odors That Mean Our Car Is Trying To Tell Us Something

Saved By The Smell | Common Odors That Mean Our Car Is Trying To Tell Us Something

This maintenance tip comes from our friends at Eckler's Corvette.

We've all been there. Maybe it just started on your drive home from work today, or maybe you've smelled it for months and have ignored it by adding one more air freshener to your car. Whatever it is, it stinks; and it might just be that your car is telling you something important. Whether it's coming from your engine, from your vents, or from an undetermined location, some of the smells on this list should be investigated by a factory-trained technician sooner rather than later.

Here are eight common car odors to be aware of, arranged by Eckler's Corvette.

1. Moldy Dust

Does your car smell of mildew? It could mean that mold has grown inside the of your vehicle's air conditioning evaporator. A simple cabin air filter replacement could solve this problem if not left to its own devices for too long. On most vehicles, an air cabin filter should be replaced approximately every 15,000 and 30,000 miles. If you are experiencing a similar unpleasant odor coming from your vehicle's AC system, talk to a Lester Glenn service advisor. They will be happy to check if your car is due for a cabin air filter replacement and help you locate the source of this odor. A clean cabin air filter will also any reduction in air flow while using the AC system.

2. Sweet And Syrupy

If the smell you're smelling is sweet and syrupy, it may not mean that you just drove past a bakery or your favorite local breakfast spot. It could be engine coolant leaking from the radiator, hose, or another component of your cooling system. Coolant leaks are not to be trifled with as your vehicle's cooling system has a very important job to do; keep your engine cool. Even a small leak may cause your engine to overheat, which can cause very costly or even irreparable damage to your engine. If you're smelling this smell, best to stop driving and take your vehicle to a professional.

3. Sulfur/Rotten Eggs

A smell of rotten eggs could come from a couple of different places and for a few different reasons. If happening while you accelerate, it could be due to poor engine performance, in which your vehicle's catalytic converter is having trouble converting hydrogen sulfide in the exhaust to sulfur dioxide. Continued driving could lead to a failed catalytic converter. Another reason could be a problem stemming from the car's battery, when a battery charge is in use. This is not a smell that should be occurring and therefore should be checked by a professional as soon as possible.

4. Gasoline

Your vehicle might smell like gasoline due to a gas leak occurring from your fuel tank or a fuel injector line. This is a SERIOUS concern and should be investigated by a professional immediately as this is a potential fire hazard. 

5. Burned Carpet

A burned carpet smell could be an indication of a brake problem. This is another smell that falls into a truly serious category where you should have a professional look at your vehicle immediately.

6. Burning Newspaper

Who reads the newspaper anymore? Hopefully you do so you know what this smell actually smells like. Similar to setting an old newspaper on fire, this smell is usually the result of friction material being burned off when your clutch starts to fail and slip. You might be tired of us saying this, but consult a professional when this smell starts to occur.

7. Burning Rubber

There's a few places this smell can originate from, but typically it is the result of moving parts. If a hose or belt slips out of place, the friction caused by the part rubbing against other moving parts can cause this smell, such as drive pulleys. Pop the hood and see if there's anything visually out of place - just remember not to touch anything underneath the hood - especially after just driving as many of the parts that were just in motion to power your vehicle will be very hot to the touch. 

8. Hot Motor Oil

The smell of burning oil most likely means that oil has leaked onto your vehicle's exhaust system. There might be smoke that comes from your engine and/or oil stains appearing underneath your vehicle. If left ignored, whatever is causing this smell can cause major and costly problems to your vehicle. Whether it's a valve that needs replacement, an oil change that needs to be completed, or something more complicated, a professional will be able to assist diagnose and repair.

A good rule of thumb is if you smell something, say something. If that smell is lasting longer than just a passing moment and is coming from your vehicle, don't wait. The longer you wait, the more complicated a problem it can become, and a more costly repair for you as a result. The service team at Lester Glenn Mazda is here to help with any questions you have, as well as to help diagnose where the smell is coming from and why it's happening. Keeping you safe on the road is our number one priority here at Lester Glenn Mazda. However we can help, we are here to do so.

Thank you to Eckler's Corvette for providing this great content. We enjoyed it and we hope you did too. Check them out by visiting: