Strange Smells: Car Odors Worthy of Concern

Sniff, sniff. Notice a funny smell coming from your car’s vents? It might be time for a trip into your local mechanic.

Most of the time, warning signs come from a malfunctioning engine or a strange sound. However, strange smells are also a common first sign of trouble.

Car odors are more than just a nuisance. They’re worthy of your concern. These smells are a signal to something going wrong with your engine. Ignoring them could cause more damage to your car. Here are some of the most common car smells you could encounter and what they indicate.

1. A Burnt Smell

Burnt smells are always troublesome. Most of the time, burnt smells are more pronounced when you hit your brakes or change gears (if you have a manual transmission).

If you start to smell something burnt, make sure your car’s emergency brake is not engaged. You’ll also want to make sure you have your foot completely off the clutch so you’re not riding it while you drive.

If you still smell a burnt odor, there could be a few things happening:

  1. Your brake material has been burnt to the point it needs repair;
  2. Your clutch is slipping or worn out and needs to be fixed.

2. A Sweet Smell

Sweet smells are usually associated with donuts or cake. They don’t often trigger a premonition that something is about to go wrong. However, if you smell something sweet coming from your car’s engine, you might want to take a second look.

Antifreeze has a sweet odor to it. When a sweet smell wafts through your vents, chances are you’re smelling this essential fluid radiating from the heater. In extreme cases you’ll also see a film form on the inside of your car (especially when the heater is on) or the liquid leak onto the floorboards. This is dangerous and must be fixed before the problem gets worse.

3. A Mildew Smell

Arizona is dry. Mildew isn’t a common smell around the house or in the car. If you do smell it, there’s a small chance you just have a leaky door or window that got pounded by a wild monsoon. Most likely, the smell is coming from your air conditioner evaporator.

4. A Rotten Egg Smell

The smell of rotten eggs is hard to miss. Sulfur odors emitting from your engine signal potentially harmful gasses leaking out of your catalytic converter. To stop the stench, you’ll need to replace your catalytic converter and repair whatever caused it to go wrong. Sometimes, they’ll wear out on their own. Other times, something triggered it to fail. Your mechanic will look into the cause of it so you’re not stuck replacing these converters time and time again.

5. A Smell of Gas

Gas has a distinct smell. Unless you were just at the pump and only smell a slight odor of gas, you must not, under any circumstances, ignore this potentially harmful smell in your car.

If you’re overwhelmed by a gas odor, there are many reasons for what went wrong. From leaky fuel lines to bad fuel pressure regulators and plenty of other issues in between, one thing is certain – if the problem is dumping gas into your engine and causing the smell, it must be addressed.

Smelling Something Foul in Your Car?

It could be your child’s bottle that rolled under the seat last week, or it could be something potentially dangerous. Bring your car into us to track down the source of the smell before you’re left with potentially large repairs.

Stop in anytime or give us a call. No appointment needed!

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