checking oil levelOne day, you notice a burning smell while driving your car. Perhaps it’s joined by heat or smoke coming from under the hood. A “burning smell” from your vehicle can mean a host of different things, all varying in severity.

Burning Rubber

If it’s coming from under the hood, one of your car’s hoses or belts could have detached and is now resting on a hotter part of the engine. Once you notice this, try to save the hose or replace the belt as soon as you can.

Burning rubber might be coming from your wheels. If one feels hot, a brake pad or shoe might have been dragging on the ground. Or if you drive a manual car, you could be dealing with an overheating clutch.

If it’s your wheels, think if you have been pressing hard on your brake or driving uphill often. If not, your car’s caliper piston may be broken or you could have been driving with the parking brake on.

Sometimes, that “rubber” scent involves the coolant, which could be leaking into your heating or air conditioning system. At this point, check the cooler for any cracks, no matter how small.

Burning Oil

Once you notice this scent, check the dipstick as your car could be low on oil or your engine is overheating and the temperature gauge is showing an incorrect reading. If these all check out, you have two options: Look for leaking oil or check your transmission fluid.

With oil leaks, yours could involve the engine block or a faulty exhaust pipe. If exhaust is being diverted into the cabin, you could be breathing in carbon monoxide and need to get the issue looked at right away. If it’s your transmission, the vacuum modulator might have taken in some fluid and fed it to the engine.

It’s Sweet

Once you notice this scent, which is often described as smelling like maple syrup, your car’s engine could be overheating. Your temperature gauge or light should indicate the issue but if not, this part may be broken.

Rotten Eggs

This distinctive scent often indicates one primary issue: Your catalytic converter (part of the exhaust system) is having issues. At this point, the part itself may be malfunctioning or your engine may have a larger issue.

Burnt Toast

Once you notice this scent, there’s a chance your car is having electrical issues – a short circuit or burning insulation around a wire. Driving might worsen the problem, so consider getting roadside assistance.

Burning Plastic

This scent also indicates an electrical issue in the engine, as the coating around the wires, fuses or other connecting points might be burning. Yet, plastic quite literally could be that: A plastic bag or similar debris getting stuck in the engine. It could also indicate an issue with your heater:

  • Dust accumulation, especially if you haven’t used it in months
  • Clogged vent
  • Antifreeze leaking into the vent
  • Part of the heater might have melted

You Smell Gasoline

Does your car have trouble starting? If you’re experiencing this issue and smelling gasoline, you could be dealing with a flooded engine. The smell could also be due to leaking fuel from the injection system, carburetor or fuel pump.
In all cases, whether you can pinpoint the cause or not, have DaSilva’s team diagnose the issue before performing any necessary repairs. To get started, give us a call today.