Ask a Technician: Should I be worried about this smell in my car?

Q. What kinds of smells do I need to worry about if they’re coming from my car?

A. Putting aside last week’s half-eaten Filet-o-Fish sandwich, there are a few smells you should pay attention to.


Exhaust fumes –
One of the most dangerous odors you can smell inside a car is exhaust. It means that your exhaust system is leaking. Mixed in with the stinky exhaust is completely odorless carbon monoxide. You can’t smell it, but it can kill you. You’ll get woozy and before you know it, you’re done. Fix any exhaust leak as soon as possible and keep the windows down until you do.

•Burning plastic –
This could be an electrical short. Get into our service department quick.

•Smokey something –
If you smell something burning, but can’t quite identify the odor, it could be burning oil or transmission fluid. A burning paper smell can be your clutch, and a burning carpet smell might be your brakes. It’s best to get it checked out.

•Sweet –
That strangely sweet odor is usually anti-freeze. That typically means you have a leak in your coolant system. Be careful of your car overheating. If you’re running hot, pull over and wait for the engine to cool down before continuing on your way.

•Gas fumes –
Red alert! Your gas tank or fuel lines may be leaking. It’s a very dangerous situation. Pull over and call for a tow.

•Burning rubber –
If you didn’t just do a burnout in the parking lot, you’ve probably got a bad hose, belt or badly underinflated tire.

•Rotten eggs –
Either your catalytic converter is clogged or your fuel injection system isn’t working properly.

•Stinky socks –
That unpleasant smell usually means you have some mildew in your air conditioning/heating system. Or you need to do your laundry.

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About WeberCarGuy

Born in St Louis County, Moved to St Charles County where I have lived for 37 yrs. Society of Sales Executives, and GM Security Coordinator, I have 2 children and 2 grandchildren with my wife of 38 yrs., have been in the car business for 39 yrs, 29 with Weber, my passion for the car business is equaled by my love of technology. I enjoy boating, family and especially my grandchildren in my spare time.
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