Have you ever smelled something in your car engine that made you wonder ‘what is that smell?’ We all experience different smells in our cars, but the most common ones are either burning rubber or oil. These two odours can be attributed to problems with your engine. Burning rubber is usually caused by brake pads or tyres wearing out too quickly and oil smells come from leaking engines or worn-out gaskets. The best thing to do when you detect a strange odour is to take your car to the nearest auto repair shop for diagnosis – they’ll know exactly what needs fixing and whether you need to buy car parts.

The best way to determine if there is something wrong with your vehicle is by smelling it. This may seem strange, but every type of problem has its own unique odour. In this blog, we’ll explore what the various types of odours mean and how to diagnose them effectively.

Types of Vehicle Odours & What They Mean

1.The Smell of a Fruity Candy or Maple Syrup

What’s wrong: The Coolant

Sniff a strange, sweet smell coming from your car engine? It’s nothing but the coolant that’s running off from the cooling system and there’s probably a leak waiting for you to fix it. It needs to be repaired as soon as possible since neglecting the leak could damage your vehicle to a greater extent, causing it to overheat.

Step to take: Never drive your car if the coolant is leaking as it damages the engine further. Bring in your car at an auto repair shop or even better, call for a qualified automotive mechanic.

2. The Smell of Rotten Eggs

What’s wrong: The Catalytic Converter

Nothing feels worse than opening your car door and a terrible foul smell welcoming you inside. ‘Eww. Why does my car interior  smell like rotten eggs?’ you may ask and as per the automotive experts, there’s an issue with your car’s catalytic converter.

The presence of sulphur is what makes your car interior smell like rotten eggs which signals a surprising imbalance in your car engine’s air and fuel proportion. It’s also a warning sign that the catalytic converter, fuel pressure sensors and fuel filters are damaged. As a consequence, sulfur is escaping and making a way inside your car.

Step to Take: Get a reliable mechanic to check your car immediately. You can easily avoid spending on replacing your catalytic converter if the problem is treated at the earliest.

Also read: Idling Your Car vs Restarting: Which One Needs Less Fuel?

Reasons why your car engine smells bad


3. The Smell of Mold or Mildew

What’s wrong: The Air-conditioning

Do you know how your car’s air-conditioning functions?

Moisture is extricated by the air conditioner from the air and the extracted water is collected in a box that’s placed behind the dashboard that also consists of a drain. Sediments, papers, leaves and other materials often block this drain. With no outlet to flow through, the extracted water remains standing and gradually, moulds begin to grow.

And what’s the ultimate result? Your air conditioner must be repaired or you need to buy car parts to replace certain components in your air conditioner system. Besides this, water can also make way inside your vehicle causing moulds and mildews to grow on the floor mats and carpets.

Also, if you don’t run the A/C regularly, mould inducing moisture will soon be accumulating in the air conditioner’s duct system.

Step to take: Avail a professional car interior cleaning service to eliminate moulds and mildews from your car interior. As a preventive measure, remember to run your car’s air conditioner for a few minutes every month, even if it the weather is cool outside.

4. The Smell of Fumes or Exhaust

What’s wrong: An Exhaust Leak

There’s only one word for this: DANGEROUS. A notorious exhaust leak is at play which is getting inside your car engine quickly and increasing the amount of carbon monoxide level.

Step to take: Immediately roll down the windows. Move over to one side of the road as quickly as possible and turn off the engine. Call in for a qualified mechanic to address the issue.

Also read: When is the Right Time to Lubricate the Wheel Bearing?

5. The Smell of Burning Plastic

What’s wrong: The Wiring has a Short Circuit

If the plastic insulation of the wires is worn out or chewed off by animals like rats, the wires get exposed and rub together, producing a short, that can lead to a fire. Sometimes, these shorts can burn or melt the plastic straightaway.

Step to take: Stop the car on the side safely. If the exhaust is covered with a bag or another plastic material, don’t touch it directly as it’s very hot. Remove it wearing hand gloves or using a pair of pincers.

Closing Lines: At the end of a long day, there’s nothing more satisfying than being able to enjoy a smooth ride in your car with all its functions in good working order. If you are noticing an unusual smell coming from your car engine, it may be time for some preventative maintenance or even repairs. We recommend that you take care of this as soon as possible so that these odours don’t become permanent fixtures in your life and ruin any chance at finding love on Tinder! If you’re not sure what or why that smell is coming from your car’s engine, take a look at our list of the most common odours and their meanings. For qualified mechanics who can diagnose these problems accurately or should you want to buy car parts, visit Swezo.

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