Bad Car Smells and What They Mean

September 16th, 2019 by

an Asian woman sitting in the drivers seat and plugging the nostrils of her nose because of a bad smell in the vehicle

Vehicle Odors Cause and Solutions

Does your car have a bad or odd smell and you don’t know where it’s coming from? That smell might be a warning sign of a car problem that you’ll want to get fixed as soon as possible. Today, we’ll go over some common bad car smells, what they mean, and what solution you need to get your vehicle back to tip-top shape!

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Smell: Body Odor

In some cases, this might just mean your car needs a good cleaning such as clearing out trash and vacuuming. However, you usually can’t detect your own B.O.. Therefore, it’s more likely grown mold or mildew that is making this unpleasant aroma.

Mold and mildew can cause irritations and are particularly annoying to people with allergies, causing everything from headaches, to itching, to sneezing, to sore throats. Therefore, you’ll probably want to wash down your dashboard and clean out your A/C and filter.

Smell: Burning Rubber

Unless your tires have been worked to the bone recently with high speeds and quick braking, the smell of burnt rubber usually isn’t from them. More likely, burnt rubber might mean a misplaced, caught, or worn-down hose or belt under your hood. You should get that part back in its proper place and properly fitted (not too tight or too loose) as well as replaced if its condition is subpar.


older senior woman driving car hot, overheated, and frustrated while feeling sick
young woman driving car with a headache and rubbing her temples to relieve stress


Smell: Burnt Carpet/Wool

That sounds like your brakes. Something is either wearing down your brake pads or you forgot to complete disengage your hand brake/parking brake before driving

Smell: Burnt Paper

Burning paper means something is going wrong with your clutch. The burnt paper smells come from friction burning off material as your clutch slips. That means your clutch is failing, possible from “riding” it too much. These are warning signs, so we’d recommend getting it checked out and fixed before the whole clutch fails.

Smell: Gasoline

Assuming you didn’t spill a bunch of gas on your car the last time you refueled at the pump, smelling gas in your car might indicate a leak. We’d recommend getting your vent hose and fuel injection line checked out ASAP and obviously avoid lighting anything up in or near the car until you have it checked out and fixed.

Smell: Hot Oil

Hot oil is normal in a car, but you shouldn’t be able to smell it. You’ve got a leak onto the hot exhaust manifold that can come from a number of places, such as the crankshaft, a valve cover, or elsewhere.

Smell: Rotten Eggs

The smell of rotten eggs from a car means sulfur. Sulfur comes from your engine’s exhaust system when the catalytic converter changes hydrogen sulfide into sulfur dioxide. Therefore, there’s probably a problem with your vehicle’s catalytic convertor.

Smell: Syrup

This sweet smell from a car is likely from a chemical component in your coolant. You shouldn’t be able to smell it, so that means there might be a leak in the car’s heating system. Get it fixed to prevent your radiator running dry or the entire heating system breaking.

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For most issues, you’ll still want to get your car checked over and fixed. We’re here to offer affordable automotive service here at the Carl Black Hiram Auto Superstore! Check out our service center along with our service and parts specials for further savings!

For more information, please contact us. The Carl Black Hiram staff can be reached online, by phone, or with a visit to our dealership. The Carl Black Hiram dealership is located in Hiram, Georgia within Paulding County where we serve the driving public of the surrounding cities of Marietta, Dallas, Atlanta, and more!