Eight Car Smells That Should Be Promptly Checked

Car problems rarely happen without warning. Usually, there are symptoms to warn you about problems before a major breakdown occurs. A strange smell is one of them. Any unusual smell should be checked and fixed promptly because it can be a sign of a health hazard or an issue that could lead to a major breakdown. Here are eight car smells that could spell trouble.

1. Smell Of Exhaust Gases In The Cabin

If you smell smoke or exhaust fumes in the cabin, open all the windows right away. Take your car to the workshop. It could mean a broken pipe or some other fault with the exhaust system. There is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

2. Mouldy Or Musty Odour

If your car smells of mould, it’s growing somewhere and that’s a problem. Mould needs moisture to grow. Moisture can cause rust and play havoc with the electronic parts of your car, especially its computers. Mould is also a health hazard because it can trigger allergies and asthma. The evaporator and a/c ducts are common sites of mould growth due to the warm, moist and humid conditions that they provide.

3. Smell Of Decay

If you get the smell of a rotting dead animal, take your car to the garage. Most likely, a rodent or other animal has died after entering the engine compartment or the HVAC system. The problem is more common if your vehicle is rarely used. Just removing the animal is not enough. The system will also need cleaning and disinfecting. Get it investigated at the first hint of smell before it gets worse. Sometimes, a problem with the catalytic converter can also result in a rotten-egg smell.

4. Smell Of Fuel

If you come in contact with fuel while refuelling, you can expect the smell to linger for some time. Some gas tank repairs can also leave your car mildly smelling of fuel for a few days. In both these cases, the smell should diminish and disappear.

If your car smells of petrol (or diesel) and you can’t think of an obvious reason, get it checked quickly. You probably have a fuel leak. If it is in a high-temperature zone like the engine compartment, there is a serious risk of fire.

5. Smell Of Burning Wires

You know the smell that comes when you have a short circuit or a loose connection at home. It’s a noxious smell of burning plastic. The fumes are harmful. So, the first thing to do is to open the windows and let the fresh air drive it out. This smell is indicative of an electrical problem. If ignored, it can further damage the system. If it is a short circuit, there is also the risk of fire.

6. Smell Of Burning Paper

This is probably due to a slipping clutch or a stuck brake. It must be investigated and fixed to prevent any failures.

7. Smell Of Burning Oil

Oil can burn if it leaks and falls onto hot surfaces of your car. It can also be caused due to low engine oil levels or leakage of the transmission fluid. The smell will be similar to cooking oil burning in a pan.
Oil is used to lubricate, clean and cool mechanical components. Leaks can deplete oil levels and cause serious problems. Depending on the location of the leak, burning oil can also damage car components if left unchecked. Getting it fixed quickly will save you the cost of oil replacement and major repairs.

8. Chemical Smell

If you get a chemical smell, you probably have a problem with the heater core. If it’s a fruity odour, it could be due to leakage of the coolant. Get it checked before it results in a major fault. Chemical fumes are also harmful and can cause allergic reactions.

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