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What's That Smell? Car Odors Not to Ignore

Coolant level low warning light
The nose is a powerful tool; in fact, your nose can even help with detecting an underlying problem with your car. If you're ever riding around and smell something unusual, your car might be trying to tell you something.

Coolant Leak

A sweet, syrup-like smell radiating from your car could be a sign of a coolant leak. Coolant, or antifreeze, is a fluid used to stabilize the temperature of the engine. When the coolant level drops, the engine is at risk of overheating, and when an engine overheats, it could experience permanent and total failure.

This smell accompanied by the presence of bright orange, green or pink substance on the ground under your car, there's a high probability that you're experiencing a coolant leak.

Dirty Cabin Air Filter 

The cabin air filter is responsible for cleaning the air that enters into the cabin, or inside, of your vehicle. As dust, pollen and other debris flow through, the filter traps these particles. The filter also catches mold spores. These devices work just like the filter in your home, and just like those filters, they need changing periodically.

If you notice a mildew-like smell in your vehicle, it's highly likely the cabin filter is to blame. Aim to replace the filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles to avoid this problem.

Oil Leak

Are you experiencing an awful burning smell when you drive your vehicle? A common reason for this smell is an oil leak. When you drive your vehicle, the engine heats up considerably, including the outside of your engine.

As the leaking oil spills out and flows along the exterior of the engine, it will burn, which leads to the scent you're smelling. In addition to the burning scent, you may also see dark puddles under your car and a cloud of white smoke in your rearview mirror.

Dying Battery

The smell of a rotting egg is by far one of the worst odors known to humanity. So, if you start to experience this scent in your car, getting to the bottom of it becomes priority number one. Fortunately, there is likely a simple solution. A battery that is failing will start to output a gas; a gas that happens to smell similar to rotten eggs.

Although it's hard to see the good in this scenario, think of the smell as a heads up that prevents you from being stranded with a dead battery.

Gas Leak

If your smelling fuel and you didn't just leave the gas station, you could have a gas leak on your hands. If you ever experience this issue, it is important that you act right away. If the scent of the fuel is strong enough for your nose to detect it, there is also enough fuel present to pose a serious fire hazard. 

The problem could be as minor as a faulty gas cap or something more serious like an injector leak.

Failing Alternator

The smell of burning rubber is often thought of as cool when driving a vehicle, but if you aren't racing and you detect this scent, it's not a pleasant experience. A burning rubber smell is often indicative of a problem with the alternator.

The alternator plays a critical role in delivering power to the electrical systems in your vehicle, and when it has failed, the vehicle won't start up. This smell could mean that there is some level of friction built up in the system that deserves your attention.

At the first sign of a problem, ensure you're having your vehicle serviced. No matter the smell, at Corporate Auto Works, we are here to help you get to the bottom of it.