In-vehicle smells can show minor or major mechanical issues, depending on the nature of the smell, the smell location, and whether any fluid leaks or other signs are present.
Typically, smells starts from a fluid leak or malfunctioning part.
- Fluid leaks: Fluid leaks are the most common areas of unusual smells in a car. Gasoline, oil, coolant, and other fluids can leak from ruptured hoses, lines, gaskets, and seals.
- Malfunctioning parts: Many parts can cause fluids to leak if they break or rupture, but some parts themselves can cause unusual odors if they stop functioning properly. For example, an overcharged battery gives out excess heat that results in the battery putting off a strong scent of sulfur (like rotten eggs).
Common vehicle smells:
Smells originating from under the hood or under the car often take on a specific, recurring odor. If your vehicle is putting off one of the following scents, take note of it — it’s likely your issue is one of those commonly linked with that particular smell.
- Exhaust: Have the car inspected as soon as possible. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a major component of car exhaust, and is often referred to as the “silent killer.” If exhaust fumes are present in the cabin, so is CO. CO can produce loss of consciousness, and prolonged exposure can result in death.
- Gasoline: On modern vehicles, fuel odors should not be detectable at anytime apart froom refueling. A strong smell of gasoline can show a leaking fuel supply parts(fuel filler hose, filter, or lines) or an evaporative emissions part (purge valve, hoses, or canister). Have the car inspected by a professional immediately.
- Sweet (like maple syrup): When a sweet smell is noticed, the likely culprit is coolant. Coolant travels throughout the engine, radiator, various hoses, and the heater core, which is usually found under the dashboard. A coolant smell will usually be followed by an overheating condition, so a thorough visual inspection should be carried out immediately. At no time should the radiator cap on a car at operating temperature be removed, as hot coolant has the potential to cause serious injuries.
- Sulfur (like a struck match): The most likely cause of a strong scent like rotten eggs is a catalytic converter being overwhelmed or getting to failure, but it could also be the result of an overcharged battery or fuel system problem. To avoid costly repairs, have the car checked as soon as possible.
- Burning wood or rubber: Overheating the brakes or tires can cause the car interior to smell of burnt rubber. A slipping or malfunctioning clutch can make the interior to smell like burning wood. In both cases, letting the parts cool off for a few minutes may solve the issue. If the smell persists, it may show a slipping clutch, or a brake parts that is seized and may require.
- Hot oil: As engine oil leaks from a failed gasket or seal, it typically lands on hot parts and gives off a distinct smell. Small amounts of oil may neither leave traces on the floor nor be easily seen without a thorough inspection. It’s important to address the smell of oil even if no oil is actually visible.
- Mildew or mold: Usually, a musty odor is indicative of buildup on the car’s evaporator or a cabin air filter that is due for change (if the car is so equipped). An inspection of the duct system will usually be required. If the car has a cabin filter, a replacement may be necessary.
Common reasons for this to happen:
- Fuel injector is bad
- Fuel filter is bad
- Fuel tank is leaking
- Fuel pressure regulator is leaking
- Fuel pump assembly failure
- Broken fuel line
- Catalytic converter failure
- Overcharged battery
- Cabin air filter is bad
- Evaporator is plugged or dirty
- Drain hole is plugged
- Slipping or malfunctioning clutch
- Failed engine gasket or seal
- Heater core is leaking
- Radiator hose is bad
- Parking brake was left on while driving
- Seized brake piston
How important is car smell repair services
Many smells are the first signs of a potentially serious problem. If the smell you find is not on the list, there may still be a issue requiring attention. The mechanic will be able to know the severity of the issue during the inspection.
SEE ALSO:HOW TO REPLACE A CRANKSHAFT OIL SEAL