When it comes to the bigger financial outlays in the average person’s life – home, health care, vehicle – failing to give proper attention to small issues and annoyances often means big, costly problems further down the road.
Because cars and trucks operate using a range of different fluids, an electric system and, in most instances, a gas-powered motor, the potential for your vehicle to generate smells is actually pretty high.
Kind of like your kitchen, with all of its power sources and varieties of “fuels,” where you can bake gingerbread, create a science experiment in a container of leftovers lost in the back of the fridge, broil a salmon filet to perfection or even just boil dry a tea kettle. These all create unique aromas that could bring you running to the kitchen ready to taste – or opening the windows and leaving home for a couple hours.
7 Common Vehicle Smells and What They Could Mean:
- Sulfur (rotten eggs): Your catalytic converter is designed to convert hydrogen sulfide in your engine’s exhaust into sulfur dioxide. The rotten egg smell could signal that your “cat” isn’t working as it should and needs to be replaced. If it’s a newer car, this repair could be covered by your warranty. But in any case, get it checked right away.
- Hot oil: Not so appealing as making funnel cakes in the kitchen, this unpleasant aroma means oil is leaking onto the hot exhaust manifold. If it’s from a leaky crankshaft, expect to see oil on the pavement beneath your car. If it’s from a leaky valve cover, look for smoke coming from the exhaust.
- Syrup: The sweetish smell while the car is running or has recently been turned off could be the ethylene glycol in the coolant. It can signal a leaky radiator or hose or a leak in the car’s heating system. Either way, best to get it checked right away before the radiator runs dry or the heating system breaks down.
- Burned carpet: Check your brakes. With normal driving, the smell could indicate you have a dragging brake wearing down the pads, or you forgot to disengage your handbrake.
- Burned rubber: Check your engine hoses and belts. Are they tight? Is one resting on the hot engine? It might also mean you have a loose belt or one that is about to break. Replace it quickly.
- Gasoline: Sometimes this odor is from sloppy refueling. But it can also mean there is a leak in your vent hose or fuel injection line. Get it checked immediately…and don’t light up anything in the vicinity until after it’s diagnosed and repaired.
- Locker room or wrestling match: If this heady aroma flows from your car vents when you turn on the a/c, it’s telling you that the vehicle’s air-conditioner evaporator has grown a crop of mold and mildew. (Or that your son’s game bag is still in the back seat.) Molds and mildew can be dangerous allergens for people with sensitivities, creating headaches, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, even difficulty breathing – not the shape you want to be in while driving. In some cases, running the fan with the vents open and the a/c off helps to dry it out, but you may need to have your system cleaned by your service department.
When it comes to these 7 aromas, the nose knows…so follow up and catch these before they become the 7 deadly scents.
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