Why Does My Car Stink?
September 8th, 2016
Everyone knows someone who’s got a nasty car…one that smells like a terrarium or a gym shoe or a turtle cage…and it seems like minivans and SUVs are even easier to get nasty, when you throw kids into the mix. But sometimes even a really clean car can pick up some odd odors. Here are some common smells, and some possible reasons why:
Maple syrup: The ethylene glycol in coolant can smell a bit like maple syrup, and it means there’s a coolant leak somewhere. Check the radiator, hoses, hose clamps and water pump, or if you’re unlucky the head gasket or intake manifold gasket. If the smell is strong inside the passenger compartment, your heater core may be leaking.
Gym socks: This is an easy one…you’ve got mildew in the a/c system. It can be kind of a tough one to fix, but try running the a/c on high with the windows down for awhile to evacuate the smell from the system.
Sulfur: Heavy gear oil has a sulfurous smell, and you are most likely leaking some from the manual transmission, transfer case or differential housing. Keep an eye out for leaks under the vehicle; placing a sheet of cardboard under the car overnight can help you determine exactly where the leak originates.
Rotten eggs: Hydrogen sulfide is an exhaust gas that should be scrubbed out by the catalytic converter. If you can smell it after the engine’s warmed up, that’s not good. It can be indicative of a fuel injection problem, or a failed catalytic converter – and those converters can be expensive.
Burnt paper: If you’ve got a manual transmission, the burnt paper smell is most likely coming from the friction material on the clutch facing. Either your clutch is slipping, or you need to modify your clutch use a little.
Burnt carpet: Overheated brake pads can have a definite burnt-carpet stink. Pretty normal if you’re driving in the hills, but if it happens around town you may have a stuck caliper and a dragging brake.
Don’t just put up with a stink – make an appointment with JBC Tire Complete Auto Care and let us figure out what’s going on!