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5 Unusual Car Smells & What They May Mean

We all don’t expect our vehicles to always smell like roses, but we don’t anticipate a nauseating smell either. If your car releases a strong odor, it can help you identify a potential problem. Unless you have a new air freshener, an unusual smell should be inspected to prevent dangerous mechanical problems and costly repairs. Below are five strange car smells to look out for and what they may mean. 

Sweet Smell

Coolant is usually lime green and smells very sweet smelling. If you notice a sweet smell inside your car cabin, there may be a coolant leak. In some cases, the coolant leak will be visible underneath the front of your vehicle. However, a coolant leak may not always be visible because it can take place beneath the dashboard. A sweet smell may seem nice but should be inspected by a professional. 

Burning Smell 

A burning smell may occur if the brake pads and rotors have overheated due to hard braking. If the burning smell doesn’t subside over time, there may be an oil leak. During oil leaks, oil can seep onto hot engine parts and into the exhaust, releasing a poignant smell. Persistent burning smells should be inspected because an oil leak can cause the engine to overheat, leading to significant damage. 

Musty Smell 

Over time moisture can naturally develop in the air conditioner. If the air conditioner has accumulated mold and mildew inside the vents, a musty smell will become noticeable. In other cases, if the carpets get wet, they can develop smelly mildew. 

Gas Smell

A gas smell can be normal if you just started the engine or recently got gas. Check that the gas cap is securely fastened to make sure vapor isn’t being released. However, if a gas smell is persistent, there may be a gas leak. If the gas smell does not go away after a few miles, reach out for an inspection. 

Electrical Smell

If there’s a strong electrical smell, the insulation may have overheated. In severe cases, the maybe a short circuit in an electrical component. An electrical smell should always be inspected right away because they put your vehicle at risk for an electrical fire. 

Vehicle inspection and diagnosis in Solana Beach, CA

Strange vehicle smells can be alarming. If you notice any of the above odors, don’t wait to seek help. An unusual car smell can be a precursor to additional mechanical problems. DRIVE AutoCare has been serving the Solana Beach community for over 40 years. We have ASE Master Technicians who provide expert automotive service and repair. 

Click here to schedule an appointment.  DRIVE AutoCare has two convenient locations in Solana Beach to serve you.

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