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Smells that may indicate your car needs a checkup

Posted by Scott Stueber on Mar 30, 2021 9:45:48 AM

Car smells you shouldnt ignoreIf you have kids, there’s no telling how many different smells can be in your car. While they have no problem bringing things into the car, it’s amazing to me that not everything makes it out. And with warmer temperatures, it doesn’t take long for an obnoxious smell to start lingering in your car.

However, it’s important to know that not all smells are your kids’ fault. Things that begin to mechanically fail on your car can create a variety of different smells.

Here are some smells to pay attention to if they linger in your car for more than a couple hours.

1. Rotten eggs. Initially when you start your car, especially on a cold day, your car’s exhaust may smell. That’s common because a cold engine doesn’t run as efficiently and releases more unburned hydrocarbons. However, if the egg smell is present each time you drive your car, it could be the result of a damaged catalytic converter. Please be aware that catalytic converter theft has increased significantly. If it’s been removed from your car, it will sound very loud. To learn more, click here.

2. Musty attic or basement. When you turn on your car’s air conditioner for the first time each year, it may smell musty. Recently, my daughter complained of that smell in her car. If your car smells like this, there could be a couple of things going on.

First, it could simply be from lack of use. Running the A/C for a while may clear up the problem. If the smell doesn’t come back, more than likely the problem is resolved. If it doesn’t go away, then I’d recommend checking your cabin filter. If you’re unaware of this filter, it’s likely time for a new one.

A cabin filter’s job is to collect airborne particles before they enter your car. Particles include pollutants, pollen, and dust. Cars manufactured after 2000 should have them. Filters are usually located behind your glove box. Refer to your owner’s manual to learn more.

Last, check for mold or mildew buildup in your car’s vents.

3. Breakfast. For me, nothing beats a waffle loaded with maple syrup and whip cream. And don’t forget a glass of chocolate milk. However, if your car has a sweet smell like syrup, it could be a sign of a coolant/anti-freeze leak.

Engine coolant does a couple of different things so it’s important to get your car inspected timely. First, it keeps your engine cool and prevents it from overheating. Second, it lubricates engine components and keeps them running efficiently. Last, it heats your car and keeps you nice and warm on cold days.

If you have pets, make sure to keep them away from coolant that may have leaked on your garage floor. Its sweet taste could cause them to lick it. A small amount is extremely poisonous and can have deadly consequences.

4. Gas station. It’s common to smell gas after you fill up your car. A small amount of gas could be on your hands or shoes. However, if the smell gets worse and it’s present every time you drive your car, there could be a more severe issue lurking underneath your hood. I’d recommend taking it to your local mechanic immediately. There could be a leak coming from a damaged hose which could cause a fire.

5. Burned shag carpet. Properly functioning brakes play a huge role in keeping us safe on our daily drives. If your calipers aren’t working correcting, your brakes may not release properly when you let off the brake pedal. This could cause unwanted rubbing, leading to your brake pads getting worn down quickly. Also, make sure your parking brake is disengaged.

6. Hot oil. This smell could mean your engine is leaking oil, and it’s falling on your exhaust manifold. Check your driveway or garage floor for oil spots. Also, check your oil level to make sure you have an adequate amount in your engine. Low or an inadequate amount of oil could lead to engine failure. For assistance refer to your owner’s manual.

While this may not be an all-inclusive list, it provides some guidance to help keep your car in good working condition and can keep you and others safe on our roadways.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts; please share them in the box below.


Topics: Auto Safety

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