Advice and Tips

Does your car smell funny? This could be why

Moneybarn News // 18 August 2016

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We’ve all opened a car only to be welcomed by the unpleasant scent that’ll haunt your nostrils for a while. Some can be funky smells you can easily forget about, but others are far more important to you as a driver. We’ll be explaining where those unwelcome and potentially dangerous scents are caused by, as well as what they mean for you and your car.

Burning rubber

The smell of burning rubber can indicate that a hose may have come loose and may be in contact with the engine. Check to ensure that one isn’t touching the other as this can cause serious problems.

Oil burning

First things first, check the oil dipstick. There’s a good chance that you may be running low on oil or the engine may be overheating. Check that oil isn’t leaking onto the engine or exhaust. If the oil is low, there’s a chance it could burn in the transmission due to gears that aren’t lubricated.

Exhaust fumes in the passenger seat

Carbon monoxide is in exhaust fumes, so if you smell fumes, open all windows and check the cause of the issue as soon as possible.

That syrup smell

Many modern day coolants contain ethylene glycol, which is why you may get the sweet smell. If you smell a sweet, syrupy smell, your coolant may be leaking.

A leaking radiator can also produce this smell. If you think your radiator may be causing it, the core of the heater is the cause. If it is, get the vehicle checked immediately. If the core heater doesn’t work, the car has no heat therefore the defroster won’t work.


Don’t look to your right and blame your passenger! It’s quite likely that egg scent comes from the catalytic converter. The eggy smell may mean it is not functioning correctly.

Burnt toast

Short circuit or insulation on a wire could be burning. Take a look under the hood. If you do smell toast while you’re driving, pull over safely and call roadside services for assistance.


If you have had issues starting your car and you smell petrol, wait a couple of minutes and try again. If the problem continues, check the fuel injection system or carburetor to make sure there are no leaks.

If that doesn’t reveal anything, check the pump to see if it’s rotted or disconnected. You should also check under the vehicle for leaks. If you’ve just filled your tank and continue to smell petrol, have it repaired as soon as possible.

A combination of these issues means you probably need to replace your car. Replacing a car isn’t an easy decision, especially when it comes to financing. If you’re considering financing, talk to us or fill in a form.