Car smells: Six signs you need a car service – that you can smell

Follow your nose: some car smells are telling you it’s time for a service

Unfortunately, ‘new car smell’ can’t last forever, but how it smells is far from the most important qualities of our cars. But sometimes, an unfamiliar odour is an important warning sign that your car is in need of a service. 

According to the Car Care Council (US), unusual car smells can be reliable, early indicators of serious and potentially costly problems with your vehicle. Identifying and acting on them quickly could stop harmful damage to your car in its tracks and save you a huge amount of hassle.

Here are some car smells that can be signs that you should book a car service. You never know – your nose could save you an expensive, unexpected breakdown!

1. Burnt rubber car smell

The smell of burnt rubber while driving your car is often related to slipping drive belts or displaced loose hoses rubbing against rotating drive pulleys. Burnt rubber car smells usually mean that something has come loose in the engine. 

Remember never to reach into the engine compartment if it’s hot, and to leave the fix-ups to the professionals at your local mechanic.

2. Hot oil car smell

The smell of hot oil in your car might indicate that oil is leaking onto your exhaust system. Back up your nose’s suspicion by looking for drops of oil that have leaked onto the ground beneath your car or smoke coming from the engine.

3. Petrol car smell

If you smell petrol in your car, it could be a sign that there’s a gas leak somewhere. It might be the fuel injector or the fuel tank itself. 

As a highly flammable substance, any fuel leaking through your car poses a fire hazard. So, this is one car smell that should never be ignored, and you should act immediately. 

Acting on some car smells could save you a breakdown.

4. Sweet, sugary or syrup car smells

A sweet smell in your car can be a sign of coolant leaking from your engine’s cooling system. (Never open the radiator cap when the engine is still hot!)

5. Burnt carpet car smell

If you smell burning carpet in your car, it’s often related to brake issues. Any problems with your braking system are a serious hazard, so if you smell burnt carpet – especially when you’re driving in normal conditions – arrange a car service immediately.

6. Rotten egg car smell

Whether it’s in a car or not, the smell of rotten eggs is always unpleasant. But if you’re getting a rotten egg smell from your car, it could indicate a problem with your catalytic converter, which is responsible for converting hydrogen sulfide to sulfur dioxide in your exhaust. 

It could also be a sign that your engine is just not running well altogether, which ultimately overloads the catalytic converter and can cause it to fail.

So, never underestimate your nose – it’s one of the best tools you have for picking up on problems with your car. If you notice one of these six car smells while you’re driving, it’s probably time for a car service. 

Stay safe at home and in your car. Booking with Express Lube is easy – you can book a time online or pop in and see one of our friendly staff.