Auto Troubleshooting: Understanding The Common Problem Signs

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What Is The Smell In My Car?

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Many different smells can be present in your car and make your life miserable. Here are some types of smells and the common sources to check for a fix.

Burning Smells

A burning smell in your vehicle could be the result of many different things. For one, it could mean that you have an oil leak. If oil is leaking onto a hot surface in the engine, it could be quickly starting to smolder. There could also be leaves or other debris in your engine that is burning. Another possible reason is that your tires or brakes need to be replaced. When the smell most closely resembles burning rubber, it's safe to suspect that your tires are getting too much friction. That could relate to tires being old and needing to be replaced, or to a braking system that is worn out.

Another source of a burnt smell is electrical components, such as a short fuse. Whenever you smell any kind of burning in your vehicle, it's an emergency to get it checked out, since there are so many potential serious causes of this smell; visit an auto repair center when you can.


Mold and mildew smells are more than likely related to your AC system. There could be a source of moisture that is not draining correctly, causing old water to pool up in the system. It's a good idea to get auto AC repair when you are noticing a moldy smell, because a buildup of mold could be bad for your respiratory health.

Rotting Food

There are some places you might have missed when looking for old food that could be causing smells. Check the door inserts to see if any guests have left trash there. Move the seats completely back and forward to try and catch bits of food that have been collecting under the seat for a while. Look inside the pockets on the back of your seats. Check the cracks between the cushions in your back seat if you have seats that you can put down.


Gasoline smells in the car are a problem when they are persistent and strong. It is normal to smell gas when you first gas up the tank. If the smell lingers, check to see if your gas cap is loose. If it isn't, this is another issue that will require a visit to your auto repair center, such as Modern Auto Air.