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11 Reasons Your Car Smells Like Something Is Burning

11 Reasons Your Car Smells Like Something Is Burning

Here are the 11 most common reasons your car smells like something is burning:

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


  1. Problem with the brake system
  2. Issues with the clutch
  3. Troubles with electric system
  4. Malfunctioning in the HVAC
  5. Troubles related to foreign objects
  6. Issues with an engine oil leak
  7. Problems with the drive belt
  8. Troubles with the loose hose
  9. Clogging in the catalytic converter
  10. Misfiring in the combustion system
  11. Leaking in the gear oil

According to automotive experts, whenever you notice any weird smell coming out of your vehicle, you shouldn't ignore it because it could be related to an important internal problem that could cause hazardous situations.

One of the most common smells you might run across during your vehicle's lifetime is something burning.

Although your vehicle is equipped with a combustion system, it doesn't necessarily mean that you should continuously smell any running smell coming out of the vehicle.

However, automotive experts mentioned that whenever you notice any burning smell, you should take it seriously because it could result in a risk of fires.


Tons of situations could cause you to smell like something is burning in your vehicle. This article provides the 11 common reasons your car smells like something is burning. Read on for more details!

odd car smells

11 reasons your car smells like something is burning

A burning smell can be very dangerous and might be linked to a problem that involves you in hazardous situations. Many situations might cause your vehicle to smell like something is burning. However, not all of them are very common, so we like to focus our discussion in this article on the 11 most common reasons your car smells like something is burning.

Keep in mind that we'll do our best to describe what the smell will look like and where it's coming from to help you narrow down your list and identify the potential culprit. However, we still encourage you to consult your mechanic and have a verbal conversation to describe what you're dealing with and have him perform a floor inspection of your vehicle so you're not describing the wrong thing.

Let's take it also look below at what automotive experts put together as the top list of the 11 reasons your car smells like something is burning:

1.    Problem with the brake system

The first and most common problem that you might deal with and cause your vehicle to smell like something is burning is when you have an issue in the braking system. Remember that the rating system consists of tons of components, and any of them could go bad and result in this burning smell.

For example, if your brake pad is due for replacement and you're going to pay attention to it, it might get to a point where the rubber components grant against the metal components and cause a burning smell.

In addition to the brake pads, you might have a problem with a caliber that might be seized or has an internal problem parent your mechanic should be able to perform the third inspection and determine what exactly is going on wrong with the caliper and either so just replacing it or fixing it if possible.

Also, some customers might be dealing with a problem related to the brake pad hose or the bidding brake. Both could result in some burning smell due to friction with the internal components.

2.    Issues with the clutch

If you're driving a vehicle equipped with a manual transmission, you'll have a long list of dental problems related to the clutch.

When you have a problem with the clouds, it's not rare to deal with situations where your vehicle smells like something is burning. Typically, the problem could be related to the hot rubber because of excessive clutch slipping.

You must consult your mechanic and understand what exactly is going on. Sometimes it could be just your driving habits and your riding on the clutch causing the problem. Whatever the reason is, you should result as soon as possible.

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3.    Troubles with electric system

There are many situations where the burning smell is more like it looks like wires burning. For example, if you have a problem with a blown fuse or probably an electrical short, you might notice some burning smell coming from they'll let their system.

If your mechanic confirms that the problem has to do with a blown fuse, then you have a lucky situation because you easily replace the blown fuse for a very low price and resolve your problem. However, ignoring the problem for a long time might result in further complications that could cost you thousands of dollars.

4.    Malfunctioning in the HVAC

The HVAC system commonly produces burning smells when there is a problem with one of the internal components. This is linked somehow to the cooling system, and you get to resolve the problems as soon as possible to prevent further complications and other systems.

Most of the time, when the HV AC system produces something like a burning smell, it could be a problem with dust building up inside the vents or probably an issue with the heater core.

Your mechanic will be able to let you know whether you must fix the heater core, clean the dust, or probably remove The Dirty cabin air filter that could also result in this situation.

Finally, there are other situations where drivers complain about problems related to the blower motor or the AC compressor that might make it smell like something is burning inside your car. Fortunately, fixing the compressor or these more complicated problems might require a lot of money on repair, which is a critical situation that you should evaluate carefully before making your repairing decision.

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5.    Troubles related to foreign objects

Did you know that sometimes the burning smell inside your vehicle might be related to something totally outside of your car? For example, you probably drove over the highway and picked up a plastic bag or anything considered a foreign object. This object might land on a very hot component like the engine and cause this burning smell.

Therefore, before you get very worried and think of the thousands of dollars on repair, look at the vehicle and check for any object you can remove yourself without needing to go to the mechanic. After you check and remove this object, try driving your car again and see if the smell is going away or if it's still there because it could indicate that the objects either got to internal components or there is something else going on wrong.

6.    Issues with an engine oil leak

If you're burning smell has to do with the engine oil, this is a very critical situation. The engine oil is required to lubricate the engine and prevent any internal friction that could cause excessive heat.

If there's any internal or external leak and you notice this leak in the form of a burning smell, you must stop driving your vehicle and resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Driving on low oil is never a good situation because it can easily damage your engine in no time.

Drive Belt Replacement Cost

7.    Problems with the drive belt

Sometimes you might be dealing with another problem related to the drive belt. The drive belt should always work for your car to operate properly. This belt is connected to the engine and then transfers the energy to the other components and gets them moving all the time.

Any problem with the drive belt could easily get you started without a working vehicle.

Therefore, when you notice the burning smell and when it just starts, you got to take it seriously and look at the drive belt. If there is something wrong with the drive belts and if it's overburned, you got to check with the mechanic and have him replace it immediately before things get more complicated and before you get stuck in a place where you don't have any help.

8.    Troubles with the loose hose

Did you know that sometimes you will start noticing a burning smell when you have some loose connections?

Yes! If your connections and the hoses are not connected properly, they might contact the hot engine and cause this burning smell. Obviously, the longer you wait on the problem, the worse it gets because this host will be melted and completely.

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9.    Clogging in the catalytic converter

If you checked all the mentioned problems and still did not resolve the burning smell issue, you must look at the catalytic converter.

If you don't know, the catalytic converter is a critical object in your vehicle responsible for getting rid of harmful gases, and many of your vehicles release less harmful gases to the environment.

Overtime reviews, this converter might get clogged, and when this happens, you will notice some burning smell. If your mechanic confirmed that the Catalytic converter needs to be in your place, this is another critical situation because repair costs can be extremely high, and that's where you must decide whether you should fix your car or salad.

10.  Misfiring in the combustion system

At this point, you most likely have determined the issue causing the burning smell. However, if all the mentioned problems do not reveal the real culprits, the next step is to look at the combustion system.

Sometimes, any problem with the combustion system might lead to this burning smell. If that's the case, you got to talk to your mechanic and have him perform an inspection of the different components involved in the combustion process. Many of these components would go bad, and when one of them goes bad and deals with excessive heat that touches some rubber components, you might deal with this burning smell coming out of your vehicle.

What’s Leaking from My Car

11.  Leaking in the gear oil

Finally, the gear oil should not be looking at all. If this happens, this oil might drop on hot components and cause some weird smell that is more like a burning smell hearing

Your mechanic must determine any internal or external leaks because the more your oil leaks, the worse your situation gets, and the higher the chances of dealing with major complications that will cost you tons of money on repair costs.

Final thoughts

When your car smells like something is burning, it's never fun. It could mean a major problem inside your vehicle, and it might indicate an issue with one of the very sensitive systems in your vehicle, like the braking system.

Automotive experts always recommend that you understand all potential reasons your car smells like something is burning. Once you understand these reasons, you'll be able to determine where the smell is coming from, and you'll have a much narrower list of all potential culprits.

Once you identify the culprits, the next step is to consult your mechanic and have him resolve the problem as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

If your mechanic determines that your vehicle has major problems and will cost you thousands of dollars on repair, selling it might make the most sense rather than wasting your time, effort, and money.

If you're looking for someone to buy your car and know it has major complications, you can always consult a Cash Cars Buyer!

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