Your sense of smell can give you advance warning of a developing problem with your vehicle. As I wrote on ecoXplorer, prompt attention can mean the difference between quick, cheap preventive maintenance, a budget-busting repair or even a mechanical failure and an accident.
Kitchen smells belong in the kitchen, not in your car, or around it. Here are some smells of which to beware:
- Burned toast: This isn’t breakfast. This could be an electrical problem and should be checked immediately.
- Rotten eggs: A rotten egg or burning sulfur smell usually indicates a catalytic converter or emission control system problem. According to Popular Mechanics, that’s likely covered by your manufacturer’s warranty.
- Burning oil: The odor of burning oil could mean oil is leaking onto a hot engine part. Have it checked before you suffer an engine fire that will fry your car instead of the chicken you just bought for dinner.
- Burning plastic: This could be wire insulation melting down, from a short circuit somewhere. Or, it could be something simple, like a plastic bag caught in the under-carriage, which happened to my son-in-law recently.
- Housecleaning chemical: A chemical or resin-like odor might indicate an overheated or “dragging brake” or an emergency brake that’s been left on by mistake.
- Maple syrup: An overly sweet smell coming from the heater, plus fogged windows and/or moist carpeting under the dash, is a strong indicator of a heater core failure. Have it repaired quickly, or risk engine damage from low coolant.
- Gas: I used to get carsick when I was a kid from the gas smell inside my dad’s Mercury, but that was before manufacturers insulated gas tanks and added sealing gas caps. These days, any time you smell gasoline other than at the gas station, unless you are driving past an oil refinery or “tank farm,” stop driving ASAP. It could be a fuel tank or fuel line leak, a problem with the fuel injection system, a failing fuel pump. Even if it’s something as simple as forgetting to replace the gas cap, stopping to fix it will stop the smell – and the money you waste from evaporating gas.
What’s your best – or worst – car smell story?
Photo by autoinsurancetips.com