“Why is my car pungent like burning oil after driving?” or “why is my car suddenly reek?” There are different indicators of problems in your car, and smell is one of them.
But sometimes, you shrug off the smell or completely forget about it. Next thing you know, your car’s not working anymore.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t dawdle to learning about your vehicle and how to maintain it. However, you can avoid costly repairs by taking time to understand your car and how to keep it properly.
As Mandi Woodruff said, “ignoring even the smallest signs of trouble in your car’s performance can lead to trouble.” That’s why attentiveness can help prevent more migraine-inducing repairs.
Hence, this article will help you solve the mysteries behind those stinky odors in your car. Get in the driver’s seat and read away!
Always Have Enough Oil In Your Engine
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give your car’s engine oil much thought. You might even think that your vehicle requires only one type of oil.
However, your engine is your car’s heart and soul. It’s what makes your car run, but it won’t last long if you don’t have enough oil in it.
Oil lubricates and cools internal components and keeps them from wearing out prematurely. Because your car engine comprises both fixed and moving pieces, they are always in contact.
Selecting the right kind of engine oil is also important to its longevity. According to a recent study, an engine’s performance is strongly related to the oil used and its efficiency.
Still not convinced? Well, here are some facts about engine oils:
- Lessens the heat buildup within the engine
- Maintains the engine’s cleanliness
- Prevents rust and corrosion on engine components
- Aid in enhancing the effectiveness of fuel efficiency
With all these important uses of your car’s engine oil, you should pay attention to it.
As BusinessInsider said, “ignoring even the smallest signs of trouble in your car’s performance can lead to trouble.” That’s why attentiveness can help prevent more migraine-inducing repairs.
Always add an oil check on your routine maintenance. If you don’t change your car’s oil regularly, it will get unclean and lead to engine problems.
One of these problems is an oily smell in your car. However, you’ll think twice when you smell this kind of odor.
An oily smell isn’t supposed to reach you in the passenger cabin.
When Your Car Smells Like Oil
The smell of oil is just a prelude to a bigger problem. A distinctive scent of oil while or after driving is a symptom of something much scarier.
You don’t want to spend money on something you don’t need. But ignoring the problem could cost you even more in the long run.
The scent of the oil is just one of many symptoms that your car needs some TLC. So you better act fast!
And Worse, Now The Car Smells Like Burning Oil
“PU! Your car stinks!” That’s one of many comments you’ll hear when someone gets a whiff of that burning oil smell.
Not that anyone says PU anymore, but you get the point. It’s a bit embarrassing if your friends, family, or someone special smells something bad in your car.
The main cause of the burning smell is oil burning. Now, there are different reasons why there is burning oil.
Here are some reasons why your car reeks of burning oil:
- Improper oil change– Take care of your vehicle by changing your engine oil regularly. The wrong oil change could lead to costly repairs down the road.
- Loose oil filter– oil can spill out when you don’t put the filter back properly.
- Damaged oil plug– a broken oil plug can also lead to leaking.
- Failing gaskets– gaskets are the engine’s final defensive structure against leaks. Once they’re damaged, oil leaks will come after.
- Oil leaking– there are many ways oil can seep out. It can be from damaged parts, cracks in tubes, or an oil change incorrectly executed.
- Worn-out clutch– if you’re driving a manual car, you might sometimes put too much pressure on your grip. In turn, it causes too much heat, which then causes the burning oil smell.
- Unclean heating system– dirt and other debris will build up around your car, which could go in the heating system. A dirty heating system will eventually overheat.
- Brake system problem– when you press on your brake pedal while driving, the clutch will heat up. If it’s not already hot enough, you can cause the system to overheat.
However, if the symptoms here don’t fit your situation, always check with your mechanic.
Remember that burning oil smell is a different indicator, possibly, of a much bigger problem. It is different from the normal, oily aroma that you would get from a well-functioning car.
What To Do When You Encounter This Burning Oil Smell
Because the major cause of the burning oil smell varies, there is no single answer to this issue. For example, be extra careful when using the clutch or brakes if the odor is caused by pressing too hard.
If you’re experiencing an external or internal oil leak, it cannot be easy to fix. Although you’re capable, with your limited mechanical skills or tools, you’re only doing minimally.
These solutions and causes aren’t necessarily the answer or the primary cause you’ve noticed. Moreover, simply changing your car’s oil will not guarantee that the burning smell will go away.
Worst comes to worst, and you may even damage your car even more.
There are just two advisable steps: stop and call service if you cannot fix the problem. It would help if you went to a skilled mechanic to assist you in resolving the issue.
Car Burning Oil Fast Even Without Leak
You might ask, “I don’t relate to the reasons given, but my car is burning oil fast with no leaks!” We got that covered too.
Old cars aren’t the only ones that can have the burning oil problem. It can be caused by neglect regardless of whether it’s brand new or used for ten years.
There are different ways your car burns oil without any leaks:
- Broken piston rings– when the piston rings get damaged or stuck, the oil will enter the combustion chamber and burn.
- Leaking valve guides– oil can leak to the chamber when your valve guides are worn out. You can also hear a ticking noise from the engine when this happens.
- PCV valve stuck– your PCV valve seldomly gets stuck, but it can blow a seal when it does. Once the seal is broken, it can push more oil into the cylinders.
If you’re experiencing one of the mentioned problems, you better hurry up and fix it.
When left unfixed, your engine will run rough. Your catalytic converter will overheat and even blow out your engine.
Car Burning Oil and Emitting White Smoke
There are some instances that your car is burning oil with white smoke. It can also pose a serious problem for your vehicle.
You might have seen it on TV series or movies, but it can happen to you in real life. The main reason behind it is water or coolant entering the combustion chamber or exhaust port.
Oil and coolant sometimes mix because of the following reasons:
- After the engine has been pressure-washed, water may have entered the exhaust or carburetor
- Your cylinder liners or cooler cores might have been corroded
- The water pump seal is damaged or worn out
When coolant and motor oil interact, the mixture will create strong acids that damage engine bearings and other lubricating surfaces.
Other Car Smell Indicators To Be Aware Of
What are the weird smells you’ve smelled lately? Let us help you figure out what’s going on.
The Smell Of Gas
There are several reasons why your car suddenly reeks of gasoline.
First, your car was exposed to gas fumes. It is a dead ringer that your car will smell of gas when you’ve recently gone to a gas station.
Second, your car might have a leaky fuel system. It’s usually hard to pinpoint where the leak is because it can happen anywhere.
Your best bet is to either check for gas puddles beneath your car or go straight to your mechanic.
Lastly, a faulty fuel pressure regulator may interfere with your fuel mixture, making it too thin or rich. An incorrect fuel mixture will result in an excessive amount of gas being used in your engine.
The Smell Of Burnt Plastic
Burnt plastic doesn’t sit well with most of our noses. And having it inside your car is equally awful and terrifying.
Short-circuited wires usually cause a burnt plastic smell. It’s usually sudden and can entail disaster.
Manufacturing defects predominantly cause faulty wiring. Most often, car owners are blamed for the short-circuit, but some studies have stated otherwise.
The best thing to do when you smell burnt plastic is to pull over and call a mechanic.
The Smell Of Burnt Rubber
Burning rubber is common in race cars, but it can mean trouble if you’re not an F1 driver. Your main culprit for the burnt rubber smell is an overheating driving belt.
Different car parts rely on the driving belt. If one of them has a problem, it can cause serious damage to the belt by creating more friction.
Another reason is a loose rubber hose. A car contains many hoses to transport different kinds of things, and they can come undone from the vehicle’s vibrations.
The Smell of Maple Syrup
No, you’re not hungry, and yes, that’s maple syrup that you’re smelling. We know it’s an unusual smell in your car, but it happens.
The sweet breakfast scent you’re smelling might come from the coolant. Your car’s coolant is most likely leaking from the cooling system.
It will wreak havoc on your vehicle if left untreated, including overheating. The best course of action is to pull over and get your car towed to the nearest mechanic.
The Musty Smell of Mold and Mildew
It’s really hard to drive when you smell the musty scent of mold and mildew. The smell can either come from the upholstery or the air conditioning system.
Removing moldy smells in your car seat is easy. You mix eight parts vinegar to two parts water and spray it on the seats.
There are different car cleaners out there, but they’re a bit pricey. The vinegar mixture is the most effective and cheapest.
If the breeze coming out of your air conditioning is musty, you might want your mechanic to check it out. The problem lies inside the ventilation system, so don’t go prying around inside if you’re not well-versed with automobile anatomy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Knowing different kinds of bad car smells and the reasons behind them are always handy pieces of information. But if you’re still scratching your head, here are some of the frequently asked questions:
Can I Drive My Car If It Smells Like Burning?
Well, the question is a bit subjective. The answer relies on the root of the problem.
If the burning oil smell comes from a dirty heating system, you may be able to continue driving. However, if it’s particularly strong or suggests a major problem, you may want to stop driving altogether.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix the Smell?
Another subjective question. It all depends on what caused the burning oil smell.
If it’s because of a PCV valve, you can just shell out a couple of bucks. But if we’re talking about a blown gasket, it can set you back more than a hundred dollars.
Will changing the engine oil remove the smell?
The smell could come from old or dirty old engine oil that builds up inside. However, it isn’t necessarily the solution or the primary cause of the burnt oil smell.
Changing your car’s oil will not guarantee that the burning smell will go away.
What Does Burning Brake Fluid Smell Like?
You’ll smell some burning fish oil when your brake fluid is leaking. Brake fluid leaks are usually found in the center or rear wheels.
It would be best to get your car checked immediately before your brake doesn’t work and causes accidents.
How Would You Describe The Smell Of Burning Oil?
The smell is a bit challenging to describe. It’s not exceptionally strong or foul-smelling, but it’s distinct.
You’ll know something smells different when there is burning oil. Moreover, the smell will linger even when you’re outside the vehicle.
Keep Your Car Free From Smelly Problems
Hopefully, this article enlightens you on why your car smells like burning oil after driving. You can now say, “why does my car smell so good!”
Kidding aside, keep in mind the tell-tale signs of different smelly car problems to snip them in their buds.
Moreover, always remember that it’s important that your car has a regular check-up. As Amit Kalantri once said, “take care of your car, and the car will take care of you.”