Car Smells Can Indicate Specific Car Problems

April 30th, 2016 by

car smell problems

Tomorrow is National Sense of Smell Day, which is an annual observance sponsored by the Sense of Smell Institute. Not only is a sense of smell important to us when it comes to survival, but it is also a sense that strongly attaches to memories which have the power to invoke feelings, whether good or bad. When it comes to cars, smells can tell us a lot about our car and can be an indication of future problems.

So in case you are smelling something funny, in or around your car, read below to find out what type of problem that four different smells might indicate.

Maple Syrup

Ever smell a sweet smell from your car after your engine has been on for a few minutes or after you have shut it off? The smell could indicate a leak in coolant containing ethylene glycol. There are a variety of locations where this leak could be, but the radiator and radiator parts may be involved.

Mildew, Gym Socks or a Locker Room

If your car always has a musty smell resembling a locker room or the smell of wet clothes, it is possible that there is some type of blockage or leak in your A/C system. If you always have this smell present, check the floor of your passenger seat — is it wet? If so, this is most-likely from a leak or blockage in your A/C evaporator drain line. This problem can be fixed by a mechanic unclogging the line, but it may come back in the future. If it does return, you may need to explore a more invasive option.


The smell of gasoline could be from a bad gas line, bad fuel injector line or a leaky gas tank. The smell of fuel indicates a potential ignition hazard, so an immediate repair should be considered.

Sulfur / Rotten Eggs

This distinct and unpleasant smell could be a problem with your catalytic converter. This smell comes from the converter not converting the hydrogen sulfide in the exhaust to sulfur dioxide properly. This smell can also be attributed to a poor running engine, causing the catalytic converter to become overloaded and fail due to meltdown.

Posted in Car Tips