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Does Your Car Smell Strange? Here’s the Reason Why

make car smell betterAs a vehicle owner, there’s nothing worse than a foul odor covering up that unmistakable new car smell. Worse, whatever is the cause of the odor could make you sick or lead to unnecessarily expensive repairs. If your car smells strange, be sure to follow your nose and determine if it’s one of the following reasons:

  • Mold. Mold loves to hide in the depths of your ventilation and heating system. If you suspect the foul odor in your car is coming from mold, be sure to take it to your mechanic to get it looked at. Your cabin filter or evaporator might need to be replaced immediately. The evaporator is basically like a small radiator that moves refrigerant to the dashboard of your car through its vents.
  • Must. If your car starts to smell musty when you turn on your air conditioner, mold or mildew is likely building up inside of it. The evaporator is a natural collector of moisture because of the nature of cold air conditioning – and can cause mold. If you think this is the case, run your fan at its high speed with the air conditioning off – no AC or high heat. This will help to dry your car’s evaporator, which will rid it of the mildew and the smell. If you try this and it doesn’t work or if the smell comes back, the issue could be deeper than that. There could be a clog in your drain tube that is allowing water to drip out under your vehicle and cause it to smell strange. This also happens with wet carpets.
  • Sweet. No, it’s not pancakes being served curbside – it is something much more dangerous and serious. If you smell a sweet, almost syrupy odor that typically means your antifreeze is leaking. What’s worse, antifreeze leaks are usually hard to see – so have your auto shop address this issue immediately.
  • Burning. If you smell something burning, it could either be oil leaking into your engine or your brake pads and rotors overheating. If you drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, your clutch plate could be worn and overheating if you ride the clutch pedal.
  • Rotten eggs. The smell of rotten eggs or sulfur usually means a malfunctioning catalytic converter that overheats due to emissions systems or engine issues.
  • Electrical. If you smell burnt toast, your insulation might be overheating or your electrical components might be short-circuiting.
  • Burnt rubber. If you smell burning rubber, it could be your accessory drive belt getting damaged by a malfunctioning hose or pulley that is rubbing against one of your engine’s moving parts. Clutch plates that overheat also will give off a smell of burnt rubber.

No matter what the strange smell is in your vehicle, it’s a good idea to get it looked at by a professional mechanic. If you identify one of these strange smells in your European luxury vehicle or supercar, give the experts here at Otto’s European a call and address the issue immediately – or it might get worse.

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