Troubleshooting Car Engine Smells

Paying attention to the scents that your vehicle omits is important. Certain smells can be an indication of an issues, sometimes a more severe one that will need to be addressed quickly.

If you do notice a strange smell one day while driving, especially if it's coming from under the hood, here are some tips on how to troubleshoot the smell: 

Rotten Eggs

Rotten eggs is never a good sign. This is usually an indiciate of a bad catalytic converter. The catalytic converter has the important job of converting harmful gases from your vehicle's engine into less harmful ones. A bad converter will cause your vehicle to omit harmful gases and damage other important parts within the emissions system. 


A moldy or mildew smell is usually an indication of an air conditoning issue. The a/c system can actually start to grow mold or mildew if the drain is blocked and water is sitting in the system. Mold is very unheathly to inhale, so this should be inspected immediately. 


A syrup-y smell usually points to a coolant leak. A coolant leak is an immediate issue, because the lack of coolant can cause your engine to overheat. 

Smoke or Burning Oil

The smell of burning oil or smoke point to an oil leak, which can be dangerous. It can lead to a damaged engine or vehicle fire. 

Burnt Rubber

Burnt rubber can point to a belt slipping or a melting belt, which both need to be addressed quickly. A timing belt slip can actually cause major engine damage and stop your vehicle from running completely. 

There are many different smells that can occur with your vehicle. The most important thing you can do if you smell something off is 1) note down the smell 2) remember where it is coming from and when it happens and 3) bring your vehicle into 26th Street Auto Center for an immediate vehicle inspection to get the issue repaired ASAP!

26th Street Auto Center is committed to ensuring effective communication and digital accessibility to all users. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and apply the relevant accessibility standards to achieve these goals. We welcome your feedback. Please call 26th Street Auto Center (310) 746-4737 if you have any issues in accessing any area of our website.