‘My Car Smells Like Rotten Eggs’ and 6 Other Odors That Signal a Problem

Properly maintaining your car is one of the best things to do to ensure that it lasts for a long time. Car maintenance isn’t easy, but diagnosing a problem before it becomes more serious can be. Here are 7 car odors that you should be aware of that are signs that your car may be in trouble.

Rotten eggs

If you’re in or near your car and you smell rotten eggs, then that could be a sign that your vehicle’s catalytic converter is not working properly. This is the most common cause of rotten eggs smells in cars, as the catalytic converter deals with the same chemicals that rotten eggs are made of.

However, it’s possible that there are other reasons why your car smells like that. For example, if your engine is overheating or if your fuel pressure regulator is broken, then they both can also give off a rotten egg smell. Either way, if you smell rotten eggs in your car, the best thing to do is to take it to a mechanic.

Maple syrup

If you smell something sweet and similar to maple syrup after your car’s been running for a bit, then that’s likely a sign that your car’s coolant is leaking. It’s also possible that there is a problem with the vehicle’s heater core, but in any case, if you do smell maple syrup in your car, bring it to a mechanic.

Burnt paper

A burnt paper smell in your car is likely a sign that your clutch is in danger of failing. This is because the clutch facings are actually paper-based, and they can burn if you use the clutch in the wrong way and cause too much heating to occur. If you smell this in your car, you will probably have to replace your clutch.

Gym socks

If your car smells terrible after you turn on the air conditioner, then that may be a sign that mildewis growing inside the A/C. This isn’t a car-threatening smell and if you turn off the A/C and dry the system out, then that should take care of the mildew. 

Burnt oil

This smell can be the sign of many things, so you may need to do a lot more work than just smelling around. A burnt oil smell can be because your oil is leaking and it’s coming into contact with something hot and that’s causing it to burn.

It can also be because you’re running low on transmission fluids. Not having enough fluids can cause your gears to overheat and thus, create a burnt oil smell. How you can fix these issues will depend on what’s causing the smell, but a visit to the mechanic can’t hurt in either scenario.

Burnt carpet

A burnt carpet smell in your car is very likely a sign that your brake pads are overheated. This can be caused by poor driving technique or just by leaving the handbrake on. Depending on how severe the damage to your brake pads are, they may just need rest or you may need to replace them entirely.

A gas station

If the interior of your car smells like a gas station, it’s very likely because raw gasoline is leaking somewhere inside your car. This can be extremely dangerous, as leaks in your car’s fuel system can cause your vehicle to explode. The best thing to do in this case is to get a mechanic to visit your home and inspect your car and fix the issue if possible. 

That said, if your car was made before the ’80s, then it’s probably not a fuel system leak, it’s just part of the design of the car.