That new car smell is one of the sensory pleasures you get when driving your new purchase of the lot for the first time. While that smell will soon disappear, over time, you may notice other car odors making their way the passenger compartment, especially after your odometer has made many, many rotations — some more concerning than others. Here are a few smells that can indicate car problems you need to address before they grow into bigger issues.
One of the more obnoxious odors that can infiltrate the cabin comes from malfunctioning catalytic converters, in particular those that have become clogged. A sulfurous smell usually indicates this vital emission-control piece has reached its end of life and is ready to be recycled into catalytic converter scrap. Note, however, that sometimes you may be smelling the emissions from a car you are tailing.
If you smell your car’s exhaust while stopped at a light, you need to be concerned. This smell can indicate you have a leak in your pipe that allows dangerous fumes to creep through your floorboards or vents. Many cars will smell exhausty when cold-started since initial combustion can be incomplete. You need to be concerned if the smell lingers well after your engine is warmed up.
Burning coming from under the hood can come from a variety of sources; if you have just had your oil changed, the smell is likely produced by metal heating up splashed petroleum. Rubber or electrical odors are more concerning. The cause may be that of lines or wires resting against hot engine parts, or it could be a short in the electrical system. Have a mechanic check out your car in any case.
These are just a few automobile smells that you may experience over a lifetime of driving. While these are some of the more concerning ones, you should have any new smell checked out to ensure your car remains reliable and safe.