What causes burning smells in your vehicle?

Inside your car are many moving components that work together and create friction. These components don’t last forever and are often prone to wear due to high amounts of heat and pressure.

A noticeable burning smell can point to one of your car’s components is becoming worn. A worn component can cause more damage to your vehicle over time, meaning it is important to determine the source of the smell.


Common causes of burning smells

Worn clutch – If you notice a burning smell when switching gears, while accelerating or towing your clutch may be worn. The clutch has many parts that press against each other. If one of these parts becomes warped or bent, excess heat and friction will be created, resulting in burning.

Worn brake components – Heavy brake use can cause the friction material on the brake pads to overheat. This should be avoided because it will cause your brake pads and rotors to wear more quickly, reducing their effectiveness. A stuck brake caliper can also cause a burning smell. The brake caliper may have stopped working, causing the brakes to drag.

Burning oil smell – If you have an oil leak, it may drip onto your exhaust, producing a burning smell. If this regularly happens, you may need to have the oil leak fixed. A lack of oil can also cause a burning smell as your engine overheats and gets closer to seizing up. This will do damage to your engine very quickly.

Lack of engine coolant – If your engine coolant (water and antifreeze) are too low in your engine cooling system, then the engine will overheat and create a burning smell

Overheating Catalytic Converter – if too much unburnt fuel (rich mixture) enters the Catalytic Converter in your exhaust system it can overheat, and cause permanent damage to itself. Catalytic Converter’s are normally around $600 to $1000 to replace, so you need to keep your car serviced regularly to avoid this problem. Often we the Catalytic Converter starts overheating or failing a light will turn on your dashboard warning you.

Tyres rubbing – Sometimes there can be damage or obstruction around the wheels and wheel arches that causes something to rub against one of your tyres. This can often be as simple as a vehicle mudflap being bent from going over a curb, or hitting an obstacle.

Damaged electrical component – A short circuit can produce a burning smell. This is due to the melting/burning of wires, wire coating, and fuses. Depending on the type of short circuit, you may experience problems with your battery, alternator or ignition or any other vehicle electrical system.


Burning Vehicle Smell – Inspection & Diagnostics in Hamilton

Is your vehicle producing a burning smell? If so, we can diagnose and fix the problem for you.

Worn clutch components, brake pads and faulty wiring and so on can limit your vehicle’s driveability, affect your safety and cause more damage over time. Therefore, it is always best to get problems diagnosed and fixed sooner rather than later.

At Grimmer Motors, our experienced team of mechanics are skilled at diagnosing these types of burning smell problems. This means that we spend more time fixing the problem than determining what’s wrong with it. For fast, quality car diagnostics in Hamilton, contact us today!


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