Diagnose your car's annoying smells & How to remove bad odor from your car

Updated Nov 24, 2017 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips

Find out some common smells in car that you need to pay attention.

New cars usually have its own smell which can’t completely be described by words. With many people, that smell brings the feeling of freshness and sometimes it actually smells good. But time by time, your car starts to scent some bad or even annoying smells. These smells are telling you that there might be something wrong with your car.

The problems could be inside or outside the car:

  • Inside factors include: bad functioning of the heater, oil leaking, malfunctioning convert, etc;
  • Outside factors could be from cigarette smoke or the food you have been forgetting cleaning up for a long time. The latter is easier to fix by using the interior vacuum, doing a car clean with some deodorant materials. However, the smell of cigarette is very difficult to remove completely and it can even significantly reduces the resale value of your car. Read our article here to know about Lesser-known harmful effects of smoking in cars

Getting rid of the smells that are caused by mechanical problems, otherwise, requires some experience. Just like some people have the talented ears to know which part of the engine is damaged by noticing the sounds of it, some car owners can detect the problems through their nose. With this article, Philkotse.com will show you some symptoms to diagnose your car smells. Although the process from beginner to an expert is not that easy, understanding the problems and its signs can save you some time in the future.

These tips are gathered from some useful car tips and advice of seasoned drivers and mechanic, so we assure to give out as helpful tips as possible to you.

What's That Smell? Your Car's Smell Can Help Diagnosis a Problem

1. Smell of sweet

First to say, make sure this does not come from sweet food you left inside months ago. If you insist it doesn’t, then this is a case of mechanic problem, coolant system to be exact.

Working under high level performance in a quite long time, the engine of your car will get hotter and hotter after time. To prevent it from overheating, the radiator plays an important role in reducing the temperature.

The mixture fluid used to do that is made from a chemical material called ethylene glycol, which has the sweet smell as some kind of syrups. If you could smell that somewhere, then chances are that fluid is leaking from some of these positions: radiator cap, heater hose, cylinder head or intake gasket.

Coolant fluid leaking

Coolant fluid leaking makes you feel the smell of sweet

2. Smell of acrid acid

If you have ever pressed the gas and the brake pedal at the same time, you must stop it right now. Because that bad habit will make the friction between the brake pad and clutch more furious. And that is where the burning smell comes from. The other reason might be that the clutch slipped off the original position and need to be adjusted. If it does, then you should replace the new one. Otherwise, the solution is simple that you change the way you use the brake as said above.

Car brake pads

Using brake carelessly causes it to smell like acid

3. Smell of burnt oil

The smell exactly names the problem here. That is the smell of leaking oil dripping on the exhaust system and being burnt. Car oil is basically inorganic chemical, so the smell of burnt oil is absolutely acrid, you will notice it right away. In case you are having a flu and not able to smell, notice the problem by the kind of blue smoke, it is pretty thick and noticeable.

leaking oil in a car

Machine oil has the smell of burnt and shows the sign of oil leaking

4. Smell of rotten eggs

That is actually the smell of sulfur gas known as H2S. The problem highly comes from the malfunctioning catalytic converter which is the main component used to stabilize the exhaust gasses. Technically, catalytic converter converts some toxic gasses from the process of burning fuel into less harmful gasses before they spread out to the air. When the converter is not working as it is supposed to, it generates sulfur gasses which have the smell of rotten eggs.

The good news is that you can replace the converter in order to stop the bad hum to spread out. But there is also bad news that this device costs an arm and a leg. It is worse if your car is out of assurance coverage from the manufacturer. If that is the case, you must spend a lot of money on this.

In case this is not caused by the bad catalytic converter, then the other problem is about the lubricants leaking somewhere. These lubricants can usually be found in the manual transmissions. To be sure, check for the transmission the find the leaking, then replace the new lubricants and the problem will be solved.

Malfunctioning converter

Malfunctioning converter sends out the smell of rotten eggs

5. Smell of a gas leaking

Some people may have never felt the smell of gas. But you can easily notice when it shows up because of its acrid chemical smell. You won’t like it as well. Normally, old-school cars send out a small amount of gas, fortunately this is not harmful. Otherwise, if you own a modern car, this is a sign to show that your car is encountering a seriously big problem.

There are several possible causes, such as: The fuel pressure regulators old or damaged, blocked injector, of the vent of fuel tank is exposed. It is impossible to list all the reasons, so you’d better take your car to mechanic services to find the actual problem as soon as possible.

6. Smell of musty wooden

If your car is sending out the musty smell, probably it has been damaged by the high humidity environment or by your carelessness to let the water have the chance to get inside your car. Carefully check every edges or corners which most likely for the water to condense, especially near the door and where you probably drop out the water. The water condensing in the air-conditioner could also be a cause. Check and clean that up more regularly to prevent the musty smell. Keep in mind that, driving inside a musty car will adversely harm your respiratory system.

How to blow the bad odor away from your car

1. Making good habit of frequently clean your car up

Although vacuuming can’t solve all the smell problems in your car, especially with mechanic ones, it still keeps the interior cleaner and you will feel much comfortable and healthier. Also, it can help you say goodbye to some of the horrible odors of rotten food you left before. Here is a checklist for car interior cleaning that you might find helpful for your frequent clean up.

2. Baking soda is one of the most effective cleaning material

For some stubborn sediments which require more than just vacuuming, you can use baking soda – a friendly chemical material with high level of oxidization. Simply water the position on where the dregs refuse to leave, then dust a little of baking soda on top of that position, leave it there for few minutes and scrub. You would be surprised by how quick the sediments get gone.

In case, this is also not enough, ion generators or air purifies would be your last try at home. These are better and more professional than the previous, but sometimes they don’t work the way you want.

Ion generator

Ion generators help purify the air inside your car

3. Let experts handle

There are tons of car cleaning services everywhere, they will help you find the solution. With all the state-of-the-art cleaning techniques, perhaps, they will figure out the best option to clean the car up. This is your last shot to perfume your car back again. Usually, the will use something like ozone-generator. But ozone is actually not good for human, especially for amateurs. So, it would be better to let the professional make it their ways.

This is all of our advices on how to understand your car smell as well as some ways to maintain your car. We hope you like this article as if it is helpful to you.