Health and Beauty

Identifying and Eliminating Bad Odors

Bad Odors

After investing thousands of dollars into your vehicle, the last thing you want is a car that smells every time you drive it. It’s even worse when you have no idea why it smells or where it is coming from. Lucky for you, certain stenches often mean certain problems, making it easier to diagnose and fix the issue. While some smells are normal, some are not. Take a look at the following list to see if you have a reason to be concerned about the stink in your vehicle.

Bad Odors


If your car smells like a pile of pancakes covered in maple syrup, you may have a problem. Unless someone recently devoured flapjacks in your passenger seat, the issue most likely lies in your coolant. When coolant from somewhere in your vehicle, it produces a sweet smell much like syrup. If the smell is especially strong outside the vehicle, you may have a leak somewhere in the radiator or engine compartment. If it is stronger inside, your coolant may be leaking into your heater/defroster. No matter where the smell is coming from, you should get it checked out by a professional as soon as possible.

Rotten Eggs

The smell of rotten eggs is not pleasant, especially when it lingers in your vehicle for days on end. If you’re lucky, the smell may be a problem with the fuel injection. If so, it can be fixed by a professional who really knows what he is doing. Unfortunately, however, the issue generally lies with the catalytic converter. If the converter gets flooded with fuel, it produces a rotten egg smell. This usually means you will need a new, costly converter.

Dirty Socks

Assuming you don’t use your vehicle as a laundry basket, the smell of dirty socks is not normal. If the smell appears when you turn on your heat or air conditioning, the problem most likely resides in the a/c filter. When the air conditioner runs for a long time it tends to sweat, leaving a musty smell. Try turning off the a/c and letting the fan run to air out the system. Make sure to get your filter replaced at least once a year to avoid mildew and keep the air in your vehicle clean.

Burnt Carpet

Burnt carpet isn’t a common smell, but if the stench fills your car, something is wrong. The smell of burnt carpet is usually an indicator that your brake pads are overheated, which is common if your coming off a big hill or mountainous area. This can usually be fixed by letting the brakes cool off. However, if the smell persists, get your brakes checked out immediately.

Most people can tell the difference between a normal car smell and an abnormal one. Be sure to pay attention to odd smells and get them diagnosed when needed. Problems left unattended can put both you and your car in danger. So keep your nose on high alert to keep your car in check!

Written by Marc Laferriere, owner of Dents Unlimited, where he and his expert staff provide the best auto repair Columbia MO has to offer. Follow us to keep up to date with automotive industry news and tips!

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