Your Car Smells Like Burning Rubber?

your car smells like burning rubber


If you use your car regularly, you might have already experienced smelling unpleasant odours from its engine. And that’s perfectly natural. Your car, no matter how new, is bound to experience some issues depending on how much you use it and how you maintain it.

If you’ve ever experienced a time when your car smells like burning rubber, we advise you don’t ignore it. There can be some reasons as to why this is happening. Some can be either an indication of minor or major issues. Here are some things we think you need to know.

The Possible Reasons

Just as we mentioned earlier, there are lots of possible reasons as to why your car engine might be smelling like burning rubber. However, based on experience, this happens very often to manual transmission vehicles.

The Clutch

For manual vehicles, the burning rubber that you are smelling might be your clutch. When you don’t change gears properly, the surface of the grip tends to burn off from too much friction. Take note of this as this might mean you have to get your clutch replaced.

fixing problem the clutch of the car

To further explain, the burning caused by your grip will also produce a distinct smell. Mainly, the scent is like a burning newspaper. The reason for this is because the clutch has a paper-like composition inside of it.

That is the first recipient of heat when you’re shifting gears the wrong way, ultimately creating friction. If we were to dissect the clutch, this burning happens at the surface. The outer layer of the clutch slips upon shifting, causing it to burn due to friction.

However, this is not limited to standard vehicles only. Automatic transmission vehicles can also have instances of producing a burning rubber smell. Here are some more possible reasons.

Your Car Brakes

Aside from the clutch, this can also happen because of your vehicle brakes. When you’re braking too hard, especially when driving down through very steep hills, this can happen.

driving down the hill

Do not be surprised if your brakes seem to start smoking. There are times when this is considered normal, but if it occurs too often, there might be a problem with your caliper piston.

Burning Oil

One of the substances in your car that has a strong smell is the oil you use for the engine. Should the motor oil in your vehicle slip down to a hot component in the vehicle, it can produce a smell.

The burning smell that you’ll often smell out of this incident is more of a gaseous smell. Fortunately, motor oil is not designed to ignite upon contact with heat. However, it is still dangerous, and the smell is unpleasant.

That usually happens when your vehicle leaks somewhere in the engine. As you should know, the engine makes use of oil throughout the block and heads. Should you have an oil leak, this can make contact with hot surfaces such as the exhaust. Upon contact, the oil will start to burn, causing a foul smell.

Short circuits

Short circuiting throughout your vehicle is a significant possibility. The engine relies on fuel and oil. However, the other parts such as the ignition coil, headlights, and dashboard make use of electricity.

For the car to transmit the power, it starts off with a battery that is then grounded and connected to a series of relays. Each relay has fuses, which as you know, can explode. Not to mention, the wirings spread throughout the car are vulnerable to damage too.

Should the burning happen simultaneously with an electrical problem, this could be the culprit. For instance, the rubber that’s covering your wires could have been tangled up. That can cause it to heat up, which will eventually melt the rubber.

On the other hand, the fuses can blow up too as previously mentioned. That will cause both a subtle burning smell and malfunctioning of an electric component in your car. These particular instances can be tricky, so be on the lookout regarding your vehicle’s electrical components.

Misaligned Engine Components

For melting rubber, this situation can also happen in your car’s engine. Particularly, it’s possible that a poorly installed component can burn should it make contact with heat.

One of the most common parts that can suffer this are the hoses. When we install and remove parts in the engine, we take off several hose connections first. That is true especially when you’re dealing with the engine block and spark plugs.

Read more:

heater hoses

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Now, if we hastily connect the hoses, this can cause it to loosen over time. Since engine parts are always moving, the rubber part of the hose can align itself on top of a hot surface. If you don’t check your engine frequently, this can go unnoticed. Once you start smelling rubber, you might see that the cause is a melted hose under your hood.

Brake Pads

Last but not the least are your vehicle’s tires. There’s no bigger rubber component in an automobile apart from the tires, so you’re bound to suspect this. However, it might surprise you that the burning smell might be inside the wheels and not the actual tire.

The presence of the brake pads could be the cause. The brake pads thin out over time, and if you abuse this too much, it can burn off. The moment you feel your brakes weakening, immediately replace the brake pads. It prevents you from burning it off via friction towards the wheels.

In a Nutshell

So, a lot of other causes may cause your car to smell like burning rubber. The ones we listed below are the most shared and significant reasons. Keeping this in mind, you should be more attentive to the maintenance and inspection of your vehicle.

Remember, the best cure is prevention. A burning smell is simply a case of irresponsibility. Thus, as long as you’re careful, you should be able to avoid this situation. Good luck and don’t forget to share this with your friends!

Steven K. Galloway