Burning Oil Smell: Find the Culprit!

Does your car smell like burning oil, like what you'd smell off of old-world lamps? This common burning smell is probably one you've heard before. It's when the oil from your exhaust leaks out that you'll tend to smell of oil all over your car from the inside and outside.

This burning oil smell can't be gotten rid of by merely airing out your car or masking the odor with perfume. You should be able to remove the odor altogether by knowing the source of the problem and addressing it.

The Sources of the Oily Smell

  • Changing Oil: Excess oil can drip into the exhaust system if the changing oil job on your car is not properly executed. The mechanic should take care in making sure that there's no excess oil dripping into the exhaust, causing the familiar scent. The burning usually comes from the heat from the engine warming up, which burns the out-of-place oil and causes that pungent aroma all over your vehicle. Once the leakage or spill is dealt with, the oil should completely burn up and the scent from the car will disappear eventually.
  • Loose Oil Filter: Your oil filter can also be loose, which naturally results in oil spillage. The filter can end up in this condition because it's loosely driven by rugged road bumps or it wasn't properly installed in the first place. When oil is burned, the oil smell will fill your vehicle. Other indications that your filter is loose include the fact that there are oil puddles under your car. This problem can be fixed immediately by having a mechanic check where the leaks are coming from and sealing them thusly.
  • Oil Plug Damage: The burning oil smell can also be caused by oil plug damage. The pan has a plug you're supposed to use to drain the oil when fixing your car. If that plug is damaged, the oil will naturally leak all over the place and then cause the burning oil smell once it comes into contact with the heat of your engine. This will also result in puddles of oil whenever your car is parked. This situation should be addressed and corrected post-haste so that your vehicle doesn't run out of oil and whatnot.
  • Failing Gaskets: If too many oil leakages occur on your car that has accrued quite a bit of mileage, then it might be because of broken or malfunctioning engine cushions. You can also have oil leak out due to poor connections or bad oil seals. As the situation gets worse, your car will continuously smell of burning oil. These gaskets, o-rings, and pads (oil pads and valve pads in particularly prone to damage) are scattered throughout the engine, requiring replacement.

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