Burning Plastic Smell: Where is it coming from?

Is there a burning plastic smell inside your car? Maybe it's VOCs or volatile organic compounds that give a newly bought vehicle that new car smell.

You can get rid of the disgusting odor by airing it out, using activated charcoal to absorb the smell, and/or getting KevianClean Interior Defense to clean out the insides so that the scent could be cleaned out in case it got stuck on your seats and upholstery.

However, what if the nauseating burning plastic smell is actually a warning sign that something is amiss with your vehicle?

Causes for the Burning Plastic Smell within Your Car

  • What Can Be Done About It?

In order to fix the smell issue, you must first identify what's causing it. Sometimes, you can fix issues on your own if you have some training or experience in giving vehicular first-aid. In other instances, you must stop your vehicle immediately and bring it to the nearest car repair shop as soon as you smell that something is amiss.

Essentially, it can either be an electronics issue or something stuck within your heater. It's also possible that the burning plastic smell is related to malfunctioning parts from under the hood  or within your dashboard like fans, resistors, or other electronic devices that can overheat to high temperatures.

  • Smell from the Heater

If you smell something burning, check the heater. It could smell that way due to dust accumulation in the system if you haven't used it for so long and you suddenly decide to turn it on. If you're using the heater regularly and the smell still remains, the vent might be clogged with some debris instead. Replace the air filters, use antibacterial products on the vents, and check the fuel lines or heater for leaks.

Some mechanics have actually found plastic bags and other objects stuck in the engine, causing it to smell like burning plastic because it literally is doing just that. However, if the heater itself is broken and the antifreeze is leaking into the vents, a similar smell can be produced. Worse, some parts of the heater could have melted as well, causing that aroma to waft inside your car.

  • Electrical Short Problem:

If there's an electrical short circuit in your engine then that could also cause a burning plastic smell within your vehicle as you drive it. The burning plastic in this case would come from the fuses, wires or other connections that are on fire or melting due to heat. Again, it's literally plastic that's burning in your car.

During such cases, it's best that you go to your mechanic to fix the electrical system by diagnosing which parts need replacement and installing what needs to be installed to troubleshoot the issue. This is needed to avoid any major problems when running your car. A technician can also use your car's computer system to identify where the electrical short happened.

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