Burning Rubber Smell in Car: What to Do

There are many reasons behind the burning smell from under the hood of your car. Once you do smell something strange within your vehicle, it's best that you have it serviced at your nearest dealership or auto repair shop post-haste for your car's own safety.

Any number of things could be malfunctioning on your vehicle. These stinky odors tend to be produced by a few technical problems in your car that should be monitored by your on-board diagnostic system or car computer and alerted to you by the check engine light.

Reasons for a Burning Rubber Smell from Your Car

  • Clutch Problem
Your clutch may be burning or melting from excessive use and friction. The more you shift gears and use the clutch pedal for stopping, the more the heat will get to your clutch and cause it to smell like burning rubber or newspaper.

    The smell comes from the clutch face burning or melting off whenever it slips. The rubbery or newspaper-in-flames smell comes from the clutch's surface that's made of paper mesh. If your clutch is worn, it should be replaced immediately to ensure no slippage and smooth transitions.

    • Oil Leakage Complication
    This is one of the most common reasons why there's a burning rubber smell from your vehicle. It might be caused by an oil leak. This happens whenever the oil enters the exhaust pipe, resulting in a strong smell and white smoke from the pipe.

      Stop the engine, jack the car up, and observe the vehicle to find where the leaks are. Or you can drive to the nearest auto service shop so that they can identify where the leaks are and handle the repairs. Don't continue driving and risk more damage to your vehicle.

      • Drive Belt Melting Issue
      The rubber smell from under your hood could be your drive belt burning or melting. This typically happens when the accessories of the drive such as the AC compressor, water pump, air pump, or generator is locked.

        When this happens, your drive belt will spin on a frozen pulley, which should in turn cause friction and burning to happen. Naturally, a melting drive belt will produce a rubbery and burnt smell. It also comes with strange sounds. To prevent this, have your car checked every 6 months.

        • Coolant Leaks and Whatnot
        Your heater core might expel coolant into the A/C or heating system, otherwise known as the HVAC system, which then results in a burning rubber smell within your vehicle. This can cost you a lot of money to fix if this is the case.

          Another indicator of a coolant leak is if your A/C isn't working at all or working at a reduced capacity. You should have your cooler checked by a professional to identify any cracks on it. Even the smallest of cracks can leave huge repair expenses and dangers while you're driving.

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