How Do I Get Bad Smells Out of My Car?

Photo of an Air Freshener that Gets Rid of Bad Car Smells

Does your car stink? Does the smell refuse to go away no matter how much you wash your car or get the interior detailed? This lingering odor could be a sign that your car has a significant mechanical issue. Here is what you need to know about bad car smells and how it affects your automobile’s health.

Musty/Moldy Car Smells

If the air blowing from your air vents smells stale or moldy, then your car could simply need a filter change. Cabin air filters can get clogged with leaves or start growing mold or bacteria if not changed regularly. If you’ve replaced your air filter recently, then the problem may be in the pipes and air vents of your vehicle. When these parts don’t drain properly, mold and fungus can grow inside of them. To fix this issue, you may need a professional to disassemble part of your air conditioning (A/C) system to clean it with professional grade solvents.

The Smell of Burning Plastic/Oil

Anytime you smell something burning, there could be a serious problem with your car. Take it to an experienced auto technician right away. If your car smells of burning rubber or plastic, it could indicate climate control blower issues. A faulty resistor or a component that is rubbing in the blower could be causing this bad car smell. However, the issue could be worse. Burning smells can also indicate oil leaks in your engine, overheated brakes or clutches, or even hoses that are melting or burning.

Rotten Eggs Smell

Does it smell like someone hid an Easter egg in your back seat and forgot about it for a few weeks? Well, if you’ve combed your entire car and still can’t find that egg, it could be an exhaust issue. If the catalytic converter on your vehicle has gone bad, it can produce hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs. Another car problem that can produce a bad egg smell is old gear lube in manual transmissions or differentials. You should definitely bring your car in for a proper diagnostic if this smell just won’t go away.

Is That Gas You Smell?

If you smell gas when you turn on your A/C unit, then you probably have a gas leak under the hood. A damaged fuel line or a busted “O” ring in the fuel injector may be the culprit. No matter what the cause, it is important to get a fuel leak fixed right away. Leaking gas can catch on fire and it can be corrosive to certain materials like rubber and plastic. If gas eats away at the right seals, you could have an even larger repair bill on your hands.

What Smells Sweet?

Not all the odors that indicate an automotive problem stink. For example, if you smell something sweet like maple syrup when you turn the A/C on, it might indicate a coolant leak. Ethylene glycol, also known as antifreeze, often has a sweet smell when it burns. However, this substance is toxic. Pets often enjoy the taste of antifreeze, but the liquid can kill them, so it’s important to clean up any leaks as soon as they’re discovered.

Where Do You Go for Automotive Repairs?

To learn more about your car, and getting the most out of it, keep following Kirberg Motors’ Blog. Our San Mateo County auto repair shop has been helping drivers keep their engines running for over 50 years. Our shop can handle any auto, but we specialize in German autos such as Porsche, Volkswagen, BMW and more. To find out what our Diamond Certified shop can do for your ride, call us at (650)336-5911 or fill out our online appointment form.

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