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Smelling Smoke, Is Your Car Burning?

There could be several reasons behind a car burning smell. Such a smell usually comes when two surfaces rub against each other. Stop your car immediately the moment it happens.

Here’s what could have possibly happened to your car if you smell something burning.


Car Burning Smell

Many times, the car burning smell may come from the clutch. It happens whenever you shift gears. The smell is usually similar to that of a burning newspaper. The clutch’s face burns off when it slips. It smells papery because the surface of the clutch is a type of paper mesh. It’s important to learn using the clutch properly. As a thumb rule, don’t ride the clutch; doing this often leads to replacing the clutch entirely.

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car burning smell

Your brakes can emit a car burning smell. It happens if you ride the brakes hard. While going down a steep hill with the brakes slammed hard, the friction may burn the brakes leading to the emission of smoke. It’s not a problem if it happens rarely. But take it seriously if the smell is more regular. A caliper piston could have seized, causing the brakes to drag. You need to take your car to the mechanic. Leaving the hand brakes up, while driving, is another reason behind burnt brakes.

Electrical short

A major cause of car burning smell is the electrical short circuit in the engine. The plastic coating on wires, fuses, or other connections may produce the smell. Fix the electrical system to avoid major problems running the car. Take your car to the garage. The inspector would connect the engine to a computer which will immediately identify the problem.

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Smell from the heater

car burning smell

Check the heater if you smell something burning. There could be dust accumulation in the system if you haven’t used the heater since long. But if the smell comes even after you use the heater regularly, then you may have particles or some debris clogging the vent. People often find plastic bags and other objects stuck in the engine, causing the burning smell. Maybe the heater itself is broken and the antifreeze is leaking into the vents. This could be causing the burning smell. Worse still, some part of the heater could be broken or have melted to cause the smell. It usually happens with the heater’s motor. If the smell gets stronger and you find no debris stuck to the vent, immediately take your car to the mechanic. Get the heater checked along with other suspected parts.  

Burning oil

This is one of the most common causes of car burning smell. You may have an oil leak. This often causes the oil to enter the exhaust pipe. The pipe is hot while the car is running and you may get a strong smell. It’s a common phenomenon while driving uphill when you have to rev the engine more. The smoke is often visible when you step out of the car and check the exhaust pipe. There could be fumes as well because of the burning oil.

Whatever be the cause, never ignore a car burning smell. It may lead to bigger damages.

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