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Smells that might indicate your car needs a check-up.

If you have a sensitive sniffer like I do, any scent or smell stands out. From the scent of perfume or cologne to the rotting orange you find in your daughters bedroom in her backpack, scents can give you clues to the things around you. Could be true about your car odors as well.

I mean, if you have kids there's no counting the variety of scents rolling through your car. We've all been there. Lift the car seat to find an old chicken nugget and fries to under the seat that bottle of chocolate milk they promised they picked up. It shocking the amount of items they bring into the car that never make it out. And wait until the heat hits your car and starts to cook all those wonderful items. However, as much as I would like to blame all smells from your car on the kiddos, it really isn't always their fault. (I mean, obviously it is never our fault, right?)


Believe it or not, things that begin to fail mechanically on your car can also produce smells. Here are a couple of smells you might want to pay attention to if they linger in your car for more than a few hours. Let the search begin...


  1. Rotten Eggs. Ugghh.. One of the worst smells our there. But did you know that it could possibly indicate that there is damage to your catalytic converter? If you smell this every time your drive, you might want to get this checked out.

  2. Musty basement smell Growing up in an old farm house with that creepy basement - this was a scent that wafter through the house anytime we had to go into the basement. Not a pleasant smell. Do you notice when you first turn your ac or heat on for the season it kind of has that smell? Of course, it could be as simple as you haven't turned it on for a while. That's pretty normal. But it could also mean your cabin filter is failing. Most cars manufactured after the year 2000 have these filters. Their job is to collect airborne particles before they enter your car. These are usually found behind your glove box. Might be worth checking it out.

  3. Breakfast. Mmmmm.. when I think of a breakfast smell, I think of bacon. I mean, come on, who doesn't right? Well, some people think of maple syrup on their pancakes I suppose. Neither of these make me think of my car or a possible problem. But were you aware that a syrupy smell could be a sign of an coolant/anti-freeze leak? So if you are driving along and all of a sudden get that urge for a stack of blueberry pancakes, you might want to take pause and see if it's actually your car causing that craving.

  4. Gas - All right.. You might expect some scent of gas, especially after you just refueled, right? Maybe you dripped some on your foot or rubbed your hand over a droplet. A very small amount of gas can stink up your car. But if you smell it every time you drive or continues to get worse, there could be a more severe reason for it. You will want to have that checked out as soon as possible. A leaking gas line/hose/drip could cause all kinds of nasty things to happen. Don't wait on this one.

  5. Burned Shag Carpet Yep... burned shag carpet. Now, if your on the younger side, you might not even know what Shag carpet is. Ask your parents or grandparents, they'll know. But if you car is smelling like that and you don't have it decked out in shag carpet with the little balls dangling from your carpeted roof, you might want to take notice. This could be an indication there is something wrong with your brakes. Perhaps they didn't release properly and are rubbing. Or maybe your parking break is engaged and you forgot to take it off. Better take a second look if you smell this scent.

  6. Hot Oil When I think of hot oil, I think of deep fried anything - fries, mini tacos, onion rings and the list goes on (mostly because those are my favorite!) But if your car smells like hot oil, you can pretty much bank on that it is NOT one of those things happening. Are you burning oil? Leaking oil? Do you see an oil stain in your driveway or garage when you back out? Better check your oil levels. You car needs oil as much as I need me some mini tacos!

While this is def not an all inclusive list, it gives us just a quick glance at things we should be watching for to keep y our car in good running condition. This will go a long ways in making sure you and other drivers stay safe on our roadways. Being broken down in rush hour traffic is just begging for a accident to happen.


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