2 Unusual Automotive Smells And Their Potential Causes

It is common knowledge that mechanics use both their eyes and their ears to diagnose troublesome automotive complaints. Yet what few people realize is that the nose is just as effective a diagnostic tool. If you would like to improve your ability to recognize common car problems by smell, read on. This article will acquaint you with two unusual odors and their potential causes.

Sweet Smell

If you have begun to notice a sweet, almost cloying aroma in your car, the problem is almost certainly tied to your coolant system. You see, the antifreeze inside of that system is largely composed of a chemical known as ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is a poisonous substance--yet one that naturally emits a strong sweet odor. 

Pay attention to where you have begun to notice this smell. If it is primarily while you are outside of the vehicle, you are likely dealing with an external leak. Make a visual inspection of the underside of your car. Be on the lookout for any active dripping, as well as for any puddles on the pavement of your driveway or garage.

If, on the other hand, you have begun to notice the smell on the inside of your vehicle, you are more likely dealing with a leaking heater core. Take a look at the part of your windshield where it meets the defroster ducts. If you notice a sticky substance, chances are it is coolant. Take your car to the mechanic as soon as possible to have this issue addressed.

Bitter Burning Smell

Acrid smells, often described as resembling the odor of burnt hair, are often tied to brake and clutch issues. These two components, though they place vastly different roles in your car, have one thing in common. The clutch discs and the brake pads both have a coating on their surface that is designed to help increase friction. While this is generally intended as a safety measure, those who ride their brakes or clutch excessively may cause this material to combust. When that happens, the result is a noxious and highly displeasing aroma.

Try to pinpoint precisely when the odor occurs. Does it generally get stronger when you are depressing either the brake or the clutch? If one of these seems to be the case, you have a strong indication that it is time for some maintenance. Talk with your mechanic about making the appropriate repairs. While you're at it, you should also consider making some changes to your habits behind the wheel.  

Contact a company like Wolfe's Foreign Auto to learn more.