Burning Smell from Car but Not Overheating (8 Reasons & Their Solutions)

Burning Smell from Car but Not Overheating

The burning Smell from a Car is always unpleasant, but you may be surprised to discover that it isn’t always caused by overheating. There are several locations inside the car where burning smells can be detected without overheating, some of which are more noticeable than others. Therefore, it’s critical to pinpoint which ones are to blame to determine what needs rectification.

Common problems of burning smell

Here are 8 most common problems that can cause a burning smell in a Car:

  • Clutch Issue
  • Burning Rubber
  • Oil Burning
  • Burning Brake Pads
  • Capacitor Overheating
  • Hydraulic Leak
  • Clogged Heater
  • Catalytic Converter

1. Clutch issue

Clutch Issue

Have you ever considered that a clutch issue could be causing the strange burning smell from the car? Well, it frequently occurs, particularly while changing gears while driving. While slipping off, the clutch’s face became burned. Because the fragrance is similar to that of a burning newspaper, it is simple to identify. Therefore, it appears essential to handle the clutch carefully to avoid such a situation. It would undoubtedly last longer if you adhered to the general rule of not riding the clutch.


To prevent this issue, you must learn how to utilize the clutch properly and replace your worn-out clutch.

2. Burning Rubber

Rubber Hose

The smell of burning rubber in your automobile could signify that disaster is about to ensue unless you’re a racecar driver out for a spin on the track. A rubber hose or belt under the hood may have become loose if you notice the smell of burnt rubber in your automobile. These components move and come into touch with heated engine components. So why does it smell like burnt rubber? An oil leak, fluid leak, or even a worn-out drive belt occasionally causes a burnt rubber smell. No amount of time will make loose belts and hoses better.


If a dragging drive belt is the cause of a burning rubber odor from an automobile, you should replace the problematic drive belt and inspect the other belts. Checking your driver’s belt at least once every six months.

3. Oil Burning

Oil Burning

Oil leaks can ignite in the exhaust, posing a severe risk of fire and combustion. Vapors or smoke are examples of visible indications. Since the windows will prevent it from entering, the fragrance is more perceptible when you are outside the car, but pay close attention once it occurs. If it occurs, take your car to a dealer or reputable repair facility to thoroughly inspect the oil level and system. Also, remember that driving without an oil cover might be extremely dangerous.


This unpleasant odor could be caused by oil dripping onto hot engine components. Oil leaks may also be a sign of overheating in your car. The best action is to turn off the vehicle and contact your authorized dealer for assistance.

4. Burning Break Pads

Break Pads

Aggressive driving may cause brake pads to burn and start to emit smoke. Fire is present everywhere; there is smoke. Not necessary; however, this indicates that the heat is too intense and needs your immediate attention. It looks like a burning smell from the car but not overheating, and your brake pads may be overheated. Although the engine appears to be in trouble, its braking pad isn’t working correctly. Overheated brake pads create a smell that some drivers have compared to burning carpets. That’s an odor that even the mightiest pine-shaped air fresheners will have difficulty fending off!


You must first slow down and find a secure location to pull over if you notice anything amiss with your brakes, whether it be a sound, smell, feeling, or even suspicion.

Use your phone to search for a brake repair shop nearby while you’re securely stopped and allowing your brakes to cool. Then, decide if you can drive to help or if you should call roadside assistance for towing instead using your best judgment.

5. Capacitor Overheating

Car Capacitor/Battery

It smells awful when the car’s capacitor is overheating, which sounds like the engine is overheating. However, the truth is that the capacitor has a problem. The capacitor is overheated, giving the impression that the engine is overheating because the capacitors serve as air coolers when the automobile travels considerably shorter distances.


The HVAC system’s interior should be cleaned and sanitized. Pour foam into the vents and up to the drainpipe to accomplish this. Spray the foam into the outlet entirely until it begins to back up and exit the drainpipe. If you place a pipe pressed against a hot engine area, remove it if necessary. If the clamps seem loose, you should also check their condition.

6. Hydraulic Leak

Hydraulic Leak

You’ll be able to see and hear this one! The exhaust gas will leak out of the system before it reaches the muffler if something disconnects the engine’s exhaust flow or a hole develops because of rust or rot. The car will become significantly louder since the hot exhaust isn’t reaching the muffler, which usually dampens the sound. When accelerating and during a cold start, the sound will become louder. Additionally, the cabin will begin to smell like it is burning.


You must stop the exhaust leak to solve this issue. This might be as easy as reassembling two separate sections or welding the exhaust pipe’s hole closed.

7. Clogged Heater

Clogged Heater

When burning plastic is detected, check the heater first. If it has been a while since you used the heater, dust buildup may be present in the system. However, if you frequently use the heater and the burning smell from the car persists, some huge trash or particles may be blocking the vent. The engines of several cars have been discovered to be jammed with plastic bags and other items. If an inspection rules this out, it may be that the heater is malfunctioning, and antifreeze is dripping into the vents, producing the odor of burning plastic. Even worse, some heater components may be cracked or melted. Usually, the heater’s motor is the culprit.


Take your automobile to the mechanic immediately to check the heater and other suspected parts if the scent worsens and no debris is stuck to the vent. Look for any leaks in the fuel lines and the heater. Air filters were cleaned or, if necessary, replaced. To clean the vents, use an antibacterial solution.

8. Catalytic Converter

Catalytic Converter

While distinctively different, some car owners can mistake this odor for a burnt one. But it shouldn’t be a surprise. A faulty catalytic converter frequently occurs in tandem with a heating exhaust system, which may emit a smoky odor. Although a fuel injection issue is occasionally the cause of the distinctive hydrogen sulfide odor, it typically occurs after a catalytic converter has failed. Have your cat and fuel injection system checked the next time your cabin smells like rotten eggs.


Put the catalyst in hot water with a degreaser or laundry detergent and soak it all night. Although it takes longer, this procedure is required to remove the deposits obstructing your catalytic converter. Dry the items after washing or soaking.

Ready To Learn More:


Although it is technically possible to drive a car that smells like burnt rubber, you should exercise caution and avoid doing so, especially if the cause has not yet been identified. While some root causes are simple to fix, others are more difficult and can quickly become unstable. Burning odors brought on by electrical shorts or damaged engine components are non-negotiable and should be diagnosed and fixed by an expert. Otherwise, you risk overexposing yourself to dangerous chemicals, losing all your brakes, or raising the possibility that your automobile will catch fire.

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