When it comes to Auto Repair and maintenance of your vehicle, be aware of any strange or new smells that occur while driving. This awareness can save you from auto repair problems when on the road, or prevent larger repairs from ever happening. Here is a checklist of car odors to watch for while driving. Many require that you call a tow truck and let a professional handle your auto repair needs.
Fresh asphalt, burnt toast or burning rubber – could be a sign of a highly overheated engine. This smell means components under the hood are melting. This could simply be super-heated plastic parts or hoses. But the worst case scenario could mean damaged wiring for the engine, which could lead to an electrical malfunction. If that happens, a chain reaction may result, making the engine hotter and hotter until it seizes altogether. Stop driving immediately and raise the hood, but without turning off the engine, to allow it to cool. This may also lead to other problems listed below. See a licensed mechanic as soon as possible.
Burning coolant – indicates a head gasket leak which allows coolant, or anti-freeze, to mix with gas in the engine. A thick, white colored smoke will appear from the muffler, which will smell like coolant. The broken gasket is deep inside the engine, requiring a full engine repair. See a licensed auto repair shop.
Exhaust – may be a sign of a hole in your muffler, tailpipe, exhaust manifold or exhaust pipe. While not a major concern, this may cause problems with car exhaust inspections. Once again, it may be time for a professional.
Hot oil – from the engine may leak out to boil or bake on the engine. Check the oil cap on the top of the engine to see if is loose. Otherwise, consult a licensed mechanic, as a small oil leak will reduce engine lubrication over time.
Raw gas – First, secure the gas cap fully and check for gas under the car. Your fuel-injector lines might be leaking or you may have a broken gas line in the engine compartment. Don't risk starting the car. You're going to need auto repair by a professional, so it is best to have the car towed to a technician.
Rotten eggs – This one is an odd one. When coupled with a loss of power when driving, this indicates either a broken catalytic converter or an air and fuel mixture which is running too rich. Call a mechanic, as this means replacement of the catalytic muffler, a mechanical adjustment or may be a sign of an electrical malfunction.
When facing the repair of any of the above problems, remember the following: that with any business, there are honest, trustworthy mechanics, and there are those who will attempt to pad the bill by scaring you with unnecessary repairs. Choose a shop with Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified mechanics. Describe the problem as clearly as possible or take a test drive with an auto care specialist and point out the problem. Arm yourself with a little knowledge, don't succumb to pressure, and be willing to ask questions. After all, it is still your car and you are in charge of your auto care.