F-150 interior

Everybody likes a nice smelling car. Sometimes, however, you might notice strange odors from your car, yet it's clean. We break down different car smells for you and what they mean about the condition of your car.

Burned Rubber

There are several reasons for a burned rubber smell. The most obvious reason is burning rubber in your vehicle. Several engine components contain rubber hoses. If these parts come in contact with a hot section of the engine, you'll notice the burned rubber smell.

Burned Carpet

If you get this smell while driving, it means your brake pads are overheating. This is mostly the case when you have been using the brakes extensively or have had multiple intense-braking situations. This smell could also mean the brake pads are worn out and you need to replace them. You can also get the burned carpet smell while driving with the handbrake on.

Gym Clothes

The gym clothes or locker room smell is most common when you turn on the A/C. Mildew tends to grow on a moist surface. When moisture accumulates in your A/C evaporator, mildew finds an appropriate surface to thrive. The best option to alleviate this odor is to turn on the fan to dry the system.


You will typically get this smell when the engine is running or just after turning the engine off. The smell may be very pleasant, but it is usually an indicator that the coolant is leaking. The coolant contains ethylene glycol hence the sweet smell. However, ethylene glycol is very toxic. A failed intake manifold gasket, a leaking radiator cap are usually the culprits. If you get this smell in the passenger compartment, a bad heater core is to blame.

Sulfur or Rotten Eggs

Hydrogen sulfide present in the exhaust system causes this smell due to a failing catalytic converter's ability to process hydrogen sulfide. Leaking gear lube from the manual transmission can also cause this smell.

We advise you to act on any strange car smell as soon as it arises because it indicates an underlying problem. When the problem deteriorates, it could lead to costly repairs. Contact us or visit our Ford dealership in Santa Clara, CA, to have your car checked by the industry's best car experts.


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