Auto Parts,  Cars

Why Does My Car Smell Like Burning Rubber?

Most of the time car offer a safe and comfortable ride from place to place, but you may have encountered problems from time to time, like I have. When something smell different than normal, I usually start to look at the tires or under the hood to find out what's going on. 

The smell of burning rubber could be explained by a number of things going on with your car including: tires, leaking fluids, hoses, and belts. The air from outside the car cabin can get inside the car and start to indicate there's a problem with your car.

If you do smell burnt rubber, never ignore it, and try to figure out what is happening or ask someone to check it out for you. The faster you take action when your car smells like burning rubber, the better for your car. Repairs may be costly if you ignore it too long. 

Does Your Car Smell like Burning Rubber?


Do you smell a burning odor coming up from under the hood of your car? Such symptoms are noticeable after the engine has become hot or operated for a long duration. When your car smells like burning rubber, it may be a sign of a problem that may get bigger if not treated. 

Some other smells may be strong as well. Try to identify the odors, and where it may be coming from. Whenever you get a smell of rotten eggs, burnt toast, burning carpet, sweet syrup, or burning oil, raise your attention level to high, so you can solve these issues as well.

Precautions & Tips

As a thumb rule, keep in mind the following precautions and steps to take when you smell any strange odor from your car.

  • Turn the car off. Inspection under the hood to identify any fluid leakage.
  • Let the engine cool. You should be extremely cautious while working with hot or rotating engine parts.
  • Perform any checks where hands are required, only when the engine has cooled completely.
  • Do not smoke while checking for a fuel leak or inspection your car battery.
  • If you smell a gasoline odor, even if you just filled your tank, get it checked immediately.

If you can't figure out what wrong by yourself, ask for help or rake your vehicle to the car mechanic.

Why does Your Car Smell like Burning Rubber?

The following possibilities could be reasons why your car smells like burnt rubber.

1. Lose Hose


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When one of the rubber hoses under the hood is loose or pressed against a hot part of the engine, the rubber may start to burn after a while. If you installed something that caused a hose to move, this may have exposed it to a hot surface. 

Solution: Move the hose and replace if needed. Check the condition of the clamps as well if it seem loose. 

2. Melting of Drive Belt

If one of devices that uses the drive belt, such as: the alternator, air pump, water pump or AC compressor, is locked up, the drive belt will spin but not the device. This friction on the belt creates heat and causes a burnt rubber smell. This smell is also accompanied by a squealing noise.

Solution: The faulty drive belt must be replaced, and the device that stopped working should be replaced or repaired. It is highly recommended to check the drive belts for proper operation every six months.

3. Motor Oil Leak


If the motor oil start to leak onto the hot engine exhaust pipe, it may give rise to a burnt rubber smell. This is a dangerous scenario and can lead to a car fire.

Solution: Stop the engine, wait 30 minutes, and check for leaks. Once you find the leak, clean up any oil that has spilled and determine your next course of action.

The best course of action though, would be to replace any damaged parts or take it to a mechanic. If you continue driving with an oil leak, you are sure to cause more damage and more money repairing your car. Oil leaks need to be corrected as soon as possible.

4. Accidental Plastic Bag


A plastic shopping bag can sometimes get stuck to the exhaust pipe under your car and slowly melt or burn, producing a smell of burning rubber.

Solution: Wait until the muffler has cooled and carefully remove the plastic bag from beneath the car. While driving, try to avoid contact with plastic bags lying on the road or flying around. Plastic bag can also cause other problems if the get caught near the engine.

5. Leakage of Coolant

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The heater core could be leaking coolant into the heating system or air conditioning system, causing a burning rubber smell. This causes significant coolant loss and also sufficient damage to your car. Solution: Check if your coolant tank has any cracks in it.

If coolant is leaking, you may smell a sweet smelling odor. If it leaks somewhere very hot, it could smell a bit like burning rubber. Unfortunately this coolant fumes are unhealthy to breath, so get it check out or fixed right away. Lose of coolant can cause significant damage to your car if not replaced.  

Solution: Check if your coolant tank for any cracks. Coolant hoses can also crack or become loose. Replace or reattach as needed.

Any cracks, even small ones need to be fixed. One way to check for leaks is to use a UV dye in the radiator and a UV light to see where the leak is coming from. 

6. Electrical Problem


If a fuse is blown or short circuit occurs. the odor could smell like burning rubber. The odor then enters your car through the AC duct. 

Solution: Check all the wire connections for melted areas, loose connections, and check fuses to see if any of them have blown. Once you identify the problem, replace the fuse, wire, connector, and secure connections. Use the owners manual or do some research for the correct replacement parts for your vehicle.

7. Heating of AC Compressor


When the refrigerant levels have been reduced, and there may be a lack of sufficient lubrication for the AC compressor. It will get overheated and may produce a burning rubber smell. 

Solution: During the maintenance inspection of your car, have the mechanic check the AC. Notify the mechanic of the smell and any associated issues. The AC compressor may need to be replaced or you may just need to add refrigerant to the AC system. 

8. Oil Leak from Gasket or Seal

When oil leaks from gasket or seal, it can cause a burnt smell when it comes into contact with the exhaust manifold.    

Solution: It is highly advisable to replace the gasket or seal. Sometimes a gasket leak sealer can be bought over the counter for a temporary fix. Although some don't recommend it.

Another temporary solution is to tighten the coupling surface of the gasket and seal. But this method can also worsen the scenario, as the leak tends to worsen if the gasket is heavily saturated with oil.


If you smell burning rubber, it's important to take steps to avoid any major issues with your car. Have your vehicle inspected by a professional technician or do it yourself. as soon as you recognize any burning rubber smell coming out.

We hope that this article would have helped you to identify the reason behind the burning rubber smell from your car. Pass on your feedback and comments below.

Do you have any other questions about your vehicle? Looking at these articles may help: Best coolant, Why is Pink Fluid Leaking From My Car?,  and How to Change Your Oil Like a Pro?