Car Repair and Maintenance

Car Smells Like Burning Rubber After Driving [Cause and Fixes]

Unless you are a race driver on the racetrack, there’s is a problem if your car smells like burning rubber after driving. The smell of burning rubber can indicate a loose rubber hose or belt beneath the hood. When this happens, the components might shift and come into direct contact with hot engine components, hence the smell of burnt rubber.

Reasons car smells like burning rubber after driving fixed

car smells like burning rubber after driving

Without further ado, this article will look into the most common reasons for a burning rubber smell in your car to determine its origin. Let’s examine briefly the most common causes and how you can fix them.

  1. Broken hose

The engine of a car generates a great deal of heat, particularly if it has been operating for a while. This could cause one of the inner hoses to melt. Not all of the hoses in your car are constructed from the same material, so if any of them is old, loose, or burned, they will not necessarily emit a rubber smell.

When a hose fails, there may likely be more signs beside the smell of burning rubber. These include a lack of air pressure, white smoke, and liquid pooling on the ground.

How to fix

If it is a small leak, simply use electrical tape in a pinch to mend it. Also, dry and clean the hose before use. As you wrap the tape around the hose, you should overlap it. If it is wrapped too tightly, the hose will be creased and the tape will not seal. 

If you experience more signs apart from the burning rubber, simply visit a professional mechanic.

  1. Electrical short

If you smell burning rubber coming from your air conditioning vents, but it quickly dissipates, you may have an electrical short someplace. The smell is likely caused by a blown fuse, which can be replaced.

How to fix

Simply open the fuse box and inspect for blown fuses. You should be able to purchase replacement fuses affordably at an auto parts store.

If the same fuse blows again, there is likely a problem elsewhere; you may need to take the device to a professional mechanic to determine the cause. Per the research, Checking and replacing fuses, “If the fuse is blown, replace the fuse with one that is exactly the same (see panel).” You want to be sure to note the fuse amperage and voltage ratings marked on the fuse or the panel label near the fuse holder.

  1. Engine oil leak

An oil leak is a problem you should not ignore. When oil drips over a hot engine component, it emits a distinct smell that resembles that of burning rubber.

Why does an oil leak occur? Well, there are several potential causes, but the most likely one is a worn gasket or seal, which you should not disregard.

When your engine has an oil leak, it is likely not receiving sufficient lubrication, which will cause it to overheat. This can result in several serious problems, such as a burst head gasket or a broken engine block.

Read also: do you also experience rotten egg smell?

Also, engine oil on the exhaust might cause a fire, so if you locate one, you should replace it immediately.

How to fix

Take your car to a professional mechanic to prevent further damage to the engine of your car.

  1. Radiator coolant leak

Car smelling like a burned rubber could also be caused by a leak, but this time it is caused by coolant leaking onto hot engine components. Although rubber is not the true source of the smell, it is reminiscent of the smell of burned rubber.

Like the previous reason, you should not disregard a coolant leak. Otherwise, your cooling system will not operate properly. When an engine becomes overheated, catastrophes can occur, such as a block crack or a blown head gasket.

How to fix

Fortunately, you should be able to detect a coolant leak by searching for a pool of green or orange liquid. Additionally, there may be some on the bottom of the radiator. This essential component is located in the front of the engine compartment.

A pool of green or orange liquid shouldn’t be neglected, so head straight to a professional mechanic to fix the problem.

  1. Worn drive belt

The drive belt provides power to numerous components, including the water pump, alternator, air conditioning, and power steering system.

If any of these components develops a defect, it may impair the rotation of the drive belt, resulting in excessive friction. Where there is a spike in heat, there is a risk of burning, and in this situation, the drive belt is at risk.

How to fix

Listen for a squealing noise emanating from beneath the hood to confirm that it’s your drive belt causing the smell. In this circumstance, you may only need to replace the belt and any other faulty components.

  1. External object stuck in the engine bay

This is not the most prevalent cause of a car smelling like burning rubber after driving, but it does occur. An external object, such as a plastic bag, can easily generate a burnt rubber smell, regardless of whether it was left under the hood or picked up while driving.

How to fix

This can be fixed by opening the hood and inspecting the engine area. If you discover an object that does not belong, remove it. Additionally, you should examine below your car and around the exhaust pipe.

Read also: why changing spark plugs is still a problem

  1. Your brakes are hot

Most cars on the road nowadays are equipped with disc brakes. Disc brakes function by pushing pads against a rotor attached to the wheel, creating friction and slowing the rotation. If you have been braking aggressively or if you have been driving in an area with many steep drops, your brakes may be worn. Your brake pads may be emitting a burning smell, which is normal and not cause for concern until it occurs regularly.

It is also possible that a component of your braking system, such as a caliper piston, has failed. In this situation, your brake pads may be pressing against the rotor even though you have not depressed the pedal.

How to fix

If the burning smell occurs regularly, then it is time to visit a professional mechanic to inspect your brake system.

  1. Clutch slipping (for manual cars)

If you have a car with a manual transmission, the smell of burning rubber could be the result of a burned clutch. This is typically the result of improper shifting, which causes the gears to grind. If you have never encountered this, you are either a cautious driver or an expert.

How to fix

If this occurs frequently, you will likely need to replace your clutch. If not, you risk being unable to shift. We recommend modifying your technique for transitioning to something a little less aggressive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my car smell hot but isn’t overheating?

Even if your car is not overheating, the presence of a burning rubber smell could indicate a coolant leak. The leak could be the result of a loose or defective coolant reservoir cap or a more serious problem. A malfunctioning heater could potentially emit a smell of burning rubber in your car.

Can I drive my car if it smells like burning rubber?

Technically, you can drive with a burning smell in your car, but you shouldn’t. Any burning smell in your car can develop into a significant problem, regardless of its size. More often than not, ignoring the smell of burning rubber can cause a fire, which can be quite dangerous. Contact a professional mechanic as soon as you detect a strange smell coming from your car.

Conclusion

However, if you take care of the issue immediately, you won’t soon be faced with an expensive repair fee.

Remember that when your car smells like burning rubber after driving, it indicates that something requires your attention. By correcting the issue as soon as possible, you will likely avoid the need for a more extensive fix, which is also our advice.

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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