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Burning smell

Discussion in 'Misc Electronics' started by Mark-T, Oct 25, 2005.

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  1. Mark-T

    Mark-T Guest

    Recently I noticed an odor in my car, smells like
    burning rubber. Not good! It is particularly
    noticeable when I am idling at an intersection.

    My first thought is the tires, but that doesn't
    make sense - they would burn only after a skid, right?

    Could it be burning oil, does that smell like rubber?
    I checked, there is no leak.

    Another possibility are the belts, maybe they are
    slipping? How to check them?

    I realize no one can diagnose a problem long
    distance, I am looking for tips. I want to avoid
    going to a mechanic and say "There's some problem,
    see if you can fix it". That's how you get taken
    for a ride. I'd much rather have particular
    questions and items, and give him a specific work order.


  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    When you get your car home, and it is still hot, pull up the hood
    and take a look. Maybe you can see smoke.

    Oil leaks from the valve covers can drop onto the hot manifold
    and really smell bad.

    Maybe some rubber hose or other part actually is in contact
    with the manifold and is melting.

    Pulleys can freeze, causing belts to screech, melt, stink.

    Take a good look, especially for oil leaks, and tell us what you
  3. Drive 5 miles, stop and open the lid.
    Feel the belts. Smell. Feel the tires. Smell.

    Get back to us with your results.

    Brian Whatcott Altus OK
  4. N8N

    N8N Guest

    Could be an oil leak, although the smell is not quite the same. Also
    if it is a manual transmission it may be the clutch, or it could be a
    dragging brake pad.

  5. eromlignod

    eromlignod Guest

    Have you had your oil changed or added oil lately? Sometimes oil gets
    spilled onto the engine and burns.

    Kansas City
  6. There are many, many ways you can have a burning smell. The only real
    way to diagnose is follow your nose. It is probably most noticeable
    at rest because the wind is not taking the smell away as it is at
    speed. An oil leak from the valve cover, for instance, can drip onto
    the exhaust manifold and smell without you ever seeing a drop on the
    ground. A very small leak can make a lot of smell. Belts can smell if
    a pulley seizes, but that is usually followed after a short time by a
    whap as the belt breaks and a thunk when it hits some sheet metal. If
    they are loose, they usually squeal during acceleration. You check
    them by inspection. All the possible conditions and belt types (vee,
    surpintine, cog) make a long list of appearances which are hard to
    describe. Find a friend who has some experience and can look.
    Another classic source is picking up some plastic or rubber trash from
    the road and having it lodge by, or melt onto, the catalytic converter
    or muffler. Mostly you just start by sticking your head under the
    hood, under the car, or wherever and follow it till you find something
  7. Spud Demon

    Spud Demon Guest

    There are several characteristic smells you might get from a car:
    brake pads
    transmission fluid
    Or maybe if they were very badly aligned, or if the parking brake was
    locking up the back ones :^)
    Look under the hood first with the engine still running and then immediately
    after you shut it off. Look for smoke, and sniff for it too. Also look for
    items which are touching hot surfaces -- loose hoses and wires for example.

    If you find out the smell is coming from your exhaust, it's some kind of
    emissions failure.
    Slipping belts are usually very noisy, like a squeel.

    -- spud_demon -at-
    The above may not (yet) represent the opinions of my employer.
  8. Al Bundy

    Al Bundy Guest

    It probably is rubber. Try not to start and stop so fast on those runs
    Mark. The law sayw they can't make you deliver those pizzas in under 30
  9. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    ["Followup-To:" header set to sci.electronics.misc.]
    no, it usually smells like hot oil.
    slipping belts make a horrible squealing noise
    not unlike a dry bearing.

    To check them press agaisnt the back ot the belt in the middle of the span
    with your thumb, more than abput 12mm movement is probably a sign of a loose
    belt. (to check them properly you need the service manual for your car
    it'll give proper details...)

    It could be that one of the rubber thingies that suspend your exhaust
    system has come loose and is touching the hot exhaust pipe.

  10. Try looking at the engine while it is running
    (being careful around the moving parts, of course).
  11. Stick or automatic? If stick, could be a misaligned clutch.

    Mark L. Fergerson
  12. Mark-T

    Mark-T Guest

    Not likely, I'm a real weenee driver, I drive like your grandmother!

    But I checked under the hood, the belts, hoses, couldn't locate the
    smell, it seems OK to my unexpert eye. When I start the car and
    idle, no odor. Only after stoppng at a red light... so it probably is
    the brakes...

    Thanks to all for comments. I'm leery about going to a mechanic
    without specific instructions, after a startling survey some years
    ago by a local consumer research group. They disabled a vehicle
    in a very simple way, like removing a distributor cable, then took
    it to about 20 garages, They expected a bill ~ $25, but found
    only two honest mechanics! The rest conjured up all kinds of fairy
    tales, with bills up to $300.

  13. oldkid

    oldkid Guest

    you neeed specific instructions for the about
    this......remove everything rubber from my car.i'm sick of the
    makes me worry!i would rather pay you now.
  14. JosephKK

    JosephKK Guest

    Is the odor specific to the cabin of the car? If so the source may be in
    the cabin of the car.
  15. Mark-T

    Mark-T Guest

    I finally got an inspection. It's not the brakes, but the
    heater core, it's melted or leaking fluid. I should have
    guessed that, as the heater never worked since I bought
    it, 8 months ago (luckily I'm in a warm weather climate).
    It's nothing critical (except maybe a fire hazard, haha).

    I'm posting this note fyi - if you ever smell burning rubber,
    check the heater.

  16. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Thanks for the update...A bad heater core usually leaks fluid
    which smells sweet, but 'chemical'.
    It is not likely a fire hazard.
  17. Mark-T

    Mark-T Guest

    Forgot something... I also have a leaky valve cover, the gasket
    needs to be replaced. I'm not going to fix it right away, old car,
    not worth it.

    So maybe the burning rubber smell is that, and not the heater.

    Do I sound confused?
    Nah, it's just seems that way...

  18. Guest

    Guest Guest

    NOW YOU'RE COOKING, MARK....(no pun intended)
    Your valve cover is leaking oil onto the exhaust manifold,
    probably, and you're smelling the oil burning off.

    You might be able to fix the leak just by tightening slightly.
    A new valve cover gasket is just a few bucks, and dead easy
    (usually) to replace.
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