4 types of car burning smells: what to do


During summer in the UAE the civil defence service reports an increase in the number of car fires. Local research shows that most of the vehicles that catch fire during summer are poorly maintained. Prior to a vehicle fire you will notice certain smells that reveal underlying issues that need to be fixed. Wecashanycar discusses four car burning smells that you should be alert to.  

1. Burning paper smell

A burning paper smell is often an indication of a clutch issue. Whenever a driver is overworking his clutch, it wears off and starts to scrape the surface which is usually made of paper. This emits the papery burning smell because of this paper-like surface. Your best solution for this issue is to replace your clutch and learn how to use your clutch without riding it.

The burning paper smell should be clearly distinguished from the burning carpet smell, which is usually an indication of overworked brakes. If you are unsure of the burning carpet smell, you should touch your brakes and if they are hot, then you need to stop overriding them.

2. Burning oil smell

Leaking oil is yet another possible cause of the burning rubber smell. A leak in your exhaust pipe will cause the oil to burn as you drive, resulting in a burning rubber smell and white smoke emissions.

Oil leaks are more noticeable when driving up a hill and if you stop your car, you will notice fumes coming from your exhaust pipes. The burning oil smell can also linger on even after you have stopped driving. You can also confirm any leaks by checking under your car. In some cases, the oil leak can be due to other reasons such as a loose filter and worn out gaskets or  oil plug.

You can resolve this problem by having your mechanic check and fix the leaking problem. If not repaired quickly, any leakages in your car not only endanger you during summer, but can spiral into very expensive mechanical issues.

3. Burning plastic smell

The smell of burning plastic in your car is usually an indication of heater, fan or electronic devices in your car burning. If your air conditioning system has been working overtime, its motor can break down causing a burning smell similar to that of burning plastic. This smell can also be caused by a broken down heater which results in antifreeze leaking into your air conditioning system. This smell can also be from an electrical short circuit.

When this happens, the covering on the electric wires can start heating up and melting causing the burning plastic smell. Although this smell can easily be ignored, some vehicles heavily depend on the electrical operations, so you must fix these issues to avoid even more malfunctions in your vehicle.

4. Burning rubber smell

A burning rubber smell in your car can be caused by many things but top of them is a melting drive belt. When there is a problem with an accessory in the drive belt such as the generator air pump, water pump or AC compressor becoming locked the belt starts rotating on a frozen pulley, causing a burning feeling which results in the burning rubber smell. This will be accompanied by some unusual sounds. You should take your car to the mechanic if you notice the burning rubber smell in your car and they will replace any faulty drive belt.

In some cases, the burning rubber smell can come from pressure-filled tyres which can be extremely dangerous as the tyres can burst while you are driving. You can avoid this by replacing worn tyres and putting enough pressure in your tyres. Wecashanycar offers great tips on how to maintain your car and drive safe. Read our car advice blog to get the latest advice.


If you are looking for the best place to sell your car for cash, wecashanycar offer free car valuation at our branches in the UAE or car valuation service at your home.


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