WEDNESDAY, JULY 18: Doesn’t everyone love that new-car smell? Unfortunately, there are plenty of other smells emanating from your car that are not so appealing.
More often than not, an odd odour from your vehicle is a sign that something is wrong.
Obviously, having your car serviced by a qualified service technician on a regular basis is the best preventative measure you can take when it comes to car care.
Occasionally, however, you will be faced with an issue that requires more attention, especially if you notice an unusual smell.
Here’s a quick breakdown of potential smells and what they could be indicating.
If you smell maple syrup and you’re not eating pancakes in the car, chances are there’s a coolant leak.
Coolant contains sweet smelling, but toxic, ethylene glycol. The leak could be coming from a radiator or heater hose, a failed intake manifold gasket or cylinder head. It might be coming from a leaky radiator cap or the radiator itself, especially if you smell it outside the car.
Either way, get it checked out by a service technician.
If you turn on the air-conditioner and it blows out a musty smell, almost like a high school gym locker, it’s probably mildew and bacteria growing amid the moisture inside your air conditioner evaporator.
To get rid of the smell, you can try spraying disinfectant directly into the air conditioning air intake vents, which are usually located beneath the dashboard or near the floorboards.
Make sure you do this while running the air conditioner on the re-circulate mode. In addition, try opening the windows and airing out the vehicle every so often.
Musty smells can also be produced if your car is continually closed up with little ventilation. In much the same way that dirt and dust builds up inside a car, lack of ventilation can cause mould and mildew build-up, which can easily be fixed with a good cleaning.
There is nothing quite as unnerving as the smell of rotten eggs and this is certainly the case when it is emanating from your vehicle. It’s annoying to you and all the cyclists around you on the roads.
In some cases, the rotten egg smell is hydrogen sulphide in the exhaust, which is produced by trace amounts of sulphur in gasoline.
It’s supposed to be converted to sulphur dioxide in your catalytic converter, which means the smell could be indicating a clogged or plugged catalytic converter.
A rotten egg smell can also be coming from your vehicle’s battery, in which case it’s quite dangerous.
The most common cause of rotten-egg batteries is an alternator, which constantly overcharges, so the alternator should usually be replaced along with the battery.
You might guess that a burning rubber smell from your car is indication that there’s a problem with your tyres, but that’s not always the case.
Still, your tyres are a good place to start. Inspect your vehicle’s wheel wells and crank your steering wheel to ensure there’s no damage to your tyres from rubbing against any mechanical parts that may have come loose.
If your tyres check out, the main culprit is likely to be a loose fan belt, which you should then examine closely for cracks or frayed edges.
Finally, if you happen to smell gasoline, this is something which needs to be attended to immediately. Leaking petrol is dangerous and a fire hazard. Have automotive service technician check this out as soon as possible.
Krishna King, after sales parts manager at Bermuda Motors Limited, has more than 20 years’ experience in the automotive industry, www.bermudamotors.bm.