4 Possible Reasons Why Your Car Smells Like Burning Rubber

car smells like burning rubber

If your car smells like burning rubber, there’s something serious going on inside your car.



You should stop driving your car as soon as you notice a burning smell and get it to an auto body shop as soon as you can. Ignoring the smell can make the problem worse and put you and your passengers in danger.

But what’s causing the burning smell?

It could be a variety of things. Take a look at this quick guide to learn four common causes of a burning rubber scent in your car.

1. Clutch Problems

You can tell if the burning scent is coming from your clutch because you’ll be able to smell it when you change gears. Every time the clutch slips into the next gear, more of the clutch’s face burns off.



This burning will smell a bit more like burning paper than burning rubber. The clutch is made from a composition of paper. When you notice this smell, it might be time to replace the clutch.

But make sure you know how to use the clutch in the right manner. Riding the clutch can lead to this problem.

2. Brake Friction

There are a few different ways your brakes can create the smell of burning rubber when you’re driving.

For example, if you’re braking hard or dragging the brakes as you’re going downhill, you’re creating friction. This friction can build up and make the brakes start smoking.

If this doesn’t happen often, it’s not a big deal.

Noticing this smell during your normal driving means there’s a bigger problem. In some cases, a caliper piston inside the brakes could seize. When this happens, your brakes will begin to drag all the time. You should address this issue right away.

3. A Motor Oil Leak

When the smell of burning rubber is the result of an oil leak, the scent will be strongest when you get out of your car after a drive. But you’ll notice it while inside your car as well.

As the motor oil leaks, it falls on the hot exhaust. Along with the smell, this can also create smoke and other fumes.

It is most prominent when driving up hills. Because your exhaust gets a lot hotter as it works to push the car up the hill, the burning smell gets stronger too. But it is the easiest to spot when you get out of the car.

4. Electrical Short Circuit

If one of the wires in your car short circuits, it can create a burning scent. This happens because the plastic around the fuses, connections, or wires either burn or melt.

You should never drive a car that has electrical problems. Take your car into a professional so they can repair the problem before you drive it again.

Why Does My Car Smell like Burning Rubber?

In some cases, a plastic bag can get stuck to your car’s exhaust pipe. Every time you go for a drive, the bag starts burning and melting away. This can make your whole car smell like burning rubber when you turn it on. The next time you’re driving around downtown, try to avoid driving over plastic bags.

Does your car need some other basic maintenance? Take a look at these four auto jobs you can do on your own to save some money.