What’s that Smell, and Should you Worry?

January 8th, 2013 by

Middletown Honda ServiceMany car owners are parents, already familiar with their share of unsavory smells both in and out of the car, but as the kids grow up, the likelihood that a weird car smell is the fault of your kid drops pretty substantially. It turns out that some smells can actually be indicative of some serious problems.

To help keep you, your family, and your vehicle safe, I’ve got a quick run-down of some of the different smells your car can create and just what it is they could mean.

Diag-nose-ing Car Troubles

While some drivers have a thing for the smell of gasoline that I’ve never particularly understood, in general, auto smells are unpleasant or irregular enough to tell you that something unfortunate is probably going on with your vehicle. To get an idea of how serious the problem is, here are some common car trouble smells and what they can indicate:

  • •  Maple syrup– This is indicative of a coolant leak; if you get out of your car and let it run, you may even see some white smoke curl out from under the hood when the coolant, a sweet smelling alcohol, burns off as it drips from a leaky connection. You can make stopgap fixes for this, most involve just adding more coolant, but at the end of the day, you’ll need to get the leak fixed properly.
  • •  Sulfur– Literally smelling like hell (or brimstone, at least), the smell of sulfur is often due to gear lubricant leaking from your transmission or transfer case. Put a pan underneath where you park and check for sulfurous gobs of oily goo. You should probably get it checked out quickly, as this won’t be a problem you can fix at home.
  • •  Gym socks– You’ve got mildew growing somewhere, probably in your air conditioner evaporator. While there’s no easy way to prevent its return, the best way to get rid of mildew like this is to let it dry out. The cheapest solution is to turn off your air conditioner a mile or two away from wherever you are headed and run your fans on high to dry things out.

None of these are particularly dangerous, and really, unless you smell exhaust in your car, you don’t have too much to worry about from a safety point of view. But if you discover any new or strange smells, don’t hesitate to bring your car in to a professional; it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Choose Middletown Honda for Auto Maintenance

Remember, if you’re ever unsure of the performance of your vehicle, get it to a service center quickly. Our service experts at Middletown Honda will be more than happy to help with whatever may be ailing your vehicle (whether it’s a Honda or not!), so schedule your service request now if you’re having trouble.