Types and Causes of Burning Smell From Car When Accelerating

burning smell types & causes

There are multiple causes for the burning smell from car when accelerating, and it could be troublesome. It’s crucial to become familiar with these several causes to identify the real problems.

Any component of your car emitting strange or offensive odors indicates that element is broken or worn out. There are numerous causes for the burning smell from cars when accelerating. The burning smell from car when accelerating needs attention as soon as possible since it poses a health risk. No matter what the problem is, the commuters are breathing something that they shouldn’t be. 

Automobiles and trucks use various fluids, have distinct electrical configurations, and occasionally have different assembling methods. Therefore, the likelihood of such unpleasant odors increases.

Type 1: Smell Of Burning Rubber

There are numerous rubber parts in your car that are prone to burning if there is any heat source nearby. A prevalent issue with the burning smell from a car is that it smells like burnt rubber after driving. It indicates that the engine of your vehicle is operating for a long duration. If you start to smell burnt rubber in your car, the clutch, drive belt, oil leak, and coolant leak are typically to blame.


Drive Belt

burning smell from car when accelerating

The drive belt transmits motion to other components and keeps them moving. The driver may observe strange sounds coming from his car, such as loud slapping, screeching, or pounding sounds, in addition to the distinct smell of burning rubber. Burning odors usually develop when one of the accessories connected to the drive belt or serpentine belt is locked.

If this happens, the pulley will be frozen solid while the belt rotates, causing the belt to drag and emitting the burnt rubber smell. 

Clutch Problems 

The clutch may also be the source of the burning odor. The clutch is a mechanical mechanism that transfers engine torque to the wheels or drivetrain. By pressing against the pressure plate, the clutch shifts the transmission into neutral so the driver can change gears.

However, the clutch will overheat and burn if you don’t fully release it before or after changing gears or pressing the clutch pedal.

Coolant Leaks

If left on a heated surface for a long then power steering fluid, transmission fluid, oil, and even coolant will emit a burning smell. It may occur if there is a leak or overfilling of another fluid. The problem arises if there is a blown gasket causing the oil to spill readily. The function of the gasket is to seal the engine cylinders and prevent hot oil from dripping onto neighboring rubber components.

Type 2: Smell of Burning Plastic

The odor of burning plastic resembles the smell of burning rubber. When your automobile smells like burnt plastic, the reason could be the fan, resistor, and other high-temperature electronic components.


Broken or Clogged Heater

When burning plastic is detected, check the heater first. There could be dust accumulation, and some large particles or debris might obstruct the vent.

If this is not the cause, the heater may be malfunctioning, and the antifreeze is leaking into the vents. In the worst scenario, a component of the heater may have melted or broken. 

Burning of Electrical Parts

car smells like burnt matches

An electrical short circuit in the engine is a significant contributor to the burning smell in a car. Although electric wires carry a lot of heat, they are typically trapped in the wiring and other system parts. The exposed wires may rub against one another and create a short-circuiting, resulting in a fire.

In this situation, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a technician. Handing over to a professional mechanic can help you locate the cause of the electrical issue. 

Type 3: Smell of Burning Oil

The burning oil smell from a car when accelerating is an indicator of a big issue in your vehicle. When you notice a burning oil smell, stop the automobile and do an investigation. It could be challenging to identify the cause of a burning oil smell using only your nose. So it is advisable to leave the work to an expert mechanic and save time.


Old Motor Oil

Every vehicle must perform an oil change procedure at the proper intervals. Your engine is likely burning too much oil due to outdated engine oil and a stressed oil filter if you notice the smell of burning oil. Moreover, there will be visible noxious fumes emerging from the exhaust pipes at the same time.

Your car would run on contaminated or dirty oil if you neglected to replace the oil on schedule. Consequently, there will be a burning smell of oil coming from your automobile. 

Engine Oil Leaks

With continuous use, there will be wearing out of the car components. The engine’s oil can leak out through broken or worn head gaskets, hoses, and even the oil filter. As a result, the engine’s regular heating and cooling cycles gradually develop microscopic cracks. There is also a good probability that this oil will seep into other parts of the car if the oil filter is loose.

When this leaky oil gets to the hot engine, it burns off, giving out the smell of burning oil.

Damaged Oil Plug and Loose Oil Filter

Damage oil plugs and loose oil filters are two potential causes if you smell burning oil. An oil filter may become loose over time if used under pressure, especially if you frequently travel on rough roads. A loose oil filter may be responsible for oil spills around the engine. Once the oil burns, you may smell burning oil. Another red flag if you notice oil beneath the vehicle. In this situation, check the oil filter to see whether it needs to be changed or properly adjusted.

A faulty oil plug is an additional possibility. If the oil pan plug sustains damage, then oil might leak into the exhaust system and cause the smell of burning oil.

Type 4: Smell of Burning Carpet 

If you detect a burning carpet-like odor, then this sort of odor usually appears when your brakes aren’t working correctly.


The brake pads or rotors may be overheating if traveling down a steep hill. These hard and pressure movements may result in early brake deterioration or difficult situations like brake failure.

If the smell persists and you haven’t been driving in stop-and-go traffic or on lengthy descents, have your brakes inspected immediately. The stench could also be caused by dragging or sticky brake calipers. 

Burning smells have the power to spark fires, destroy engines, and malfunction your car fully. Therefore these warning indicators of odor problems shouldn’t be ignored. Although you technically could drive your automobile while it smelled like fire, you shouldn’t, as things could quickly get dangerous.

The best solution is to visit a mechanic right away or take care of the root problem.

We hope this blog helps you identify the reasons for the burning smell from a car while accelerating. 

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