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Follow Your Nose: Five Vehicle Warning Signs You Can Smell

Posted at Fri, Jul 3, 2020 9:00 AM

While there’s nothing quite as satisfying as that new car smell, it will only last for so long. There are other smells that might grab your attention, though, and it is important to recognize that some smells might herald a problem with your Toyota. These problems can vary in range of seriousness, which is why being able to identify the smell might mean the difference between a quick fix or an expensive repair bill. For your reference, we here at Westbury Toyota have put together a short list of five vehicle warning signs, what they may mean, and what you should do if you happen to notice one of them.

Rotten Eggs

Catching a whiff of rotten eggs is never pleasant, but if it happens while you are driving your car, it could be an indicator that there is a problem with the catalytic converter. The exhaust system of a vehicle produces hydrogen sulfide, which the converter then turns into sulfur dioxide. If it is malfunctioning, what you are smelling is the hydrogen sulfide. The smell of rotten eggs can also be a sign of issues with your engine, subsequently overloading the converter and causing it to break down entirely.

Hot Oil

This is a smell that many people who drive older cars are familiar with. In general, the smell of hot oil is usually a sign that you have an oil leak somewhere, leading to the oil getting into the exhaust system. If you suspect an oil leak, move your vehicle after it has been parked for a while and inspect the ground beneath for any signs of dripping oil. There may also be smoke when your car is running, so get out while it is parked and idling to see if there is any. An oil leak can be an easy, cheap fix if you catch it early on, so be sure to book your Toyota in as soon as possible.


It is never a good thing to smell gasoline when your car is running, as this kind of leak can present a potential fire hazard. It means that there is a gas leak somewhere, explains the experts of The Car Care Council, usually in either the fuel tank or in the fuel injector line. If you smell gasoline coming from your car, be sure to book it in with a technician here at Westbury Toyota as soon as you can.

Sweet, Syrupy Smell

An engine coolant leak will result in a sweet, syrupy smell quite unlike other warning sign car smells. If this scent hits your nostrils and you want to check the radiator, be sure not to open the cap while the engine is still hot. A coolant leak should be addressed quickly, so once this smell appears, it is definitely time to schedule an appointment for your vehicle to prevent things from getting worse.

Burnt Rubber

Burnt rubber is a very powerful stench, and can mean a couple of things:

  • One or more hoses might be rubbing against the drive pulleys that are in constant rotation while your car is running, or
  • The drive belts are slipping, causing friction. If the belts are slipping there may also be an audible sound, so if you have these two signs together there is a good chance that the belts are the problem.

Obviously, neither of these are desirable, so it’s recommended the problem be looked after in a timely fashion.

Trust Your Nose

As you can see, any of these five smells means that your car requires maintenance. Putting off the problem will likely lead to these issues worsening, so be sure to book your Toyota in to be checked over so that you are able to avoid a painfully high repair bill.

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