Question to all you car experts out there...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by ideal.dreams, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. ideal.dreams, Dec 2, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010

    ideal.dreams macrumors 68020

    ideal.dreams

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Location:
    OH
    #1
    I've been noticing a burning smell in my car lately. It's not constant, and it comes and goes when I stop quickly or when I accelerate quickly. I'm not sure if it's these two factors that's causing the smell or if it's just a coincidence, but I would like to know if anyone can shine some light on what the smell might be...

    Thanks

    Edit: After doing a lot of research online, I've found others experiencing the same problem. One person noticed the smell when the defroster was on, another noticed it after an air filter change. It's cold here in Ohio so I have the rear defogger on constantly and the front one on frequently. I also had my air filter changed a few weeks ago. Hope this new information can help a little :)
     
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #2
    Odd that it happens both braking and accelerating. Brake binding on?
     
  3. ideal.dreams thread starter macrumors 68020

    ideal.dreams

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Location:
    OH
    #3
    Like I said, I don't know if that's actually the cause or if it's just a coincidence. How can I tell if the brake binding is on? I'm completely lost when it comes to cars.

    Edit: I'd also like to point out that the smell comes and goes when I have the climate control on, and also that I replaced my air filter a while ago.
     
  4. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
  5. ideal.dreams thread starter macrumors 68020

    ideal.dreams

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Location:
    OH
    #5
    Automatic.
     
  6. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #6
    You need to get down and look at the brake pads within the callipers (on both sides of the brake rotor). It's unlikely that you wouldn't notice it though: there'd be noise and quite possible you'd feel it. If it's coming via the air con system then I'd look into that first of all. Could a blower motor burning out?
     
  7. gr8whtd0pe macrumors 6502a

    gr8whtd0pe

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2008
    Location:
    Belle, WV
    #7
    What kind of car is it? Mileage, etc? If it has a lot of miles it could be passing oil out the breather of the valve cover when the engine shifts around while accelerating or slowing down hard, happens a lot in auto crossing. If that is the case its not really a big deal. But More info is needed before that conclusion is reached. Also what part of Ohio? I might know someone close to you that can check it out for you. We have a lot of Southern Ohio members on http://www.wvmotorsports.com.

    When they changed your air filter, did they top off any fluids? They may have just spilled some and you are catching a whiff when your car warms up.

    Once again all speculation without further info.

    BTW rear defroster is purely electrical. If it was that there would be smoke in the rear deck.
     
  8. ideal.dreams thread starter macrumors 68020

    ideal.dreams

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Location:
    OH
    #8
    It's a 2003 Cadillac CTS. A little over 70,000 miles on it. I'm in Northern Ohio.
     
  9. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    #9
    Ah, then you're not far from a mechanic. Take it in and have the pros diagnose the cause for you.
     
  10. Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030

    Big-TDI-Guy

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    #10
    If it's electricity related (loading of the alternator / belt slippage) - turn on your headlights, crank up the blower, and turn on all your defrosters - if it shows up immediately that could be it.

    Your AC unit may be on the fritz - most cars turn on the AC automatically when the front defogger is on (it dries out the air which helps defog your windshield faster)

    When you accelerate rapidly - the air compressor on most newer vehicles automatically cuts out - to temporarily reduce the load on your engine.

    Smelling it during acceleration and after stopping - it's possible the smell is there the whole time - but when you're accelerating hard you're likely coming from a slow speed / stop - so this odor that's there the whole time, builds up. (once you're driving - the air movement dilutes the odor)

    Does this happen from a cold start - or does it have to be running for a period of time first?

    What type of burning smell? Rubber? Oil? Fried electronics? Is it a sweet smell? Acrid?
     
  11. ideal.dreams thread starter macrumors 68020

    ideal.dreams

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Location:
    OH
    #11
    Regarding your questions, I have never noticed it upon initially starting the car - it usually comes about after it's been running, and it's not every time it runs.

    If I had to specifically say what it smells like, I think fried electronics would fit the description best.
     
  12. ipsb11 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2009
    #12
    "Burning" smell is pretty fauge...

    Anybody else think that it could possibly just be hot coolant on the passenger floormat?

    OP, is there any fluid appearing on your floorboards? If so, maybe a heater core issue.
     
  13. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Location:
    On tenterhooks
    #13
    You got any critters trying to live within your fuse panel?

    Or maybe a squirrel, sequestering his nuts, for the winter??
     
  14. ideal.dreams thread starter macrumors 68020

    ideal.dreams

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Location:
    OH
    #14
    ipsb11: There's been a lot of snow in Ohio and the floormats are constantly soaked from all of it, however I didn't notice any before the snow.

    iJohnHenry: Not that I know of...
     
  15. senseless macrumors 68000

    senseless

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    #15
    Floormats that get soaked and dry a few times can smell really bad. The odor could be activating when the interior warms up a bit. Run them through the washing machine, if this is the case.
     
  16. ideal.dreams thread starter macrumors 68020

    ideal.dreams

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Location:
    OH
    #16
    As I said above, I noticed the smell before the floormats were going through wet and dry cycles. Also, I doubt that it would produce a burning smell. It'd be more of a musty smell if anything, no? Thanks anyways though :)
     
  17. Fezwick macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2002
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    #17
    Which air filter did you change? Cabin air filter or the engine air filter?
     
  18. ideal.dreams thread starter macrumors 68020

    ideal.dreams

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Location:
    OH
    #18
    Cabin.
     
  19. ideal.dreams thread starter macrumors 68020

    ideal.dreams

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Location:
    OH
    #19
    A year later and I have just taken the car in for another problem. I mentioned the smell and after the mechanic had it for a day, he told me the smell was from a bad valve cover that is allowing just a small amount of fluid to leak onto the manifold and on to the exhaust.
     
  20. Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030

    Big-TDI-Guy

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    #20
    So it was oil? Did it smell like oil? (curious)
     
  21. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    #21
    There you go!
    Those auto mechanics know lots about, um, autos.
     

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