It’s never a good thing when your car emits burning odors as many of these are signs that something might be severely wrong with your car. As such, you need to inspect all the potential causes and fix the issue until it doesn’t become a more serious issue.
The good news is that burning rubber smells are relatively common and can be traced to a few distinct sources which means that identifying the issue is rather easy. The bad news is that some of these can cause a lot of damage if they are not noticed early enough. If you want to know all the intricacies of why your car smells like burnt rubber, and how to solve it, be sure to read this article.
Burning Rubber Smell From Car Tire (Problem And Solution)
As stated, there are a few distinct reasons why you notice a burning rubber smell coming from either the tires or the car. Many people tend to believe that the smell is coming from the tire, but in reality, this can also come from all sorts of car components. The most common and easiest fix is to either cool those components down or replace them.
More often than not, a burning rubber smell is due to a rubbery component being exposed to high temperatures or one that that in near proximity to the tire. A burnt rubber smell can also often be traced to issues with the car’s electronics, robber hoses, the timing belt, compressor belts, the clutch, and so on.
Why Does My Car Smell Like Burnt Rubber?
- Clutch plate issues
- Faulty A/C
- Burnt clutch
- Hot and worn-out brakes
- Loose belt
- Burnt hoses
- Aggressive driving
- Improper alignment or suspension issues
If you sense your car smelling of burnt rubber, especially while driving at higher speeds, there is a great chance that something might be leaking. Oil or coolant leaks are the two most frequent reasons why leak-induced rubber burning smells occurs because these can come in contact with hot components such as the exhaust manifold or the engine block.
If you want to solve this issue, be sure to check all of the seals first as these tend to become brittle after a while. There are many automotive products out there that are designed to stop a leak, but even if these do not help, you will have to replace the troubled components such as gaskets for example.
If you sense a burning rubber smell while going uphill, chances are that your clutch plate is to blame because you might be riding the clutch which creates friction that is causing the smell.
To solve this, be sure not to apply contact on the clutch pedal for too long. Engage and disengage the clutch slowly and don’t rest your feet on the clutch pedal if you drive a manual.
As the A/C circulates the air from the outside environment, it means that the cause could be completely separate from your car. However, if your A/C condenser is malfunctioning, it could emit burn rubber odors.
To fix this, you need to take your car to an experiencing mechanic who is likely going to either replace the belt or the A/C condenser. These are mostly down to the A/C belt getting stuck because of a faulty A/C condenser and this accelerates the rate at which the belt deteriorates.
If you own a high-performance car and you love to do launch controls, you should be aware that these can strain your clutch quite a bit, especially if you own a manual or a single-clutch automatic gearbox.The reason why this happens is that the clutch suffers from high levels of friction and because the clutch is being dropped during the initial launch a bit too aggressively.
To solve this, just take it easy while accelerating. Drive around for a little bit and let the car cool off as this is likely going to lower the temperatures which in turn stops the smell.
Hot And Worn Out Brakes
A fairly worn-out brake pad is likely going to cause all sorts of smells, and the one that most people notice is a burning rubber smell. This is also why many people believe that the issue is associated with the tire, but in reality, the brakes are the ones causing it either due to extreme temperatures or an overall state of depletion.
To solve this, you will have to replace all the worn-out components if the issue is due to wear and tear. If the issue is due to higher temperatures, you should drive around for the brakes to cool off, but be sure not to engage the brakes aggressively while doing so.
Cars from today’s day and age come with lots of belts and chains which make sure that multiple components always operate in a synchronized manner. A serpentine belt is known to sometimes slip away due to tensioner issues and that causes friction that translates into a burnt rubber smell.
If these issues are most prevalent while idling, or if the car is shaking and shuddering while driving, it means that the timing belt is the one causing all of this. Be sure to replace the belt in order not to cause any more damage to the engine and all of its surrounding systems.
All cars these days use lots of rubber hoses that connect various parts of the engine, the cooling system, the brakes, the A/C, and the transmission. These can often come in contact with high-temperature components which typically cause these rubbery compounds to melt.
To remedy this issue, you will either have to replace these hoses a few times or simply go for a hose that is more able to withstand constant high-temperature exposure. Either way, be sure to contact a professional before you do any of this as some of these are tasked with essential car systems.
As the title might suggest, if you drive aggressively for a long time, which means taking corners fast, accelerating fast, or braking fast, your tire temperatures are likely going to spike in no time. This means that whenever you stop your car, you are likely going to notice burning smells coming from your tires.
This is a common occurrence as most tires are designed to operate best at higher temperatures. In order to rectify the issue, park the car up and let the tires cool off for a while, or just drive slowly before your tire temperatures go down.
Improper Alignment Or Suspension Issues
If you are 100% sure that the smell is coming directly from the tire, you might be experiencing alignment issues that wear on your tire unevenly. Furthermore, the issue could also be due to faulty suspension components that come in contact with the tire and cause massive amounts of friction.
If a suspension component, or any other component, comes in contact with the tire while driving, it is going to cause huge tire temperature spikes which can even lead to tire blowouts. If that is indeed the case, stop the car immediately and ask for assistance.
Is It Safe To Drive A Car That Smells Of Burnt Rubber?
It depends on what is causing the issue. If the issue is due to aggressive driving, riding the clutch, or being heavy on the brakes, you should be able to drive the car without any concerns. Moreover, sometimes it’s better to keep driving a car before it cools down as that is likely going to save many components from premature wear and tear.
However, if the issue is down to a slipped belt, a burnt hose, worn-out brakes, components coming in contact with the tire, leaks, or issues with the clutch, you should not drive the car as that can create even more damage down the line.
There are countless instances in which cars caught on fire due to hot components coming in contact with certain car fluids and that is why you should not drive the car.
As mentioned countless times in this article, the burning rubber smell does not always have to come from the tire itself, but if you are 100% sure that that is the case, chances are that your tires are hot, your alignment is off, or that some components came in contact with the tire while driving.
If not, there are quite a few potential reasons as to why this could happen. You can solve this issue by either letting those components cool down, adjusting your driving style, or replacing the components that are causing the issue.