7 Car Smells And What They Mean

7 Car Smells You Might Notice In Cornwall And What They Mean


Everyone around Massena and Ottawa loves that new car smell, right? Well, if you don’t keep up on maintenance, your car could start producing some less savory smells instead. Being aware of the smells your car produces can help you diagnose problems before you see them or before they become irreversible. Here is a list of 7 car smells Seaway Hyundai doesn’t want you to ignore.

1. Rotten Eggs

The gasoline that fuels your car contains trace amounts of sulfur. This creates a by-product called hydrogen sulfide, which smells like the eggs you forgot in your trunk for a week after grocery shopping in Massena or Fort Covington.

The catalytic converter is a crucial part of your exhaust system because it takes this by-product and converts it into odourless sulfur dioxide. If you start smelling rotten eggs when your car is running, your catalytic converter needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, around ON this is usually a pricy fix, but it may be covered under warranty. For more information, call Seaway Hyundai at (613) 933-8135.

2. Maple Syrup

People living near Ottawa and Massena usually aren’t getting a whiff of maple syrup around the car. If you do, you could be leaking coolant. Coolant contains ethylene glycol, which smells sweet but is actually very toxic.

The fix could be as simple as tightening a loose radiator cap or replacing a hose or gasket. If you notice the smell inside the car, it’s likely that you have a bad heater core.


3. Fire and Brimstone

If you’re driving around Ottawa or Lancaster and you smell fire and brimstone you can relax; it’s not the end just yet. What you smell is sulfur from a leaky gear housing or transmission. The gear lube in these components of the drivetrain contain sulfur compounds that act as extreme pressure lubricants.

Over time, the lube will start to deteriorate and even leak, emitting a sulfur smell. You can check for a leak by inspecting any oil substance left behind by your car. If it smells like sulfur, it’s time to visit a mechanic.

4. Burning Moldy Newspaper

If you smell a smoldering, moldy newspaper, you’re either passing by a Cornwall ON millennial spring-cleaning bonfire or you’ve got clutch problems.

The smell results from friction material actually burning off the clutch as it slips. If you smell this under normal driving conditions around Cornwall, your clutch is failing and needs to be replaced.

5. Gas Station

The only time the smell of gas should be in the air around Cornwall or Ottawa is when you are refueling your car. A questionable gasoline odour coming from your car is an indication of a leak. The most likely culprits are a fuel injection line or fuel tank vent hose.

6. Locker Room

Here at Seaway Hyundai we all remember what the high school gym locker room used to smell like in Fort Covington, and you probably do too. You probably thought you left it behind for good. However, your A/C unit could have other plans.

If you smell that familiar sour dankness in your cabin driving around Ottawa it probably means there’s mildew in your A/C vents. There are a few ways to solve this problem, the simplest being running air through the vents with the A/C off. If you can’t dry it out yourself, it’s best to have a technician take care of it for you.

7. Burned Carpet

People living near Fort Covington and Ottawa shouldn’t be smelling burned carpet while driving. If you smell burned carpet while you’re driving, your brake pads are overheated. While this is normal under intense braking conditions like driving down a mountain pass, you shouldn’t smell this under typical driving conditions around Lancaster.

The most common cause for this is a seized caliper piston, but brakes can overheat for a number of reasons. Maintaining your brakes is the best way to avoid problems like these.

There are many smells in and around Cornwall, Ottawa, Lancaster, and Fort Covington, some good, some bad. Whether we like it or not, we get to experience them all. If your car is in good health, it should be emitting no smells, at least none that are abhorrently unpleasant. Being aware of what the bad smells are and what they mean can help you diagnose a problem before it gets worse. If you are ever unsure about the smells coming from your vehicle, stop in to Seaway Hyundai and get it checked out.


Seaway Hyundai is a Hyundai dealership serving areas within and bordering the Cornwall, ON region.


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