Sniff your way into understanding certain car troubles

It’s another Friday in 2019! How has your year been so far? Hope you have been conscious of your vehicle maintenance and picked the routine most comfortable, beneficial to the vehicle and to your finances?

This week, we are going to be focusing on a basic DIY skill set that every car owner/mechanic should have.

Sniff your way into understanding certain car troubles.

All senses of the driver should always be on the alert.

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Most important of these, based on the relevance of this topic, isthe sense of smell.

The sense of smell is curated by the nose. Everyone loves the “new car” smell but when that smell fades, there are some signs that can be detected.  These odours can be a warning sign of potential trouble(s) in your vehicle.

Here are some of the types of odours and their possible causes. This can be identified by the vehicle operator.

  1. Burnt Rubber: This smell could mean slipping drive belts or misplaced loose hoses that might be rubbing against rotating accessory drive pulleys or engine parts. An overheated clutch plate can also smell like burning rubber. Do not reach in if the engine compartment is hot.
  2. Hot Oil – The smell of hot oil could mean that oil is leaking onto the exhaust system or leaking onto another hot component. To verify the leak, look for oil on the pavement for oil stains or smoke coming from the engine area. Be sure to turn off the engine before checking for leak as spillage could lead to burns.
  3. Petrol – It is normal to smell a little petrol when a cold engine is first started because of incomplete combustion. If you smell petrol fumes after the engine is warm, though, the fuel tank cap could be loose or the evaporative emissions control system – which is supposed to contain fuel vapours and recycle them through the engine – could be clogged or leaking. The smell could also likely be resulting from a petrol leak, or possibly a fuel injector line, or from the fuel tank itself. Any smell of fuel is a possible fire hazard, so immediate attention should be given.
  4. Syrup – When you detect the sweet smell of syrup, it may be a sign that the vehicle is leaking engine coolant containing ethylene glycol from the radiator, cylinder head or a failed intake manifold gasket. If the smell is strongest inside the car, this could indicate a problem with the heater core, which is located under the dash board/instrument panel. Do not open the radiator cap when it is hot and also ensure to see your mechanic quickly.
  5. Burning Carpet – The smell of a burning carpet from your primarily means that your car brakes, especially pads is having faults and ensure to check them as soon as possible, especially if this smell is happening during normal driving conditions.
  6. Electrical Smell: smell burnt toast? That could be a short circuit in an electrical component or overheated insulation. Take electrical odours seriously, because short circuits and overheated components are common sources of fire.
  7. Rotten Eggs – The smell of rotten eggs is nauseating and is easily detected. The smell could mean the catalytic converter is not converting hydrogen sulfide in the exhaust to sulfur dioxide properly. Caution: a poor running engine that misfires can cause the catalytic converter to become overloaded and fail.
  8. Rotten Fruit: It’s probably what it smells like. Look in compartments of the cars both inside and outside for decomposed banana, apple, agbalumo, or any other fruit. Be sure to clean the affected areas with disinfectant or a cleaner to clear out any resulting bacterium.
  9. Burnt paper: The smell of burnt paper while driving, especially when changing gears, might be a sign that the clutch facing is burning off as the clutch slips. This can happen if the driver is “riding” the clutch, stepping too frequently on the pedal, which causes significant friction. This friction creates enough heat to actually burn the paper-based clutch facings, which can cause the whole clutch to fail.
  10. Musty Basement: if you turn on the heater or air conditioner and it smells like a musty basement, you could have mildew growing inside the AC evaporator. Turn off the AC and drive with the fan on high to dry the system out, you could also get the evaporator core disinfected and cleaned out by a professional.

It’s best if you recognize any of these smells coming from your vehicle and ensure that you visit your car technician/mechanic to fix it.

Till next time we come your way again, keep the questions and contributions coming via the designated channels.

Remember that seat belts can save your life, strap in and stay safe!


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