Why Your Car Smells Like Burning Rubber After Driving Fast?

On the empty roads, you may act Fast and Furious, but your car reminds you soon enough that it is not a racing car. First, the speed doesn’t go too high, and second, your car smells like burning rubber. You can bear the smell of mayonnaise on the seat and can ignore the smell of the sandwich you left in the car a week ago, but the burning rubber smell is alarming.

If your car is old, it drives like grandma’s car, and if you drive fast, you end up saying that “my car smells like something is burning.” Have you ever given a thought to the burning smell? Maybe the loose rubber hose is something that needs your attention.

car smells like burning rubber
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Yes, burning rubber smell is not uncommon in cars, especially after driving fast, but you need to look into the matter before the problem increases. There are several reasons why a car smells like burning rubber after driving fast.

This guide contains some of the most common reasons why a car smells like burning rubber after driving fast and what you can do to avoid it. There is a chance it can be a very small problem for now, but it can cause a bigger problem in the future; you never know. And to avoid any mishap, learn about the reasons why your car smells like burning rubber and how to fix it.

10 Reasons Why Car Smells Like Burning Rubber After Driving Fast

You may have questions such as why does my car smell like something is burning, why does my new car smell like burning rubber, or what are the possible reasons for the burning rubber smell from the car. There are not one or two but several reasons for the burning rubber smell from the car. Learn about each one of them and how you can fix them.

Reason #1: Loose Rubber Hose

If there is the smell of the burning rubber, then you need to look into it ASAP. There are several rubber parts in your car, and as you drive fast, there is a possibility that one of them heats up and causes the smell.

One of the obvious reasons for the burning smell is a loose rubber hose. Yes, there are many rubber hoses in the engine compartment of your car. If one of them breaks free, loosens up, or weakens, it comes in contact with the hot engine and smells like burning rubber.

A rubber hose also indicates you in other ways, such as smoke, loss of pressure, and leaked liquid on the ground. So, if you find any of the indications along with the smell of burning rubber, look under the hood, find the loose rubber hose, and fix it, if you can. If the damage is severe, take it to the mechanic.

Reason #2: Electrical Short Circuit

If you want to know why your car smells like burning rubber after driving fast, then the reason is that you are using it for a purpose, which your car is not meant to serve. You heard it right. Your car is not the one from “Need For Speed,” but if you use it like one, it will result in an electrical short circuit.

Your car is mostly made up of plastic, and wires are wrapped in plastic. When there is an overload, the wire heats up, turning the plastic hotter and ultimately burns it. The plastic coating wears off, and wires are exposed. This is a severe condition, and you need to fix it as soon as possible.

Inspect the fuse box and learn the reason for the burning smell. If the bare wires are the reason, take them to the nearest shop and get them fixed at less than a dollar each.

Check for the wires and get them fixed as if the wires with positive and negative energy will come in contact, it will result in much more damage to your car, including starting a fire.

Reason #3: Burnt Motor Oil

Of all the reasons why cars smell like burning rubber, some of the reasons may be very dangerous, just like this one. When this motor oil leaks and reaches any hot part of the car, such as an exhaust pipe, it smells like burning rubber. The leaking motor oil is a cause of various problems.

First, you are running on low oil. The oil keeps the insides of the moving parts smooth so that it does not cause friction. Second, it is not easily detectable from the inside of the car. Go and check near the exhaust pipe; if the smell is too strong there, the reason is leaking oil.

It usually happens when you are driving uphill, and the exhaust pipes get hotter and cause the smell of burning rubber. If you have had an oil change recently and the gasket was not fixed properly, then also you can face the problem.

To avoid any more damage to the car, halt your trip, rest 30 minutes as the engine cools down and check if the oil is the reason. Then take it to a mechanic or call one home. It is not safe driving a car with leaking motor oil.

Reason #4: Radiator Coolant leak

One of the possible reasons for the burning rubber smell from the car is that your radiator coolant is leaking. This coolant is responsible for keeping the engine’s temperature at optimum, so it doesn’t get heated up and burn itself on long drives.

Once again, the radiator coolant is sealed with a gasket, and over time it goes bad. Usually, the coolant gets heated up, goes to the radiator, and comes down, and this cycle goes on. If there is any leakage around the radiator, the coolant will leak and reach the hot parts, where it starts burning. It does smell exactly like burning rubber but a little sweeter.

This is a serious problem as if your car runs on low coolant, it will not be able to cool down the engine effectively, and you know the rest.

If you smell anything burning, check for puddles around your car. Again, it is not a problem you can deal with on your own. Go to a mechanic, explain your problem, and get it fixed before it results in a bigger one.

Reason #5: Burnt Clutch

Those with a manual transmission must be more than familiar with clutch and gear stick which is used to change gears. The clutch is used to get the car from a stable position to a rolling one. New drivers face it more often as they keep clutching it and pushing it too hard all the time while driving.

If you keep on pressing too hard on your clutch, you will make it force and disturb other parts of your car. The friction between the moving parts generates lots of heat and causes a burning smell. The clutch is placed between various components, most of them made of rubber.

With your unnecessary pressure, you cause damage, and it burns the paper mesh in the clutch. You can smell the burning of paper mingled with rubber. If you are new to the world of the manual transmission, it is better to take help from a friend or a family member to learn about the vehicle, how to drive and what you should consider while driving it.

Also, get your clutch repaired as soon as possible, or you will only increase the problem.

Reason #6: Engine Oil Leak

Many people complain that their car smells like burning rubber and smoking after driving. They also find brown puddles in the morning in their driveway and do not give it a thought. But it is dangerous. It is evident that the engine oil is leaking, and you need to fix it now.


First, because it is not safe for our car to leak oil like that. Second, it stains your driveway. Third, it is an environmental hazard. So, you need to e a responsible person and get the leaking checked. Your engine is equipped with various gaskets and seals to keep everything in place. With time, these components go loose and bad, and it causes leaking engine oil.

The leaking engine oil, when it reaches the hot parts, causes the smell of burning rubber. Though it is not exactly the same, you can smell the burning. It can fire up your car, it can cause engine failure, and you don’t want any of these results.

The first thing to do is to stop driving the car. Then get a mechanic and get it fixed. Do not drive a car that is leaking engine oil.

Reason #7: Damaged or Hot Drive Belt

Before asking why my car smells like burning rubber, you must check the different belts in your car to ensure that none of them has gone loose. It is one of the possible reasons for the burning rubber smell from the car and sometimes it can be easily fixed at home.

If you have ever seen the insides of your car, you must be aware of the different belts which keep the pieces together. There is a steering belt, compressor belt, timing belt, etc.

If any of these belts go loose and make contact with a hot engine or your air conditioner compressor or power steering pulley gets locked, the belt slips, some of the parts move while others don’t. If you are using a manual tensioner and fail to change it, it can also cause a burning smell. The slipping of the belt causes heat and, thus, the smell of burning rubber.

Check the belt if it is tight enough. Most of the time, you will need a mechanic to fix the problem.

Reason #8: Burnt Out Brakes

Your car is not a muscle car to race Fast and Furious, and when you use it like one and use brakes to the point where they have no option but to burn, you can smell the burning rubber. It is one of the reasons cars might smell like burning rubber after driving fast. If you have the habit of pushing the brakes too much, you are causing the burning rubber smell yourself.

Today most cars use disc brakes which involve squeezing pads against the rotor, a component that is connected to your wheels and stops the car by friction. Using the brakes extremely hard makes the brake pads causing unnecessary friction; they get heated up and give off the smell. If you are on a decline with your car and need to control speed, it is alright to use brakes hard and the occasional smell of burning rubber.

If it becomes a habit of the car to ward off smoke every time you drive, you need to get it checked. It is also possible that one of the components of your braking system is not right. It is possible that your braking pads are pressing the rotor without you hitting the brakes. Check the car if any of your wheels is hotter than the others. Take the car to the shop and get it checked.

Reason #9: Oil Leak from Gasket

There is no one gasket in your car’s engine. There are various gaskets such as Head Gasket, Oil pan Gasket, Water Pump Gasket, etc. A gasket is a silicone or asbestos piece that separates various engine parts, especially the engine block. It looks like paper, but it is a very important part of a car’s engine.

It separates the coolant chamber and combustion chamber so that engine oil and coolant can flow in their respective areas without mixing into each other. If you are wondering about this story of the gasket, you must know that if the gasket goes bad, the engine oil starts leaking. It leaks to the engine block, touches the rubber hoses and other parts of the car, and causes the smell of burning rubber.

As it was said earlier that there are many gaskets, it is important to know the area where the gasket is broken. It breaks off when the engine’s temperature rises, and there is not enough coolant but more water in the system. It causes the generation of excess heat and damages the gasket.

If the problem of burning rubber smell increases with time, you need to take it to the mechanic before the gasket blows off.

Reason #10: External Object in the Engine’s Area

You must have seen the cars that fly by your side, and you can see the large plastic bag near the exhaust flapping at the tail. Well, it can happen to your car as well. Sometimes, your car is perfectly fine, but you wonder why my car smells like burning rubber. It is because the garbage doesn’t leave your car alone.

It is not anyone’s fault, but many times a plastic bag gets stuck near your exhaust pipe, and when it gets hotter, it melts and causes the smell of burning rubber. Many times when you work on your engine or clean up under the hood, you may leave a plastic bag or a foreign object under the hood. When you drive, it burns due to heat and causes the smell.

Double-check when closing the hood, but for the garbage in your exhaust, you can’t do much but try to avoid the litter on the roads. If you smell the burning rubber, check near the exhaust and remove the plastic bags, if any.

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What to Do If the Car Smells Like Burning Rubber After Driving Fast?

It does not often happen that your car smells like burning rubber after driving fast, but when it starts doing so, it is time you need to give it the required attention. It is highly recommended not to ignore the burning smell because, well, something is burning, and even if it may not be a serious issue, it can result in one.

Suppose you keep wondering, “why does my car smell like burning rubber,” you need to look into the problem and fix it. Here are some of the most helpful ways to fix the burning smell of your car.

Park Your Car in the Shade and Let the Engine Cool Down

The smell of burning rubber is not the only smell that you can experience. There are different smells like mold or a sweeter maple syrup smell kind of smell, sometimes it can be the smell of burning oil leaking from your engine or motor, it can smell like burned carpets due to the brake pads or exhaust, but most commonly, it is the burning rubber which makes you want to look at the thing which is causing such smell. Want to know what to do if the car smells like burning rubber after driving fast?

The first thing to do is to park it under a shade. Yes. You must park your car immediately if the car smells like burning rubber and smoking. It is dangerous to drive a car that smells like

that. The reason is simple- it can be dangerous. It can be a small matter or a bigger problem, and you will never figure it out without parking it.

If you step out and feel that it is the hood where the smell is coming from, wait for 3o minutes and let the engine cool down.

Check for External Object in the Engine’s Area

Many times, it happens that even your new car smells like something is burning. You can smell the burning rubber and worry unnecessarily as the car is new. Generally, the problems of burning rubber smell occur in old cars as they have served well for too long and can’t bear running so fast anymore. The car parts get old, the gaskets go bad, the belts loosen up, and you can smell it, the burning of rubber.

If you feel a burning rubber smell in the car, park the car in a shaded area and wait for the engine to cool down. Even if you open the hood and look into the engine, you will only get your hands scalded. After cooling the engine, check if anything is stuck in the engine area.

It is possible that while cleaning your car, you left a plastic bag or a tool inside, which is heating up, burning, and causing the smell.

Start Inspecting the Engine Compartment

You drove very fast, and now your car smells like burning rubber. When you have cooled down the engine, and you have checked that there is no external object stuck in your car’s engine, it is time to smell what kind of smell it is.

It would be best if you were attentive to check whether it smells like newspaper burning, it is sweeter, or it is like burning oil. Every smell is associated with a different part of the car because of which the car smells like burning rubber after driving fast.

Check the engine’s compartment and have a look at the gaskets. The gaskets are silicone or asbestos material that seals the space between the coolant chamber and combustion chamber. There are different gaskets in the engine. If the gasket goes bad, or if the drive belts get loose, or the engine oil starts leaking, it causes the smell of burning rubber.

You must check all of these things if you understand them. It’s not like you can change the parts or components, but you can learn the problem and take the car to a mechanic.

Properly Check the Brakes and Wheels

If your engine’s compartment does not reveal a sign of a problem, it’s time to move on to other parts of the car. Before you ask, ‘why does my car smell like burning rubber?’ you need to know a few things about your driving. Are you hitting too hard on brakes? Is your hand unable to leave the clutch alone in your car, which has a manual transmission? Are you driving your old car too fast?

Wondering about these questions? Well, they can be the possible reasons for the burning rubber smell from cars. After you have checked your engine:

Move to the brakes and wheels.

Check if the temperature of a wheel, from where the smell is coming, is higher than other wheels.
Also check the brakes of the car and see if any of them smells like burning rubber.

If yes, then it is a problem with the brakes and wheels. Why? As you hit the brakes too hard, the friction between the brake pads and disc becomes too much; it gets heated up and smells like burning rubber. In this case, go easy on your brakes, and see if the problem persists.

Sometimes, it is also caused by a failure of a braking component. In this case, you need to get it fixed.

Repair or Replace the Faulty Components

Identifying the problem is not the end. It would be best if you ended the root cause. The burning rubber smell from cars is not normal, and it should be addressed as soon as possible. In case of hitting brakes too hard or clutching the clutch too long, you can fix the situation by altering how you drive.

But it is not possible with every problem. In case of an engine oil leak, a loose gasket, or a drive belt, you need to change the faulty component. The repair or replacement of the components depends on the problem. In the case of an electrical short circuit, if you can change the wires, it’s good.

If you can’t fix anything on your own and are wondering what to do if the car smells like burning rubber after driving fast, diagnose the problem and take it to a mechanic. Don’t ignore the smell.

Call a Mechanic to Deal with the Burning Rubber Smell

It is possible that even after looking under the car, near the exhaust pipe, under the hood in the engine compartment, you are unable to locate the problem and wondering “why does my car smell like burning rubber?” Of all the possible reasons for the burning rubber smell from the car, if you can’t figure it out on your own, it is time to call an expert.

This is where your mechanic walks in. Do not drive the car if the smell is unbearable, as you may damage your car further. In case of excessive oil leaking or an electrical short circuit, it can be very dangerous, and your engine can catch fire.

Thus, take your car to the mechanic and tell him everything about the kind of smell you are experiencing, whether it is mild or excessive, it stinks the car internally, or you can only smell it when outside the car, etc. It will help him identify the problem easily, and you can take your car home with you in a little amount of time. The sooner you do it, the better it will be.

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Car Smells Like Burning Rubber After Driving Fast [FAQs]:

Many people ignore the smell of burning rubber in their cars. When the problem increases, all types of questions come to mind, such as why does my car ac smell like burnt rubber, why does my new car smell like burning rubber, how to fix car smells like burning rubber after driving fast, etc.

If your call smells like burning rubber and your mind is also filled with all these common questions, you are covered here.

Can I Drive My Car If It Smells Like Burning?

The answer is no, but there is a condition. It depends on ‘what is the reason for the burning rubber smell from car?’ If your car smells like burning rubber, stop the car. Go and check your exhaust. If it is the root of the smell, check if there is a stuck plastic bag that is slowly burning.

Also, check for the motor oil if you are moving upward on a hill. If the smell is coming from the engine, and there is leakage of oil, it is advised that you either call the mechanic or drive the car slowly at the shop. It is not safe.

Why Does My Car AC Smell Like Burnt Rubber?

If your complaint is why does my car ac smell like burnt rubber, the obvious answer is A/C compressor. With time the level of refrigerant gets reduced. The lack of lubrication for the AC compressor is also a possible reason.

The system gets overheated and smells like burning rubber. To avoid it, you must get your mechanic to check your AC as well when you take your car for maintenance. The parts may need to be replaced.

Can a Serpentine Belt Cause a Burning Smell?

Many people wonder if a serpentine belt can cause a burning smell. Yes, it definitely can, when any of the accessories of the car’s system get stuck such as AC compressor, water pump, generator, etc. The friction of the belt on the frozen part overheats it and causes a burning smell.

Also, if the automatic tensioner fails, it slips and causes a burning rubber smell. The remedy is to change the faulty belt. Also, you should check the belt every 6 months to assess your health.

Why Does My Car Smell Like Burning Rubber After Driving?

There are several possible reasons for the burning rubber smell from cars. If you are driving too fast and your car is not made for such driving, it is bound to happen that one or another part has to perform at another level. It can cause a burning rubber smell coming from the car.

The first thing you need to do when your car smells like burning rubber is to stop it and check the problem. It can have a garbage bag stuck in the exhaust or engine, leaking engine oil, motor oil burning, brakes, ac, heater, a loose hose, a loose gasket, coolant leak, etc.

In cases of a garbage plastic bag, or burning brakes or clutch, you can easily fix the problem, but the best way to get rid of the smell is to take it to a mechanic as soon as possible. Don’t ever smell a burning rubber smell coming from a car; it can be very dangerous if not attended to in time.

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About Jace Cuban

I am an automotive enthusiast who loves to be around cars and pickup trucks. Applying innovative car care products and installing different latest car accessories are my hobbies. Also, I love sharing my adventurous experience with car lovers.

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