Monthly Archives: December 2016

Identifying these suspect smells on your car

Most vehicles start out with a “new car smell,” but there are other specific odors that motorists should never ignore. Identifying these suspect smells early on can help car owners be car care aware and avoid the hassle and expense of an unexpected breakdown, says the Car Care Council.

“Unusual smells can be the sign of serious, and potentially costly, trouble for your vehicle. By acting quickly and making necessary repairs, you’ll be able to breathe easy knowing there is no harmful damage to your car,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

The Car Care Council recommends a sniff test of your vehicle to identify any unusual smells, including the following six warning signs:

1.  The smell of burnt rubber could be slipping drive belts or misplaced loose hoses that might be rubbing against rotating accessory drive pulleys. Do not reach in if the engine compartment is hot.

2.  The smell of hot oil could mean that oil is leaking onto the exhaust system. To verify the leak, look for oil on the pavement or smoke coming from the engine area.

3.  The smell of gasoline is likely the sign of a gas leak in some area of the vehicle such as a fuel injector line or the fuel tank. Any smell of fuel can result in a possible fire hazard, so immediate attention should be given.

4.  The sweet smell of syrup may be a sign that your car is leaking engine coolant from a leaky component related to the car’s cooling system. Do not open the radiator cap when it is hot.

5.  The smell of burning carpet could be a sign of brake trouble and a safety hazard. Have your brakes checked right away, especially if this smell is happening during normal driving conditions.

6.  The smell of rotten eggs is never a good one and, if you smell it coming from your vehicle, it could mean a problem with your catalytic converter not converting the hydrogen sulfide in the exhaust to sulfur dioxide properly. This smell can also be attributed to a poor running engine, causing the catalytic converter to become overloaded and fail due to meltdown.

“When you smell any peculiar odor, you should not ignore it. Instead bring your vehicle to a professional service technician that you trust to get an informed opinion on the nature of the odor,” concluded White.

Family Finances and the Environment

According to the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), motorists can help the environment and their own finances by incorporating a few good practices. Regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits are two simple ways any car owner can go “green” — both for the environment and one’s own wallet.

Here are a few specific, easy-to-implement tips from ASE:

  • Keep the engine running at its peak performance. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the manual. A well-tuned engine pollutes less and uses less. Moreover, neglected engine performance problems can cause costly repairs over time
  • If you do your own repairs, be a good steward of the environment. Dispose of engine fluids and batteries properly. A single quart of used motor oil can pollute thousands of gallons of water. Antifreeze poured on the ground can poison wildlife and household pets. Check around at local repair facilities to see if they accept used fluids and parts, or call your local government agencies for information on proper disposal and recycling.
  • Keep tires properly inflated and aligned. If your air pressure is low, you force the engine to work harder and burn more gasoline. Tires that are misaligned also make your vehicle work harder. Consider, too, that poorly maintained tires wear out faster, which means more discards have to be scraped, recycled, or sent to the landfill.
  • If weekend car tinkering is not your idea of fun, find a dependable ASE-certified technician. Ask friends for recommendations. Check the reputation of the repair shop with your local consumer group. Check out the technician’s specific credentials. ASE-certified auto technicians are tested for specific skills and knowledge in national exams, such as engine performance, brakes or suspension.
  • Have your vehicle’s air conditioning system serviced only by a technician qualified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older systems contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which could be released into the atmosphere through improper service. If you have used any over-the-counter remedies such as system sealants or self-service refrigerants, let the technician know prior to servicing the vehicle.
  • Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations. Both habits guzzle gas and put extra wear-and-tear on your vehicle’s engine, transmission, steering and suspension system, and other components. Use cruise control and anticipate traffic patterns ahead. As a side benefit, your brakes will last longer, too.
  • Consolidate daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Park in a central location at the shopping center, and walk from store to store, rather than drive from one end to the other.
  • Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. Remove that roof-top luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag.