Why Does My Car Heater Smell? 3 Surprising Reasons!

Do you wonder: why does my car heater smell? There are three common reasons such us due to engine debris, dirty vents, and heater core.

The thing is that each vehicle is being run by energy. They also produce heat. The electric system, fluids, mechanical parts, and gasoline operate a car.

why does my car heater smell

As such, there is a possibility that your truck or car will emit foul odors here and there. During colder months, people would start to turn on the car heater only to find out that it produces a foul smell and not the warm and clean air. The foul odor can be attributed to various factors. Let us take a look at them below. Please scroll down. 


3 Common Reasons Why Does A Car Heater Smell

For instance, you are driving, and the air inside the car cabin becomes cold, so you decide to start the heater. Then you notice the burning smell. Instinctively, you will turn it off, so the odor dissipates. But try to turn it on again, and a similar thing will happen. Why is that so? Let’s answer your question: why does my car heater smell?


#1. Engine debris

One possibility is that something has been stuck inside the engine and caused the bad smell. Pine needles and leaves can easily get caught inside the engine. The same is true with the road debris pulled through the front grille. 

People have found various things inside their engines. This includes plastic bags or even insects. Hopefully, the latter is not the case for you. In case you have noticed any bad smell after you turn your heater on, it is recommended that you pull over. Turn the hazard lights on for safety. Then, open the hood and check. Maybe you have picked something along the road, such as a shopping bag. Check and get rid of them. 


#2. Dirty vents

Check the owner’s manual that comes with your car and flip through its maintenance section. You will see there that the manufacturer advised you to take your vehicle for regular service and inspection. That is because the car’s vents will get dirty the same way the vents in your house get dirty. As a matter of fact, the whole system can get dirty, resulting in a burning smell since the dust, dirt, and debris stuck in there will be burned out. 

As mentioned earlier, many things might end up inside the car’s ventilation system. This includes pine needles and leaves. A burning smell will be produced as the heater blows air out over those things. 


#3. Heater core

Another reason behind the smell of the car heater is when the heater core seems to run out of mist. Some signs that can indicate the decline of the heater core include the overheating of the car and the fogging of the window. One aspect of the comfort system is servicing your car’s heater core. With that being said, you need to ensure that you are sticking with your vehicle’s service schedule. If it’s about time to replace your heater core, it will cost you about 600 up to 900 dollars, so the regular servicing will be worth it. 


Other Smells That A Car Heater Can Emit

The most common smell produced by your car heater is the burning smell. But other than that, some different smell can be emitted as well. This includes odors like gasoline, burned rubber, burned carpet, mustiness, syrup, hot oil, rotten eggs, or sulfur. Suppose you smell something like rotten egg or sulfur. In that case, the smell can indicate a problem with the catalytic converter. The hot oil odor often signals that there is a leak in the valve cover or crankshaft. Try checking the pavement when you smell this, and you will see oil there. Smoke may also come from the exhaust pipe. 

The sweet smell like syrup indicates a leak in the hose, heating system, or radiator. This smell is due to the ethylene glycol from the hot engine or coolant dripping. Burning carpet smell is attributed to the dragging or worn brakes, while burning rubber smell is due to the loose belts or hose. In some instances, when you refuel your car, some vehicles can be spilled out, which causes the gasoline smell to enter the car. But when this comes out of the heater, it can indicate a leak in the fuel injection line or vent hose. 

Lastly, if a musty smell is creeping from the vents of the car heater, then there is a mildew or mold growth in the evaporator of your car AC unit. Aside from the bad smell, it can trigger breathing problems, sneezing, itchy eyes, headaches, and other allergy symptoms. 


It’s A Wrap!

Indeed, it is not right for your car heater to stop working or smell bad during winter. Aside from the fact that it is irritating, the odor can indicate more significant issues that necessitate a repair before things get worse. I was hoping you could note that it is not enough to know the reason behind the burning smell from car what it means. After you find out the cause of the issue, the next thing to do is do something about it. Thank you for being with me!

You may want to read related articles; know how to turn on a pool heater and how long does a pool heater last.

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