Foul Food For Thought: 3 Bad Odours that Spell Trouble for Your Vehicle

20 May 2015
 Categories: Automotive, Blog

Very occasionally a car can abruptly thud to a halt for no apparent reason, but more often than not, there's usually some sort of sign beforehand to indicate that something below deck isn't quite right.

However, from time to time a vehicle in trouble may be more subtle—sporadically or permanently emitting expired food-like odors instead of making dodgy sounds. You may convince yourself that it may be the surroundings you're driving through that are causing an expired breakfast-like smell to waft through your vehicle, but in reality it could well be something to do with your car itself.

Listed here are three common odors that occasionally occur in cars that may be reminiscent of bad breakfast items, and what to do when they arise.  


This particular aroma has a tendency to waft itself around vehicles that have trouble converting sulphur from fuel into sulphur dioxide. The problem often lies with the car's catalytic converter, which may have experienced wear and tear over time and is now unable to convert the sulphur into an odorless gas in the ordinary manner. Instead, the sulphur is left to sit in your exhaust pipe and emit the foul smell of rotting eggs.

If you ever encounter this issue with your car, you'll need to check out your catalytic converter. Occasionally the converter itself may be blocked or clogged, and whilst it is possible to rectify this issue yourself, a local garage or mechanic will be able to clear it out for you professionally. In certain cases, the catalytic converter will have to be replaced.


The smell of burnt toast is always a disappointing one, but when you notice it wafting through your vehicle, it could be dangerous.

The aroma of cooked, burnt bread often arises due to an electrical fault in your car—either from an electrical short or burning insulation. This requires immediate attention, as wire overheating can lead to extremely hazardous situations in the future that may even lead to fires starting in your car. If you ever notice the smell of burnt toast whilst you're driving, be sure to pull over the car and contact your mechanic immediately. Always try to avoid driving the vehicle until the problem is repaired. 

Maple Syrup

Whilst the whiff of sweet maple syrup may not be foul enough to concern you when you sense it floating around inside your vehicle, don't be fooled. This aroma may actually indicate that there's a coolant leak inside your vehicle. Not only does this spell trouble for your car, it can actively put you and your passengers in danger. When coolant begins to leak, it emits a toxic substance called ethylene glycol, which surreptitiously parades as a sweetly innocent smell but can in fact be deadly.

The big problem with your car smelling like maple syrup is the fact that the coolant leak may be emanating from one or more of several locations in your vehicle, including the radiator, heater hose, gasket or cylinder head. Whilst it is possible to both find and fix coolant leaks, the recommended course of action is to immediately consult mechanics like 1st Choice Mechanical Repairs when you notice this smell, as they'll be able to expertly identify where it's coming from and how to remove that sickly aroma for good.