What A Burning Oil Smell Says About Your Engine

Does your car smell like burning oil? It could be a sign of serious trouble. Find out what a burning oil smell says about your engine, and what you can do about it, with WeBuyJunkCarsFast.

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A burning oil smell is never a good sign.

Your car has a variety of liquids flowing through it at all times and most of them are meant to remain inside your vehicle. So, if you’re smelling burning oil, then a crucial fluid has made its way out.

Read on ahead to find out why your car might be smelling like burning oil and what you should do about it.

What Does Burning Oil Smell Like?

why does my car smell like burning oil

For the most part, your car is not supposed to emit smells. Sure, you can smell gasoline at the pump, but that scent should not linger. If there is a consistent smell in your car—specifically, an unpleasant one—then, there is likely something going on.

Burning oil is indicative of an issue with your engine and should not be ignored. But, how do you know if what you’re smelling is oil burning?

Here are five of the most common car smells that might indicate a problem:

Rotten eggs or sulfur: This smell is associated with the catalytic converter, particularly when it can’t process hydrogen sulfide properly.

Sweet, syrupy smell: Coolant has a distinct sweet smell that is much like maple syrup. If you smell something sweet, then there might be a radiator leak.

Burnt rubber: This smell can come from either your tires or the rubber belts and hoses in your engine. You would smell this in your engine if a hose or belt fails or gets too tight.

Musty scent: If your car has a musty smell, then you may have mildew in your AC.

Burnt carpet: Overheated brakes can give off a scent of burnt carpet.

If you’ve never smelled burnt motor oil before, it can be difficult to identify it at first. However, it does have a distinct and intense smell.

Burning oil smells in a car can be rancid and caustic — it would be hard to mistake it for another, more common smell like gasoline.

What Does The Smell Of Burning Oil Mean?

Smelling burning oil coming from your car means that motor oil has made its way into the combustion chamber. When your engine is working properly, this does not happen.

You might have a minor issue like a leak somewhere in your engine or it might be a much bigger issue. Read below to learn about the most common reasons for burning oil.

What Causes Burning Oil?

Oil burns when it comes into contact with a hot surface. The hottest part of the engine is the combustion chamber. If oil is burning inside the engine, that is where the smell would be coming from.

However, the oil can also burn outside of the engine and land on other hot metal surfaces.

These are the most common causes for a burning oil smell in cars:

  1. Worn-out piston rings: These prevent oil from getting into the combustion chamber. If they are too worn out, the oil will find its way inside.

  2. Damaged oil pan: This part contains the motor oil that flows throughout the engine. Oil can leak out of a broken pan and get onto hot metal surfaces.

  3. Blown head gasket: This component creates a seal between the engine block and cylinders. A broken head gasket will allow oil to seep out of the engine block.

  4. Worn PCV valve: A broken PCV valve can cause excess pressure in the combustion chamber, causing seals and gaskets to break, allowing oil to get into the chamber.

  5. Worn or broken seals: Seals that work to keep oil from getting into the combustion chamber or out of the engine can wear out or break. Then, the oil can get out and burn up.

Can I Drive My Car If I Smell Burning Oil?

It is not recommended for you to keep driving if you smell burning oil. Doing so can further damage your car and put you and other drivers on the road in danger.

Continuing to drive with oil burning can result in:

  • Engine misfiring

  • Low coolant

  • Low motor oil

  • Engine seizing

  • Blue burning oil smoke

  • Overheating

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Burning Oil In A Car?

On average, it costs about $600 to fix an engine burning oil. This is if you need to replace one or two simple parts like a spark plug or valve seal.

However, in an instance where you need a complex job done or total engine replacement, you can be looking at spending $5,000 or more.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to pay to replace some of the most common parts associated with burning oil:

  • Spark plug: $16 - $100 per spark plug

  • Piston rings: $75 - $200

  • Gasket: $100 - $900

  • Oil pan: $50 - $575

You will also be responsible for labor cost. This is usually the costliest item on the bill when it comes to engine repairs. Depending on the exact service, you can be looking at spending between $250 and $5,500.

If the cost of the repairs rises that high, it might be in your best interest to sell your car as junk.

Sell Your Car With WeBuyJunkCarsFast

car smells like burning oil after driving

Repairing a car with burning oil can be expensive. It can cost as much as a down payment for a new car. So, it’s understandable if you’d rather sell your vehicle as-is than try to get it fixed.

WeBuyJunkCarsFast offers a fast and simple process for getting your damaged car off of your driveway and a check in your hand. Here’s how:

  1. You get a free quote for your car in 90 seconds by using our calculator.

  2. You accept our offer and schedule a free vehicle pickup by a local towing company.

  3. Get your check once a tow driver arrives!

We don’t haggle and you get the exact amount you were quoted.

Try our calculator and get an estimate today!

What Should I Do If I Smell Burning Oil?

If you smell burning oil while driving, you should schedule a visit to a mechanic as soon as possible. To stop your engine from burning oil, you will need a trained technician to identify the cause of the smell and provide you with an estimate for repairs.

Why Does My Car Smell Like Burning Oil But No Leak?

If your car smells like burning oil after driving but you don't see any oil under your car, then likely, the oil is burning up inside your engine. There might be an internal leak allowing the oil to get into the combustion chamber.

This is why it’s important to look out for various signs of engine damage and have your car professionally inspected if you suspect something is wrong.

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