Some Causes of Smells Coming From Your Car

5 Things Your Nose Can Tell You About Your Car

Besides that new car smell, there are fairly few odors you experience in or around your car that are pleasant. Your nose knows when something is foul or amiss. Some smells are pretty telltale of a certain condition, while others might present a little more mystery in need of investigation. Here are five odors that are indicators of potential problems with your car.

Hot or Burned Oil

The smell of hot or burned motor oil could mean that a gasket or seal is failing. This lets engine oil leak onto hot engine parts. Additionally, a leaky transmission seal can cause oil to spray all over the engine, including the manifold. These hot engine parts burn off the oil, creating bluish white smoke that wafts from under the hood.

The first thing you should do is check the oil to make sure it is at the correct level and that it’s clean. Small leaks often become bigger leaks, so check under the car, on the pavement where you park, and around the engine for signs of leaks. If your car is running low on oil, the engine can overheat and burn whatever oil is remaining.

If the burned oil smell is coming from the tailpipe (bluish white smoke), it is a symptom of oil leaking into the combustion chamber, which means it is getting into your exhaust system. The oil is burned in the combustion process with the air and fuel mixture, and pushed out through the exhaust system. The exhaust system is one of the hottest systems in your car, dealing with the noxious byproducts and fumes of the internal combustion engine banging away under the hood. If oil leaks into the either the combustion or exhaust system, it is going to be burned. This is usually a sign of an old, worn out engine in need of some serious repair and regular maintenance.

GasolineAAMCO Minnesota Vehicle Bad Smells

If you smell gasoline, like when it’s pumped at the gas station, inside or outside the car, you should take special care to identify the source. It is likely a sign of a gas leak in the fuel line or fuel injection system (if your car has one). A leak in the fuel tank vent hose oftentimes is the culprit behind gasoline odors inside the car, especially after filling the gas tank. At worst, there could be a leak in the gas tank itself.

In older pre-1980’s cars, the smell of gasoline can occur after the car has been turned off due to fuel afterboil. This is often normal and results when a small amount of gasoline continues to burn in the carburetor after the engine is shut down.

Any persistent smell of gasoline, either in the car or outside of the car such as in the garage, should be taken seriously. Any smell of gas fumes can indicate a fire hazard, so it should be checked immediately.

SyrupAAMCO Minnesota Bad Smelling Car

If you detect the scent of maple syrup, it probably means there is a leak in the cooling system. Cooling fluid is leaking onto hot engine parts and being burned away. If there is a leak in the cooling system, you need to check the coolant fluid level, check for leaks in the engine compartment and on the pavement in the areas you park (such as driveway or garage). Left unchecked and repaired, you will risk overheating the engine and causing major damage.

A syrup smell could also mean the engine coolant is boiling after you have turned off the engine. This is due to the inability of the cooling system to dissipate engine heat, so the engine remains extremely hot for an extended time even after it has stopped. If you decide to investigate, wait until the engine has cooled off! Never remove the radiator cap while the engine is running or is still hot. It will cause a massive blow off of superheated fluid that could cause serious injury.

Rotten Eggs or Sulfur

This wonderful stench means your car is in need of a checkup and that the catalytic converter is having some serious issues. The catalytic converter is in the car’s exhaust system and is supposed to convert noxious hydrogen sulfide to sulfur dioxide in the exhaust fumes before they exit the tailpipe. If this is not happening, it means that your engine needs more than just a tune-up, and the catalytic converter could completely overheat and fail, leading to costly repairs.

Burned PaperBad Smelling Exhaust Fumes

If you smell something like burned paper, it could meant that your clutch is overheating. If you’re riding the clutch pedal, it creates excess friction between the clutch facing and slips. The material between these surfaces is made of a paper compound, which gives it its familiar smell.

The smell of burning paper could also mean your brakes are overheating. Riding your brakes, such as when coming down a hill or mountain, creates unnecessary friction and excess heat on your brake pads. You might also have a seized up brake piston, resulting in a “dragging brake.” Or it could be that you just left your parking brake on. In some cars it is easy to forget and actually drive with the handbrake still engaged.


AAMCO Minnesota Can Help Sniff Out and Fix Problems With Your Car

We realize that in order for one to understand some of this, you must know what the “smells like” really smells like. If you’ve never had maple syrup – get thee to a pancake house now – you’ll likely not know what to sniff for. Whatever the smell, if it’s not new car or the scent of that air freshener you just bought to battle the gym socks and mildew in your car’s air filtration and circulation system, then you should come to AAMCO Minnesota for a multi-point diagnostic inspection.

Visit an AAMCO Minnesota transmission repair and total car care center near you. When issues arise and you need affordable, honest auto repair, schedule an appointment with your locally owned and operated AAMCO Minnesota transmission and auto repair center.

If you have questions about your car’s road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Minnesota is a great resource for expert automotive repair and maintenance information. Feel free to call or visit your local AAMCO Minnesota transmission and total car care center.

Other Articles About Car Maintenance & Repair

Sounds Your Car Makes When It Needs Repairs

My Car Rolls When I Put it in Park

Reasons Your Ride is Bumpy and Rough

Car Maintenance on a Budget

At AAMCO Minnesota, we provide exceptional, cost-sensitive service for your transmission and car maintenance and repair needs. We understand that saving money is often a requirement because you’re on a budget – and maintaining a safe and reliable vehicle can seem like an expensive proposition. AAMCO provides expert car maintenance and repairs without breaking the bank. See our complete lineup of transmission repair and automotive repair and maintenance services.image - ca gear shift with words maintenance budget

Sometimes those noises your car is making just have to wait until the next paycheck – or worse, just go unchecked and become larger, more expensive problems. Short of a becoming a complete do-it-yourself mechanic and opening up shop in your own garage, here are some tips and simple things you can do to maintain your car on a budget (and some AAMCO coupons you can use to save money).

Oil Change

Changing your car’s oil is probably the most important and cost effective preventive maintenance you can do. If you take it to a shop, the national average price for a basic oil change is about $46. If you do it yourself, you might be able to save a few dollars, but your actual savings might depend on some factors such as the age of your car, the kind of oil it requires, the brand you choose, tools needed, disposal of used oil, and your time. However you do it, the cost of an oil change should be in your car maintenance budget first and foremost.

Multi-Point Inspection

Some shops, such as your local AAMCO service centers, offer free multi-point checkups to make sure your vehicle is running smoothly and to check for any warning signs of larger problems beyond standard maintenance. These checkups usually are a thorough review of all major systems in your car and a check to make sure you are completely up to date on recommended factory maintenance. If done properly by a reputable mechanic you trust, it can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Independent Shops vs. Dealerships

When you do need to take your car in for maintenance or repairs, it helps to do some research if you don’t already have a reliable mechanic who you trust. Even if you do have a “go-to” mechanic, you can help yourself by doing a few simple things to make sure you’re not charged too much or unnecessary work is being done.

  • For each problem they find with your car have them explain anything you don’t understand.
  • Have them provide a separate written estimate with the total cost of parts and labor for each separate problem they find.
  • If there is an entry on your bill for “shop supplies” or similar, ask what it is and have them itemize the supplies. They might not take it off your bill, but they’ll know you’re savvy.
  • If they suggest replacing parts – even just air filters – ask them to see the worn or broken parts (they have to take them out to know if they need to be replaced, so this should be your first clue to whether they’re being honest).
  • If an estimate doesn’t seem right to you, call some other shops in the area and request a quick estimate for the same job. If something seems amiss, ask your mechanic about it.
  • If you are searching for a mechanic, do your homework. Social media and review websites are sometimes a good place to start. Additionally, word of mouth and recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers can help. Tell the shop so-and-so recommended them. A lot of shops are cognizant of their reputations, especially when it comes to work garnered by referrals.

Aftermarket Parts

You can save money with aftermarket parts and avoid paying unnecessary markup for manufacturer’s brands. Many independent shops will deal solely in aftermarket parts, or ask what your preference is before ordering. Also be sure to get clarification on whether the parts are new or rebuilt/refurbished. They need to be up front about this. Obviously, any cost is passed on to you, but with an independent shop you will at least most likely have an option.

Do It Yourself

At AAMCO Minnesota we’re always happy to help, but here are some easy things you can do yourself that usually don’t require special tools or training.

  • Change air filter
    A clean air filter is important to prevent dirt and other debris from getting into and circulating throughout the engine.
    Tools required: None
    Approximate time to complete: 10-15 minutes
    Estimated cost: $10-$20.
  • Change windshield wipers
    Windshield wipers serve a pretty obvious function and should be checked frequently. Both wipers should be replaced at the same time.
    Tools required: None
    Approximate time to complete: 10 minutes
    Estimated cost: $10-$25 per blade depending on brand, size, and features.
  • Check & adjust air pressure
    Tire pressure can affect gas mileage, handling, and ride. It is important to maintain the optimum pressure for the kinds of tires you have, and the seasons and conditions in which you drive.
    Tools required: tire gauge, air compressor (if you need to add air to tires).
    Approximate time to complete: 20 minutes.
    Estimated cost: Free if you need air and have your own air compressor; 25 to 75 cents at some gas stations.

Coupons and Specials

No matter where you take your car for repairs, there are savings to be had. Many dealership service departments and independent repair shops offer coupons or specials – sometimes as much as 30 percent off retail prices. Check your mail, email, and newspaper inserts for coupons. Making a service appointment online might also qualify you for a discount. Be sure to check the web before you go. Check out current AAMCO coupons for money-saving deals.

At your local AAMCO you get cost-conscious total car care, from transmission repairs and oil changes, to tune ups, mufflers, brakes, and air conditioning service – all at a price that is easy on your budget. Schedule an appointment with us today at one of your local AAMCO Minnesota locations.

Preparing Your Car for Spring

Spring is the time for cleaning and tidying up from winter. This is the time to start taking down the old holiday lights, plant those flowers you’ve been dreaming about all winter, and get your car ready for the long family road trips of summer. While you are making cleaning plans, don’t forget to get your car checked, too. We have compiled a short list of Spring cleaning tasks to add to your list.

image - family getting ready for spring summer outing loading up minivan


Clean the exterior of your car. Driving in the winter is dirty, particularly in places that see a lot of snow and ice. It is typical for cities to sand roads when the road conditions worsen, some cities add salt to the sand mixture to help prevent freezing. Sand (and salt) builds up on the undercarriage of your car and can eventually lead to rusting or other damage. Spring is the perfect time to clean and wax your car. This will help protect your car all season long.


Clean the interior of your car. The inside of your vehicle gets as filthy as the exterior. You are climbing in and out of your car all winter in the snow and ice, getting dirt all over the floorboards and possibly the upholstery as well. Just like cleaning your home, you should start with the top to bottom approach. Begin with the trash and/or personal belongings, vacuum the seats and floors, and then tackle the trunk. This is also the time you can remove your winter specific provisions (shovels, chains, etc.) from the trunk.


Rotate or change your tires. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 – 7,000 miles. For front-wheel drive vehicles, the front tires should be moved to the back and the rear tires should be moved to opposite sides of the front. The opposite is true for rear-wheel drive vehicles. All wheel drive tires will also need to be rotated. If you have been driving with snow tires, you should have all-season tires installed.


You should also check that your wiper blades are working properly, check all hoses and belts under the hood of the car, and check your battery connections. If you are unsure of the condition of any of these elements in your car, please give us a call today. We offer a FREE Multi-Point Inspection, so schedule your appointment with us today.

April is National Car Care Month!

With winter finally coming to an end, people are in a hurry to get back into the activities they enjoy in spring and summer. National Car Care Month reminds you to take care of the issues you’ve been ignoring or putting off all winter. Winter can do a lot of damage to your car without you even noticing. The continuous cold weather, snow, ice, slush, and even road grime, salt, and chemicals all add up to heavy wear on your car and its many wheel  suspension and brake system maintenance in auto service


Spring driving brings its own set of potential issues. The roads can become slick with early rains, due to oil and residue build-up, and can be damaged from the cold months of winter. Are your tires in peak condition? If you’re using snow tires, this would be the time to transition to your regular set. How are your wiper blades? Ice and snow can tear the plastic pieces, making them virtually worthless in rain.


So what can you do to prepare? Schedule an appointment at your preferred AAMCO location. We will start with our FREE Multi-Point Inspection to identify any potential issues going on. We will take a look under the hood to check that the belts are okay, fluid levels are normal, and determine if the computer is reporting any errors. Next we will move onto vehicle performance. We will inspect the transmission, brakes, engine performance and more! After our initial inspection is completed, we will report back with our findings and help you decide what to do next.


We take car care seriously – so much so that we included it in our tagline! Bring your car into your favorite AAMCO Location or Schedule your appointment today and start planning your next vacation.

Sounds Your Car Makes When It Needs Repairs

Cars just aren’t built the way they used to be, and we mean that in a good way! They are reliable, packed with safety features, and dependable. So what do you do when your car starts making a new noise? Do you take it to the mechanic immediately, or do you wait and see if the noise gets worse? Sometimes we recognize the sound right away and know the level of concern we need to have. Do you know what these sounds mean?Loading broken car on a tow truck on a roadside


Squealing or screeching when you brake

Solution: New brake pads, rotor resurfacing or replacement.


This is a tell-tale sign that you need your brakes worked on. These sounds could mean that your brake hardware is worn. This prevents the pads from releasing properly, resulting in excessive heat and noise. Some automobile manufacturers build in brake wear indication system which make a sound so you know it is time for your pads to be replaced.


Humming, roaring, or growling when driving

Solution: New tires or wheel bearings


Tires can really make all the difference when driving. When they become damaged due to use you’ll notice that your car may make some strange noises. However, these sounds can also indicate an issue with the wheel bearings. One way to determine which problem you are facing is to drive at a consistent speed and change lanes. If you notice a change in the pitch as you’re turning the wheel, but then it returns to the first pitch, you’re likely dealing with a bad bearing.


Clickity-Clack sounds in your front-wheel drive car

Solution: Replace CV Joints


If your front-wheel drive car sounds like a train driving down the tracks, there is a good chance that your CV (or constant velocity) joints are going bad. These joints are located at the ends of the drive axels and are extremely hardworking parts. The inner CV joints connect the drive shafts to the transmission, and the outer CV joints connect the drive shafts to the wheels. If you are hearing this sound from the back of your car, this indicates a different problem entirely and may point to your universal joint being bad.


Ultimately, if your vehicle is making any new, unusual sounds, you should get it to the shop as soon as you can. Handling these types of problems before they have a chance to progress is the best way to prevent costly expenses. Schedule your appointment at your favorite AAMCO Minnesota location today and get your car back to normal in no time!

What Gas Type is Best for My Car?

There are quite a few misconceptions about when to use high octane gas in your car. Some people believe that high octane gas provides better performance, which is true if your engine is designed to use this type of gasoline. If your user manual tells you that your engine requires regular unleaded, that is the only type of fuel you should be using.

Some cars require the use of high octane gas, while others merely recommend using this type. With all of the advances in automobile engine technology, cars that recommend using premium gas will typically run on regular unleaded with no major issues whatsoever. At most, you may notice a slight difference in the time it takes to accelerate to your desired speed, but the average driver likely wouldn’t notice such a minute difference. Again, refer to the owner’s manual for what the manufacturer of your vehicle recommends.

Premium gas is more expensive because of the higher percentage of octane. More expensive gas does not inherently mean better gas. Old engines were not able to adjust to fuels with varying octane levels which is why many of us are familiar with the legendary “ping” or “knock” sound that may come from the engine. Today, engines can compensate for low levels by monitoring knock activity and adjusting ignition advance.

Oil companies have spent decades selling you various types of gas, implying that premium is better because it contains additives to help keep carburetors and engines clean. But what are those additives? We are familiar with Ethanol, but for a lot of us, that is all we know about. In most situations, you don’t know because the companies do not disclose that type of information to the general public. If you don’t know what you are purchasing, let alone why you’re purchasing it, you need to do your research. Refer to your owner’s manual to get an idea of where to begin with your gas requirements.

Where you buy your gas can also make a difference. Not all gas stations serve the same gas, the main difference being the additives they put into it. Each company has its own blend and it’s difficult to determine what is best. Always check the labels at the gas pump or do some research for details if you’re curious or concerned about the gas you’re getting at local stations. Also, pay attention to how your vehicle performs after each fill up. If your engine starts “pinging” or you experience a noticeable drop in performance or fuel economy, it could be that your engine doesn’t like the fuel you’re giving it.

If you have concerns regarding the gas you’ve been using, or you’ve heard a noise that is worrying you, please come visit us at your local AAMCO Minnesota! We are available and happy to answer any and all questions you may have about your car. Give us a call today at 1-800-462-2626 or schedule an appointment online.