How to Remove Bad Car Smells

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While cruising down the roads of Kansas, enjoying your drive, you really don’t want to be worried about strange odors and fret over how to get rid of them. Some odors can indicate vehicle issues that will need further attention from a mechanic.  Others may simply need your attention to clean and remove.

  • Gasoline – The smell of gas may indicate a leak in the fuel system.  Check your fuel cap.  If this is tight, take to a mechanic for inspection.
  • Maple Syrup – This might sound odd, but a leak in the cooling system can often have this odor.  The cause could be radiator, heater core, cylinder head, or manifold gasket.
  • Gym locker – That ripe smell could simply indicate you need a new cabin air filter. Treating the air system with an anti-fungal spray may be necessary if the filter does not take care of the odor.
  • Deep fried oil – Take a look for drops on the ground.  Leaking oil can burn on hot engine and transmission parts, or the exhaust system.  Have the leak fixed before serious damage is done.
  • Burnt carpet – Overheated brakes can have his odor. Check that your brakes are not dragging, or the parking brake was left engaged.  A seized brake caliper could cause this, as well.
  • Burnt plastic – This could be a stray plastic bag that blew under your vehicle and is stuck to your exhaust.  If you find this under your car, likely it will eventually burn off. Burning plastic smells can also indicate a problem with plastic components in your vehicle, so stop by Nightingale Transmissions for an inspection.
  • Rotten eggs – Very likely damage to your catalytic convertor.  This could be a fuel system problem or a plugged convertor.  This needs to go to a mechanic right away.


Many of these odors will pass, and will indicate something needs attention on your vehicle.  If you have other smells that need removed, you can start with some remedies from home.  The vacuum may find something hiding under the seat, or suck out odors in your upholstery.  Steam cleaning may do the trick, if the vacuum didn’t get it.

Some odors are more invasive.  Cigarette smoke will require a deodorizer sprayed throughout the car and the heating and air conditioning system.  Charcoal and baking soda are great ways to absorb smells.  Natural air fresheners can be as simple as ground coffee, vanilla extract on a cotton ball, or mint extracts.

If you have an odor that concerns you or have trouble identifying it, you are always welcome to call Nightingale Transmissions, and we will inspect and recommend a course of action for you. Call us at 620.654.3445.

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