Why Does My Car Smell Like Burning Oil? – Causes and Fixes

Any component of your car emitting strange or offensive scents indicates that the element is broken or worn out. For instance, the burning oil smell through vents might indicate problems for a number of different causes. Since the burning smell from automobiles is also a health issue, it should be treated as soon as possible. No matter what the issue is, you and your spouse/ friend in the car are inhaling something you shouldn’t be.

Continue reading to discover how to differentiate between the completely different sorts of burning smells in a car (like burning oil smell but no leak), the cause of the issue, how to resolve it in each instance, and how to prevent the issue in the future with appropriate maintenance and safe driving practices.

Causes of Burning Oil Smell from Vents

Every form of burning oil odor coming from vents points to a different problem with your automobile. Here are some frequent causes behind the burning oil smell coming through vents:

1. Exhaust System Oil Leakage:

There could be a burning oil smell through the vent. Oil might leak into the hot engine surfaces if motor oil were to leak from any area or component as a result of a crack, puncture, or loose component. It could also emit the smell of burning oil. Seeping oil onto the ground and sticky muck coating the bottom of your engine room are signs of oil leaks. So when the car smells like oil inside, get alert and get into action to fix the leak.

READ ALSO: Common Problems After Changing Fuel Pump

2. Oil Leakage Through the Valve Cover:

When there is oil smell coming through air vents, then it could be an oil leak through the valve cover, which is also one of the most frequent causes of burning oil smell but no leak that is visible when you open the bonnet. Oil seepage into the exhaust system might result from the poor gasoline leak at the back of the valve cover. The engine bay will therefore emit a burning oil smell through vents.

These leaks are difficult to detect since the lubricant droplets immediately evaporate and leave no trace. The ones coming from the valve cover, however, usually remain to the side. By default, the engine is titled in this region. Diesel will seep if the valve cover bolt is weak or faulty. Its gasket might be worn out after several years of use, allowing the oil to leak.

3. PCV Valve Leak:

Image Credit: Freepik

The positive crankcase ventilation system is regulated by PCV valves located on your valve covers. A malfunctioning PCV valve can damage your valve cover gasket, trap high pressure inside the valve cover, and loosen the bolts. This may result in oil seeping into your engine compartment, which, if spilled on a hot surface, would smell like burning oil. If a malfunctioning PCV valve is found, you must inspect the valve cover gasket’s sealants since a malfunctioning PCV valve might soon rupture your gasket and knock the bolts out of place.

4. Exhaust Leak:

Exhaust Leak

Your automobile may have frequent exhaust leaks if there is a burning oil smell through vents. They emit the odor from the engine area through the AC vents. The gaseous emission will result in gasoline in the cabin, especially when there is breakage close to heated exhaust pipes, engine manifolds, or the catalytic converter.

How to Get Rid of Burning Oil Smell in Car?

Burning Oil Smell in Car Solution

It is advised to examine yourself to identify the source of the leak or to bring your car to the closest auto shop for repairs if you smell burning oil or see white exhaust smoke. If you keep driving while the oil is spilling, your automobile will sustain more serious damage, necessitating more costly repairs.

We are sharing the steps on how you can permanently get rid of the burning oil smell coming through air vents because using an air freshener is never the solution! So this is how you get rid of the odor when the car smells like oil inside:

1. Determine The Cause, Root it Out:

When your car smells like burning oil after driving, immediately try to figure out the cause. A fix in time saves nine — applies here!

Based on the previously stated causes of the burning oil smell from the car, you can determine the cause of oil smell coming through air vents of the automobile. Gasoline spilling from overfilling the power fluid is the straightforward cause that may be identified. It is more difficult to identify the problematic part. if there is a burning oil smell but no leak or the burning oil smell from the car is coming from the brake, gearbox, or engine. In this situation, you should have a mechanic properly inspect it.

2. Identify Minor Signs of Leak:

If you don’t anticipate a burning oil smell through vents after an oil change or a burning oil smell through vents while driving, then here are a few common signs to consider at first.

  • The engine may heat up more quickly than usual if you have problems shifting or if there is a bothersome sound. It causes the level of fuel to drop without any obvious leaks.
  • Do not wait a long time to fix them. You cannot just plug the leak to stop the spill after your automobile starts to idle with an oily odor.
  • If the fractured gearbox crack is worn out, the diesel gaskets and pistons will also be harmed. The gas will no longer be secured.

3. Is it Normal to Smell Burning Oil After an Oil Change?

No, it is not typical to smell burning oil after an oil change if everything was done properly and there is no oil leakage in your vehicle. The following factors are frequently to blame for the burning oil smell through vents after an oil change. And your further CTA will depend on these

A. Oil Spilling:

Oil Spilling

Oil spills occur frequently and openly during routine oil changes. You may smell burned oil coming from the area around your car if this oil gets into the exhaust or any other hot spot. There is no need for concern, even if the burning smell may remain for a while.

B. Tighten the Plug of the Oil Drain:

You will smell burning oil when it meets any hot car engine surface if your oil filters, oil box cover, or drain plug are improperly attached or loose.

4. Detect Leaks & Fix Them:

If your car smells like burning oil after driving often after each oil change session, it would be advisable to double-check everything. Oil is necessary to keep the engine, brakes, gearbox, and other mechanical components in working order. When you drive your car and notice noise or pain, along with a strong smell of burnt oil, or if your motor warms up irregularly, you may have a leak. It would be wise to do a thorough review and not dismiss these issues.


You can keep on driving if the heating system is the source of the burning oil smell coming through the air vents. But if your car smells like burning oil after driving, then long-distance travel is not advised. You should stop your car as soon as you can if the stench is overwhelming or if you find a significant issue with the heating system.

Finally, if you smell oil coming from a vent under the car, stop driving right away. As soon as you can safely do so, roll down the windows and pull the car over to the side of the street. Stop the car’s engine. Without pushing the car any further, wait for the repair expert/mechanic to reach you.


Q: What causes the smell of burning oil in a car?
A: Possible causes include leaking gaskets, worn-out seals, engine oil leaks, or a faulty oil filter.

Q: Can driving with a burning oil smell be dangerous?
A: It can indicate underlying issues that may lead to engine damage or fire. It’s advisable to address the problem promptly.

Q: How can I identify the source of the burning oil smell?
A: Inspect the engine bay for visible leaks or oil stains. A mechanic can perform a thorough diagnosis to pinpoint the exact cause.

Q: What should I do if I notice a burning oil smell?
A: Check the oil level and condition first. If it’s low or contaminated, have it changed. If the smell persists, consult a professional mechanic.

Q: Are there any DIY solutions to fix the issue?
A: Simple tasks like tightening loose bolts or replacing a faulty oil cap may help, but major repairs should be left to professionals.

Q: How much will it cost to repair a burning oil smell issue?
A: Costs vary depending on the cause and severity. It’s recommended to get estimates from qualified mechanics for an accurate assessment.

Q: Can regular car maintenance prevent a burning oil smell?
A: Yes, routine oil changes, inspections, and addressing minor leaks promptly can help prevent the occurrence of a burning oil smell.

Similar Articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Most Popular