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Auto Repair Ann Arbor

The Nose Knows: Fast Car Repair in Ann Arbor for the Car Smells You Should Never Ignore

fast car repair Ann Arbor

At Complete Auto Service of Ann Arbor, we offer fast car repair in Ann Arbor. We know how important your car is to you. That’s why taking care of your car can be as critical as taking care of your own health – in many parts of this country, we don’t have reliable, available, and affordable public transportation. We’re responsible for providing and maintaining our own vehicles. 

You track your own health daily or you pay the price later, and the same goes for your car. 

Being aware of issues involves most of your senses. You watch gauges, listen for unusual sounds, and even feel when things aren’t quite right, but your sense of smell can also make you aware of problems before they put your car out of action. 

Some of us have kids, and the smells in our cars range from ancient bananas and yesterday’s French fries to the unhappy odors associated with the bodies of small children (ewwww!). 

We aren’t talking about those smells, though.

Some smells will happen suddenly, and some will sneak up on you over an extended period. Other odors can fool you and send you on a wild goose chase to find the source. Maybe you can identify them, and perhaps you can’t.

Some Smells You Can’t Identify

Believe it or not, some smells get into the car’s cabin, and you have no idea what it is. 

We all know the smell of a skunk. It’s one of those immediately identifiable odors that makes everyone in the car cringe. Opening the windows doesn’t help, because it’s coming from the outside! Yuck. You have to wait this one out.

There can be other smells that command attention. Maybe you or your significant other took the groceries out of the trunk and missed something. Was it a carton of milk? On a hot summer day, that’s going to spoil, and you’ll be gagging and driving at the same time. Do yourself a favor: double-check to make sure you removed all the groceries from the car.

If you still can’t identify the odor, you could always ask your spouse or kids for help.

The vehicle you drive every day operates many different systems, from the engine to the radiator to the heater and air conditioner to the insulation of the passenger cabin. You may be able to track down problems in most of these systems by staying aware of strange smells. 

Tips For Removing Odors From Your Vehicle

Baking soda isn’t just for muffins; it’s a universal odor buster. That’s why we put an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator, to absorb odors from foods that smell up everything around them. Onions are one of those culprits.

But baking soda in your car? You betcha. Take a wet cloth and wipe the affected area (seats, floorboards, doors, center console) and other spots if needed. Pour on the baking soda and let it sit for a while. Later, use a vacuum to remove the baking soda. 

You can also spray with vinegar. Fill a bowl with vinegar and let it set overnight. Or spray a mixture of vinegar and water. Never use vinegar on carpets or seats without diluting it, as it can cause damage.

Don’t forget that air fresheners can be a great help in masking odors. 

Smells You Should Never Ignore – Bring Your Car to Us for Fast Car Repair in Ann Arbor


When you filled up, did you get some gas on your shoes or clothing? That smell should go away pretty quickly, but if you keep smelling “raw” gasoline inside your car or around it when it’s parked, you may have a problem. 

The car may have a leak in its gas tank or gas line, which you can find if there’s a puddle under the car. But the smell may also come from your engine if its timing is off or you have a leak in a fuel injector. Have you checked to see if it’s losing fuel? If you’re unsure, there’s no waiting line at Complete Auto Service of Ann Arbor. We can check it for you right away.


You know what exhaust smells like, but you shouldn’t be smelling it inside your car while driving. You may have a leak in the seals around the passenger compartment or somewhere in your exhaust system, and it’s coming into the vehicle. This one is dangerous because it contains carbon monoxide and other chemicals that can damage your driving ability – or kill you outright.


Here’s another chemical that you shouldn’t be breathing. It’s that rotten-egg smell, and it usually comes from your air vents. Problems with your fuel or transmission system can cause this stink.

Burning Rubber

Have you been doing donuts in the high school parking lot? If not, this smell usually means you have at least one loose hose or belt that’s started moving around and hitting a hot engine part.

Burning Plastic

This smell can tell you that part of the electrical system is worn or overheating; it’s not something you want to ignore.

Burning Brakes

The burning brake smell is distinctive, and you’ll smell it if you depend on your brakes too much when driving down a steep hill or if they are worn. The emergency brake can also give off this smell, along with many parts of your braking system. Let your brakes cool whatever you’re doing and wherever you are. You don’t want brakes to stop working.

Musty Smell

If the odor comes from your air conditioning vents, mold may have grown in the system and is blowing on you. 

Even if you don’t use air conditioning, leaves and other junk in the air vents can mold and cause this smell. If you left windows open during a rainstorm, ran your car through the car wash with the windows open, or have a leaky seal, you may have mold or mildew growing in carpet or other fabrics. Again, driving in a moldy or mildewed car isn’t good for your health.

Burned Oil

If you suddenly smell burning oil as you drive, stop and check that you have the correct amount of oil in your engine so that it doesn’t overheat. Another thing to check is your water pump. If water isn’t circulating to cool your engine, it will begin to overheat and burn oil. 

A third fluid to check is your transmission fluid, which must also be filled with the proper fluid.

Smell something sweet like maple syrup? This is coolant (antifreeze), leaking from any one of several places. It’s what keeps your engine cool, so don’t disregard it.

Complete Auto Service: Fast Car Repair in Ann Arbor

What an odd combination of smells! You can’t expect to identify all of the reasons your car has an odor; you’re the driver, not the mechanic. Instead, be aware that your car is sending you a message. It’s not your job to diagnose and repair. Your job is to pay attention. 

Sometimes you need a professional who can quickly find and fix your car problem. At Complete Auto Repair of Ann Arbor, that’s what we do. 

fast car repair Ann Arbor

Photo by The Blowup on Unsplash 

Bring your vehicle to the experts. From the moment you walk through our door, you are our priority. We don’t make you wait. Why? Because you need it now. 

At Complete Auto Repair, you are our priority.