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Bad mystery smell. Brakes?

After driving home the last 2 days I have noticed a bad smell in my yard. There is no obvious culprit from the yard itself and the common denominator is the smell arose after I pulled into the driveway with my Toyota Rav 4. The smell is similar to the burning rubber smell you would experience if you accidentally leave the emergency brake engaged while driving. Although the emergency brake was not on, could this smell be a sign I have a larger brake problem? The brakes are not new. The most recent work I have had done was oil change, new tires, and addressed an issue with wheel bearings. I can check with my mechanic tomorrow but wanted some other thoughts. I have not noticed a smell while driving.

After driving, place you hand near each wheel to see if any of them are noticeably warmer than the others. Then gingerly touch a lug nut on each wheel, again looking for one hotter than the others.


Make sure there’s not something like a plastic bag melted somewhere on the exhaust system.


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My partner looked under my car briefly today to see if there was an obvious culprit but didn’t see anything out of place. To be frank his skill level is pretty low but I would hope he would notice a plastic bag.

The plastic bag won’t be hanging from the pipe, it will appear to be shrink wrapped to the exhaust pipe from the heat.


Just looked myself. Nothing but a undercarriage in need of a wash :confused:

If the smell started just after the oil change some oil was probably spilled. A little oil on a hot surface makes a lot of stink.

All the work was completed just shy of a month ago on October 17

Drove 8 miles to work today. (Can’t get the car looked at until tomorrow). The wheels were cool to the touch as well as the rear tire lugnuts. The front wheels were warm to the touch.