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Burning rubber odor

I came off the freeway after a 10 mile stretch and smelled burning rubber. The smell only lasted a couple of minutes, then went away. I ran some errands then retuned home. When I came off the ramp after another 10 miles on the freeway the smell appeared again, then disappeared as before.

The serpentine belt looks fine. Checked the fluids. Everything seems fine. I did see two very small spots of slippery odorless fluid on the floor of the garage about six inches apart. Not sure what that is???

Any ideas? Should I book an appointment with a mechanic? Is it possible that it’s worn out brake pads? We rarely ever use the freeway so coming off the ramps require more brake power than normal usage.

You can’t tell if the serpentine belt is worn by looking at it.


Burning oil can smell like burning rubber, so you might have a small leak that’s dripping on a hot part, perhaps from a valve cover gasket. Sometimes you can see the smoke if you shine a flashlight around the engine when it’s not too bright outside.

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Thank you for the reply and the information. I am a little puzzled because it only happened twice when I came off the freeway at 70 mph. Other than that it seems okay.

This is good information, thank you.

automatic or manual . . . ?!


My guess is that’s the problem. Whatever it is, it’s dripping onto something hot and creating an odor. Driving on the freeway can cause the engine parts to get a little warmer than just put putting about town, which could explain when you notice it.

Put a piece of clean cardboard on the floor under the car, then you can see exactly where the drip area is. Mark where the front tires are on the cardboard. Give the cardboard to your mechanic and they’ll put your car on the lift to determine what’s leaking.

Turns out it needed a new valve cover gasket. Thank you to everyone for their responses.