Burning rubber smell

I have an opinion as to what is wrong with my car, but I’d like to hear what you experts think.

2009 Hyundai Accent, about 24000 miles. Just had it inspected about four weeks ago at the dealer and all checked (visual) as fine, except the rear brakes and tires will need attention soon.

While driving home on the freeway, slow n go, a noticed a very faint burning smell. I thought nothing of it until I got home. By then the odor was so strong it was unavoidable. It smelled just like burnt rubber. I popped the hood and it was very strong. In fact, I opened the window to my apartment upstairs, which is about 30 yards from my parked car, 15 minutes later and could still smell the smell. It sounded ok while driving, but I did notice that when I put the car into park it sounded different, meaning that it did not sound like it normally does when it is in park. It was quieter I guess would be a good way to describe it.

I want to get a better look tomorrow morning in the light but would like to know what the Car Talkers think about this. This is already a stressful time for many other reasons and I’d appreciate any input from the community. Thanks

It sounds like a slipping belt.

I go for the classic plastic bag stuck to the exhaust, how firmly was your “tounge in cheek” with that “expert” remark, you are the one writing in.

Check the condition of your belt(s) under the hood, and with the engine started (carefully, don’t put your face or loose clothing in there) check to make sure that everything the belt drives is turning smoothly with the belt. It sounds like something may be seized up and the belt is slipping and burning on it. Pay special attention to the belt tensioner (the little wheel that doesn’t drive anything, but is spring-loaded and keeps the belt tight), the A/C compressor, and the alternator, as these are common failures.

Also check and make sure no rubber hoses, etc. have slipped and gotten on the engine’s exhaust manifold(s) or other exhaust components.

Better yet, this thing is still under warranty, right? Have the dealer check it for free.

oldschool: no tongue in cheek meant. I’ve come to the Car Talkers with questions or needing advice many times and I usually get good, practical stuff from y’all.

I was thinking it had something to do with a belt. I checked them with the engine off and running. The belts don’t seem to be frayed, at least from what I can tell. One of them, not sure exactly what the name of it is, does seem to have a bit more give to it when I moved it to check the tension (a ha). Otherwise they do seem to be running fine. I did not check the components that they are attached to I do believe that I have pinned down where the smell is coming from. It sounds like what you are describing oblivion. And the belt that has a little more give, the top of the three belts, is connected what I am going to assume is the tensioner. Honestly I couldn’t tell you where my a/c compressor and my alternator are. I did also check all of the hoses that I could feel and see and they all seemed fine and in place.

Would it be safe for me to drive it to the dealer tomorrow morning? It’s about 5 miles away. I am dreading that cuz the service guy gave me crap cuz I only bring it in for the free inspections last time. And he of course tried to sell me on a big service package. And I’m afraid they’re gonna throw that in my face.


Thanks Car Talkers. I took it to the dealer this morning and everything checked out fine. And, of course they were not able to replicate the burning rubber smell. I will keep an eye and my nose on it.

There is another possibility, but I almost hesitate to mention it.

Strange odors–particularly the smell of burning rubber–can be an indication of a brain tumor.
The perception of a burning rubber smell was the first manifestation of George Gershwin’s brain tumor, although nobody realized it at the time. Sadly, he was dead about 2-3 years after smelling “burnt rubber” in Carnegie Hall, despite the fact that nobody else smelled it.

Only in later years did medical science recognize this phenomenon as an indicator of a brain tumor.

I strongly suggest that you have a friend, relative, or neighbor verify that this smell is really present, just in case the problem lies within you, rather than in the car. If your associates also perceive this odor, then the most likely culprits are the aforementioned slipping belt or a plastic bag stuck on the exhaust system.

VDCD, I Forgot All About This One Until My Daughter Was Baking (Burning ?) Some Food (Rubber Food ?) And Then I Realized That You Never Got A Response.

Yikes, In this case I hope you were way off, but if you were right on then I guess the sooner one gets on it the better, eh ?