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Burning Smell from a new car

I just purchased a 2009 Hyundai Elantra. After driving it off the lot and getting it home, I noticed that there was a strong burning smell coming from under the hood. The car has 23 miles on it. Nothing appeared to be charred or damaged under the hood, but I’m worried. Is this smell something that is common on new cars or should I bring it in for service?

A brand new car will frequently emit a “burnt” smell as the paint on the engine block heats up fully and as the exhaust manifold gets really hot for the first time. This smell should be gone within a day or so.

If the odor does not go away rapidly, the solution is spelled w-a-r-r-a-n-t-y–in this case the 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. Just be sure to maintain the car in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule that is in your glove compartment, because failure to maintain it according to the book can void your warranty.

It’s not a problem to wait a couple of days to see if the odor goes away. But you do need to alert the dealer promptly if there is a problem. It may be a safety issue for you, too. Just make sure you know what you did before the odor started so that you can do it again before you drive to the dealer. If it was a half-hour drive in a certain type of traffic, make sure you do it again for the dealer.