Burning smell from left rear wheel (2008 Mazda3)

Hi all,

a few months ago I bought a used 2008 Mazda3s sedan, and ever since I get an intermittent burning rubber smell from my rear left wheel. I recently got new tires, brake pads, and had the rotors turned, with no change.

The smell does not always happen, it will be there maybe one out of 3 or 4 times, and it is more likely to happen after long drives (e.g., one hour highway driving).

The wheel well also feels very hot. The obvious answer would be that the brake caliper is sticking, causing friction, heat, and the burning smell. However, if I touch the rotor it feels the same lukewarm temperature as the other three.

One additional thought is that this is caused by the exhaust, which is right next to this wheel well. I have noticed that the area of the floor of the trunk right above the exhaust gets very hot, which I had not seen in any other car I owned. Could it be that the exhaust is causing the rubber of the tire (or something else) to overheat and smell bad? Visually, it does not look like the tire has a different wear or different appearance, compared to any other one.

This may or may not be related: my handbrake seems to be useless If I leave it on I can easily drive with little to no noticeable slowdown… I guess the previous owner did not read the part of the manual where it says you have to release the handbrake before you drive.

Has anyone else noticed anything similar on this car? How worried should I be?


Perhaps yuor paring brake shoes are dragging. Or you could have a bed bearing. My guess is that you actually do have a sticking caliper.

If you brought your car in and asked th eshop to diagnose and repair the problem rather than telling them what work to do, you’d likely get the problem fixed and save a lot of money in needless work. You should get it fixed, because that heat can damage other things.