Burnt tire smell inside car

Its snowing here and my car got stuck so had to rev the engine and twice today i smelt what seemed like burnt tire smell from inside the car. Should i worry?

Yes, stop whatever you are doing to create that smell!

Seriously though, is this a manual transmission? If so, it could be hot clutch you are smelling.
Or it could be spinning tires on the road. That won’t get you un-stuck, that will just ruin tires.

If this is the cause, you may want to consider newer and/or better tires for your driving environment. Post back of you’d like some advice on this issue.

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Could be a drive belt.

Yes its a manual transmission but it wouldnt be the clutch.

My foot wasnt on the clutch so how bad of damage would it be to the tire(s)

I’m not sure what technique you used, but be aware that when you’re spinning the tires to get unstuck, you still need to do it in a controlled fashion. You don’t want to just peg the accelerator and hold it there for a long time. Did you try rocking the car back and forth, which often works better?

What kind of tires do you have now? How much tread is on them? How much snow were you in? As others have mentioned, you might not have appropriate tires if this happened.

Oh yes it could be the clutch! Overloading the driveline could cause the clutch to slip and that smells a bit like burning rubber. And if you were stationary, you slipped the clutch to start that tire spinning, right?

How much damage can it do? If you can smell it, then you just rubbed, say, $10 off the tire. Do that enough and the tire explodes. Keep in mind, because of the differential. if ONE tire is spinning and the other is not, the spinning tire’s speed is double what shows on the speedometer.

See the discussion and @B.L.E 's post here;

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It’s not possible to free yourself once stuck in snow without using the clutch.

However, it’s also true that while the rubbery smell was probably from the clutchplate that does not automatically mean it’s shot. Its life is probably shortened, but if it’s still operating okay just keep on driving. If it squeals a bit, that would be some glaze. It might go away by itself. When the time comes for a new clutch you’ll get to see the glaze if any as well as the condition of the flywheel face. Hopefully it’ll all be fine.

It cant be the clutch i wasnt slipping the clutch i got the car moving like i always do. Basically rev to 1500 while releasing clutch after that i was just adding gas while stuck so it couldnt be the clutch. Now how bad would my tires be now?

So the car stalled? You can’t engage the clutch without some small amount of slip. Engine turning, transmission isn’t, engage clutch, clutch slips. That’s the way it works. If the car isn’t moving, the single tire breaks loose and spins. That can’t be done without a bit of clutch slip either. If the drag from the spinning tire is enough to create a burnt rubber smell, there may be some hot clutch smell, too.

Either way, stop it or get ready to spend money.

Look at 'em and see if the tread is deformed. If not, drive on…

Well i used the clutch obviously. But for less than 3 seconds. My buddy is a mechanic and he said the clutch would be fine it would be just minor damage to the tyres

I don’t think I will ever comprehend why posters ask for advice then reject it. If they already “know” the answer, why are they here?


This OP seems to show up every so often asking clutch questions they should have figured out by now. It could be that some people just are not meant to have manual transmissions.


I don’t know how bad your tires are, but you clutch is sending you warning signs (warning smells?). The technique you describe is not good technique. How do I know? I’ve been driving clutches since the late '60s, and only worn one out… at 295,000 miles after also having taught both of my kids how to drive on it and having given it to my daughter for a daily driver at 275,000 miles.

…and, let us bear in mind that the OP has been posting questions regarding how to drive his manual shift car for over 4 months, and in those 4 months, he could very possibly have taken…a LOT…of life off of the clutch plate.

A few months ago, when I advised the OP to enlist the help of a friend, relative, or co-worker to sit next to him and teach him how to operate a manual shift correctly (rather than trying to learn via cyberspace), some forum members thought that I was being…inappropriate. In light of the latest evidence that the OP is still abusing the clutch–4 months later–I don’t think that my earlier advice was actually inappropriate.



I think that’s a wise suggestion. Hopefully the OP will give it serious consideration.

I used to live near a ski resort in Colorado, so have some experience w/getting unstuck in a snow drift. That can definitely damage stuff on the car if done aggressively. Including the transmission and clutch. A friend of mine one time broke his timing belt extracting his car by spinning his tires from a snow drift, so that’s another possible thing to damage. I expect though for you it is just some of the burning tire smell remains. Other than a visual inspection of the tires and the observable belts, suggest to drive the vehicle gently for a few days and see if the odor goes away.

Back in the early '60s, my brother–who was and is a very skilled manual shift driver–got stuck in a big snowbank in his '59 Ford, after a skidding bus ran him off the road.
After about 20 minutes of trying to free the car from the snowbank, he had fried the clutch.
I have no idea regarding how much wear was already on that car’s clutch plate, but a perfectly-operating clutch was essentially ruined by that one fairly brief episode.