Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Car Smells of cilantro

What can be causing my car to smell like cilanto? It is most noticable outside after a trip.

What is cilanto? What does it smell like? It might matter…

Check your engine for any fluid leaks. I could see where oil getting burned off might remind one of cilantro. Valve covers are the first most probable source.

I am having a bit of a hard time remembering the smell of cilantro. I do recall that I don’t like the taste of it, but the smell of it eludes me at the moment.

However, to return to the original question–Is the odor at all “sweet”?
Is it somewhat reminiscent of stale curry?

I asked those two questions because it is possible that you have a coolant leak.
Last year, about a week after I replaced my upper radiator hose, I began to smell stale curry when I stood outside the car after a drive. Further examination revealed evidence of slight coolant seepage near the top hose clamp. It turned out that I needed to “tweak” the hose clamp a bit.

So–you might want to look under the hood for evidence of seepage from radiator hoses and heater hoses.
A small coolant leak from a pinhole in an old hose or from a bad clamp could account for the smell.

MY car smells like cilantro too!! It’s been driving me crazy, but I think the coolant leak is indeed the culprit b/c I do know that my Subaru Outback has a cracked head gasket and we’ve been watching to see if it leaks coolant – so far, no evidence other than the smell (which is VERY cilantro like!).

I had this very same issue a couple years ago with my Impreza, distinct curry smell outside the car every time it was driven. Turns out I had a cracked head gasket, and the smell was coming from burnt coolant. By the way the leak was really not obvious, they had to show it to me from under the car with a spotlight. Got it changed (for a cool 1500$), smell gone.
Not sure what was meant by the original question though, the smell is definitely curry spice, not cilantro - I cook a lot with both fresh cilantro and cilantro seed, and neither smell of much !

Taste buds and olfactory certainly differ, but chopping cilantro, ie mexican or chinese parsley I smell very distinctly, try rubbing some to a pulp between thumb and forefinger and see if you can detect the smell. Coriander is the seed and that is a whole nother ball game.