"Hot" smell under hood

Hello all. I have a 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T with the 5.7L V8. It’s got about 165K miles, automatic transmission. All of the maintenance is up to date.

Recently I’ve noticed a strange smell when when the car is parked, after it’s been running for a while. The best description I have is a “hot” smell, more of an “electrical” smell than anything else. It doesn’t smell like coolant or oil or exhaust, but more like something is hot that shouldn’t be. I’ve looked under the hood and can’t find anything apparently wrong.

Just this morning, I noticed that I could smell the odor inside the car when the car was stopped, like in traffic or at a stoplight. When I start moving again, the odor either dissipates or goes away.

There are no check engine lights or any other performance issues. I thought about a brake issue, but I’ve not noticed any changes to braking, and my fuel economy hasn’t changed lately.

The engine does burn a little oil, but that’s been going on for a while now with no smell. Hopefully the oil hasn’t started leaking/burning somewhere; I can check for that.

Below is the major maintenance from the past year or so:

New 12V battery (Nov 2020)

New radiator (spring of 2021)

New oil pressure sensor/sending unit (Nov 2021)

Regular oil changes and tire rotations.

Any thoughts?

Look on the exhaust to see if there’s a plastic bag stuck to it.



If not the bag on the exhaust, get a flashlight and look around your engine for leaks.

Touch each of your wheels to make sure one is not hotter than the others. A dragging brake can smell a bit like an electical hot spot.

Double check a leak from the newly replaced oil pressure sending unit isn’t dripping onto something hot.

Thanks everyone.

There’s no bag on the exhaust, or anything other than dirt and maybe rust.

I couldn’t find any leaks on or around the engine. Admittedly it is kind of tough to see around the cylinder heads/valve covers. However, I could see the top sides of the exhaust manifolds, and they were basically clean. If oil was dripping on there and burning, I’d guess there would be some residue.

I touched all 4 brake rotors right after getting home from work. The front 2 rotors were hot to the touch…but I’d expect that right after driving. I’d say both front rotors were equally hot. The rear 2 were warm, but OK to touch.

And I couldn’t see any oil whatsoever around the new oil pressure sensor unit.