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Strange smell from the tire area

2001 Infiniti I30 105,000 miles

Every once in a while, my car will feel like it’s dragging and when I stop, I can smell this awful smell. The first few times it happened, there was a lot of heat coming from the rear passenger tire area. We took it to our local shop and they could not find anything wrong. It didn’t happen for a while but started back up recently. Now, I feel heat from the driver’s rear side tire.

Again, the car shop doesn’t find anything (they even drove it around one day to see if they could simulate my routine.) It seems to us that something isn’t releasing on the brakes and they are scraping on something, but it doesn’t happen all the time. They don’t squeal either.

We recently had the rear axle assembly housing replaced and brakes and struts done about 1.5 years ago.

Please help!

You need a new shop. I don’t know where you are taking it now, but there is no need to bring it to a dealer (even when new). Dealers are no better (or no worse) than other shops, but they will almost always charge more. Maybe the extra cost goes for better coffee in the waiting area.

Try to find a local independent mechanic and have them check it out. It should not be difficult to find the problem. Ask your friends, family, neighbors or co-workers for the name of a good local independent shop. Stay away from those chains like the quick oil change places or muffler shops etc.

I suspect the brakes are sticking and overheating. Does it do it on just cold days or does it do it on warm (above freezing) days as well?

It is a local shop. No way would the husband take it to the dealer.

I haven’t noticed a pattern on whether it happens when it is cold or warm (live in the Atlanta area.)

If the brakes were sticking, wouldn’t it make a squeal or something? I often feel the dragging while on a flat road going appx 45 mph. Almost like it’s not in gear, but it’s an automatic.

I agree with Mr. Meehan that this is almost definitely a case of one or both of the rear brakes “sticking”. You need a new mechanic who will be more aggressive in finding the source of this fairly obvious problem in the rear brakes.

Yes, sounds like a classic stuck caliper or parking brake problem.

Except for the fact that it doesn’t happen all the time.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the ABS controller is intermittently modulating that brake.

Why? Well, when you figure that out, you have solved the problem. All kinds of things can make the ABS system go haywire. I would want to see the wheel sensor signals on a scope. It might think this wheel is spinning.