Burning Plastic Smell In Your Car? [Causes & Fixes]

Burning Plastic Smell In Your Car? [Causes & Fixes]

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Metals, alloys, plastics, fibres, and many other elements make up a car or vehicle complete and operational. It is necessary to use specific parts in the respective area to reduce the total weight of the vehicle. The weight factor also decides the performance of the car. Also, even some plastic parts are near the engine and other heat-generating components. These plastics could sometime melt because of excessive heat from the elements. The person can notice a burning plastic smell from the car, indicating that the plastic is melting. So it is necessary to replace the part. A vehicle also causes burning smells respective to the components that are burning. If you notice any unusual smells then better inspect your vehicle and solve it immediately.

What Causes The Burning Plastic Smell?

Every plastic component associated with the heating devices in the car has a risk of melting and burning. It can cause a burning plastic smell in the car, and the person should resolve it sooner before it gets worse. Generally, the two significant factors can cause a burning smell.

1. Burning Smell from Heater

If you notice a burning smell, then first check your heater and see for issues because it is an external heat-generating source. Dust and dirt could accumulate the heater if it not used for a long time. It could also be plastic sometimes. The heater could melt these plastics, causing a burning smell. Also, while driving in the roads, plastic bags or covers could hold on to some parts which can be a trouble.

Sometimes a leaking antifreeze in the broken heater will also cause the smell. If these are not the cases, then it could be the heater motor. The bad condition of the motor will burn the motor coil. It could also damage other systems associated with them and make it worse. Resolve these problems soon so that it doesn’t spoil the entire system. If the smell is more robust, then hire a mechanic and check the heater and other parts for the cause of the problem.

2. Electrical Short

The sensors and other parts are connected with many wires respectively to the engine control unit (ECU) and the fuses in the fuse box. Any irregular signals and the broken fuse will interrupt the function and causes temporary electrical problems. A plastic tube encloses the wires for safety. The shorts and sparks caused by a malfunctioning wire can melt the pipes, which will produce a burning smell.

If you notice such smell, then inspect the wires and the connection for damages. Cover up the damages with new tubes or tapes to arrest the exposure. If it is worst, then change the cables and makes the connections correctly. Any wrong or improper connection could also make electrical shorts again. Sometimes, changing the damaged fuses can solve the problem.

3. Plastic Blockage

The exposed bottom of the car will allow the plastics from the roads to get clogged in the system. If any plastic blocks the system, it might melt due to friction heat and cause burning smell in the vehicle. It is not only to the bottom of the car but in some cases; the plastic also gets blocked in the engine and burns due to heat.

Other Burning Smells

A vehicle will cause many burning smells because of varies issues in the car. Sometimes, the excessive or low oil in the engine will burn it and produce the odours. Any degraded rubber in the system will have an odour when stressed under friction. Also, weak brake pads will make a burning smell because of the variance in the wheel while braking.

How To Fix It?

Inspect the necessary parts and find the causes of the problem. It will make the repair process easy and quick. Usually, the first factor that causes this issue is the heater. If you haven’t used the heater for some time, it performs unusually after turning it on later. The motor coil could heat up immediately and melts the plastic around it. Replacing the motor in the system is the feasible solution for this.

The heat generated in the engine has to be less, and the coolant will perform this task. If there is any leakage in the coolant system, it fails to control the heat and damages the system associated with it. Check the coolant hoses and reservoir and fix the leaks to avoid the burning of plastics.  Also, refill the coolant whenever required to maintain a stable performance.

Check for plastic blockages in the system. Inspect the open and exposed regions of your vehicle and see if any plastics is blocking the system. Remove the wastes and try to cover the area of exposure with the suitable measures to avoid it from happening again.

The life of plastic varies based on its usage and purpose. It starts to degrade after some time. Any old plastics under heat will melt and produce a burning smell. So, it is better to avoid direct exposure to heat and flame. Replacing the part is very easy because these are plastics, and the cost of repair is also minimal. So, do not hesitate to change the parts if required.

Conclusion

Most of the internal parts are plastics and fibre made. The chance of interior burning smell is significantly less, and the standard plastic burning smell is external, and it is hazardous. The plastic applications in a vehicle is a design of attraction. Even in this case, cars will produce a burning smell because of electrical problems. Electrical applications have a risk of failure, and it is unexpected. So if the vehicle indicated any symptom of electrical failure, then do not ignore it. If you notice any burning plastic smell, then check the causes and solve it now.

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Vishnu K

Mechanical Engineer cum creative writer at your service.

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