Why Does My Car Heater Smell Like Something Is Burning?

You’re driving along and it’s getting cold inside your car’s cabin. You flip on the heater and are met with a burning smell. You panic, naturally, and flip the heater off. The smell dissipates. You flip the heater again and the same thing happens. Why is your car heater producing a burning smell? Doc Motor Works has the answer.

Dirty Vents

If you pull your owner’s manual out of your glove compartment and flip to the maintenance section, you’ll see your car’s manufacturer recommends regular comfort system inspection and service. This is because your car’s vents can get dirty just as your home’s vents get dirty. In fact, the entire system gets dirty and can produce a burning smell as it burns away the debris, dirt, and dust. Things can get stuck in your ventilation system, including leaves and pine needles. When your heater begins to blow hot air over this stuff, it will create a burning smell.

Engine Debris

It might be that something is stuck in your engine and that is causing the burning smell. Leave and pine needles can get caught in the engine, too, as can road debris that is pulled through your front grille. Unbelievably, people have found all sorts of things in their engines, including plastic bags and, unfortunately, animals. We hope you never find the latter in your engine. If you notice a burning smell once you turn on your heater. Pull over to safety, turn on your hazard lights, and pop the hood to take a look. You may have picked up a shopping bag loose on the road.

Heater Core

Finally, if your heater core is figuratively running out of steam, it can cause a burning smell. Other signs your heater core is failing include window fog and an overheating car. Part of a regular comfort system check includes servicing the heater core, so make certain you stick to your vehicle’s service schedule. Should the heater core go, the average cost to replace it is $600 to $900. Yikes! That makes the cost of the comfort system maintenance well worth it. Bring your car into our shop in the fall for a heater system inspection before it gets too cold outside.

Doc Motor Works is located in Plainfield, IL, and you can set up an appointment by calling us at 815-577-3893. We’d be happy to investigate the burning smell coming from your heater.

Call Doc Motor Works at 815-577-3893 for an appointment today!