Exhaust Smells Like Burning Oil ❤️ Everything You Need To Know (2023)

If your exhaust smells like burning oil, you must not ignore the problem, and you must have your vehicle inspected and repaired by a professional mechanic immediately. Ignoring such a problem could result in catastrophic problems that require a lot of money.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

Before diving into the different reasons for your exhaust smells like burning oil, it's important to understand the exhaust system's different roles in a vehicle. You will be able to identify the different reasons for the burning smell yourself. This article helps you understand your exhaust system role and the different causes of the exhaust smell like burning oil.

What is the exhaust system, and what is it doing?

The exhaust system is one of the very important systems in your vehicle, and without it, your vehicle could harm the environment.

The exhaust system is responsible for taking the byproducts and getting bad gas from the engine cylinders and converting them into more useful and less polluting gases.

Exhaust Smells Like Burning Oil ❤️ Everything You Need To Know (2)

If you have any problem with the exhaust system, you will start noticing weird smoke coming out of the tailpipe or having some burning smells in the vehicle.

The biggest animal most important thing about a faulty exhaust system is that your vehicle will not pass the emission test without a perfectly running exhaust system.

Therefore, if you wanted to get your vehicle passed the emission test and drive it, you must have a perfectly running exhaust system.

(Video) What Your Exhaust Smoke Is Trying To Tell You

What does it mean when the exhaust smells like burning oil?

As you notice before, the exhaust system must be running perfectly for you to drive the vehicle and not cause harm to the environment or failed the emission test.

One of the biggest issues with exhaust systems happens if you start smelling burning oil smells. There are very common reasons for the cause of this burning smell and where is it come in front, including:

  • A problem with the catalytic converter

The catalytic converter is the primary component in the exhaust system that converts the bad gases into less harmful gases to the environment.

If the catalytic converter does not do its job, it is usually the main cause for failing the emission test.

The catalytic converter is not designed to last forever, and there should be a point in time where you must replace the catalytic converter to prevent dealing with different problems. The catalytic converter can get clogged partially or completely, causing some burning smell in your exhaust system.

This burning smell is usually associated with a rotten egg smell coming from the component, including sulfur.

If you've confirmed that the oil burning smell that is coming from your exhaust system is related to the catalytic converter, you must give the catalytic converter replaced as soon as possible.

Failing to replace the catalytic converter could result in significant problems with the exhaust system that usually requires a lot of time and money.

  • Issues with burnt oil

Your vehicle uses oil for many reasons, including lubricating the engine and making sure that there is no friction between moving parts. If a lot of friction happens between moving parts, this could generate a lot of heat that could destroy the engine.

This oil must flow through specific routes and tubes. Any leak of the engine's oil to other hot components around the engine's block could result in burning oil smells.

(Video) How to Fix a Car Engine that Burns Oil for 10 Bucks

The most common cause of oil leaks around the engine would be coming from crack tubes or a blown head gasket. He had a gasket responsible for sealing the cylinders and ensuring no hot oil leaving the cylinder to the other components.

Unfortunately, dealing with a blown head gasket is one of the very complicated problems you would ever want to deal with.

To resolve the problem that is happening to a blown head gasket, you must replace the head gasket entirely. Unfortunately, replacing the head gasket is very expensive. Many people end up scrubbing the vehicles instead of replacing the head gasket if repair costs get higher than the vehicle's value.

  • Leaks in the exhaust system itself

The last possible problem for your exhaust smells like burning oil is some disconnection in the exhaust system itself.

The exhaust system is connected directly to the engine and receives the bad gases and the other byproducts from the engine through these connections. Over a time of use, it's very common for these connections to get damaged or we're out, causing some leaks of oil or hot gases outside the required routes.

If that's the case, you will start smelling some burning oil as the hot gases or the hot oils burn outside of the required routes.

Automotive experts describe this problem as a problem that you could hear and see simultaneously because you will not only smell the oil burning but also start seeing some weird smokes and other dripping of liquids around the exhaust system.

Is it worth repairing exhaust that smells like burning oil?

Very important question!

It's important before you attempt to do any car repairs to sit back and evaluate the situation. Sometimes, repair costs could be very high, and it might not be worth repairing the vehicle.

In case of exhaust system smells like burning oil, deciding whether it's worth repairing the vehicle or not depends heavily on the cause of the problem.

(Video) If You See This, Your Engine is Burning Oil

For example, if the problem is due to small cracks in a couple of pipes around the exhaust system, your professional mechanic could replace them or repair the damaged ones.

On the other hand, if the problem is coming from a blown head gasket that resulted in an oil leak around the engine, it might not be worth repairing the vehicle until you are sure that repair costs are not getting as high as the value of the vehicle.

As recommendations for our readers, we advised them to ask themselves the following questions before attempting any car repairs:

  • Does your car have high mileage, and there are expected damages soon?
  • Our repair costs are getting close to the value of the vehicle.
  • Are there any other damages in the car that also requires high repair costs?

If you decided to answer any of the previously mentioned questions with a yes, it might not be worth repairing your car.

Well, what's my other option?

If you decided that it's not worth repairing your car because of exhaust smells like burning oil, you are at the right location.

Did you know that you can sell your car to us despite its type or condition? Yes! Our company buys any vehicle, whether it's broken, rusted, or even completely damaged!

We don't only buy damaged cars, but we also buy cars in good condition, and we are willing to pay up to $15,000 for the right vehicle.

Did you know that our company provides free tooling for all customers despite their living location around the United States?

Yes, we will come to your house or office and remove your vehicle within one to three days from your phone call.

To get started with our team, you can give us a call and describe your vehicle type and condition. Once you provide this information, our team will provide you with an instant offer within 30 seconds of submitting the information. After receiving our offer, it's up to you to accept it or rejected it.

(Video) You Never Want to See This Color Exhaust on Your Car

If you decided to move forward with our process and the offer seems reasonable to you, we will schedule a pickup location and time that works best.

At the pickup time, we will inspect your vehicle quickly to confirm that the vehicle matches the information we have in our system.

After the inspection, we will hand you the cash payment right on the spot!


In general, if you started smelling something weird coming out of your vehicle, whether it's related to the exhaust system or not, you must not drive the vehicle, and you must consult a professional mechanic immediately.

If the burning smell comes from your exhaust system, the problems usually related to either a problem with the catalytic converter, an oil leak from the engine, and any other leaks from the exhaust system itself.

Getting this problem resolved depends heavily on the source of the problem, and while some of the causes might be easily fixed, all other causes can be very expensive. Several drivers ended up scrapping their vehicles because they could not afford the appearance costs as it got close to the vehicle's value.

Luckily, our company buys vehicles from all makes, models, and years whether they have a problem with the exhaust system or not.

Therefore, we advise you to contact our team and describe the type your car condition of your ca receive your instant offer.

Don't waste your time and effort trying to repair this vehicle if repair costs are very high and are getting closer to the vehicle's price. Get in touch with our team today!


Why does my exhaust smell like burnt oil? ›

If there's a noticeable thick burning oil smell coming from your car, it may mean that your oil is leaking. Oil can drip out onto the hot engine parts, creating this acrid smell. If your oil is leaking, it could also mean that your vehicle is overheating.

Why does my car smell like burning oil but no leak? ›

The oil is probably leaking down onto the hot exhaust system and burning off — leaving an odor but no drops. As long as the oil level doesn't drop below a safe level, this leak isn't harmful. But if you're going to keep the car, I'd recommend having the gasket replaced.

Why does my car smell like burning from exhaust? ›

A burning smell in your car could be caused by several things, including a burned-out electrical fuse, an overheating A/C compressor, or worn out brake pads that need to be replaced.

What does exhaust smell like with a blown head gasket? ›

Sweet-Smelling Exhaust

Exhaust that smells sweet could mean that your vehicle has a leaky or damaged head gasket. This could cause coolant to be burned up inside your vehicle's combustion chamber, releasing the sweet smell of antifreeze with your exhaust.

Can oil on exhaust catch fire? ›

Straight to the point, the answer is yes. Even though motor oil isn't flammable, it is combustible. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it isn't a flammable liquid. To be considered one, it has to ignite at 200° Fahrenheit; oil ignites at 300°-400° Fahrenheit.

Can exhaust leak smell like oil? ›

Over time, engines can develop small oil leaks that would otherwise go undetected. However, if the oil leak forms somewhere high in the engine, and the oil drips down onto a hot component like the exhaust pipe and burn there, you'll detect an unpleasant smouldering smell in the cabin.

How much does it cost to replace an oil pan gasket? ›

The average cost of replacing an oil pan gasket is roughly between $400 and $500, according to RepairPal. The cost of labor is projected to be a majority of the cost between $300 and $400, with parts costing about $120. This range excludes taxes and fees, as well as your individual car and geographic region.

How do you know if a car is burning oil or leaking? ›

How to Tell if Your Car is Burning Oil
  1. Monitor the Car's Oil Level. Perhaps the best way to tell if your car is burning oil is to observe the vehicle's oil level. ...
  2. Note if There Is a Burning Smell. Another telltale sign is the smell that burning oil emits. ...
  3. Look for Bluish Smoke Coming From the Tailpipe. ...
  4. WHAT TO DO.
2 Jun 2021

What does a burning catalytic converter smell like? ›

The combustion of your car's engine can produce sulfur dioxide, which drivers report as a horrible, strong rotten egg smell. When your catalytic converter is failing or stolen, it cannot filter these emissions—allowing the pungent sulfur dioxide smell to carry through your exhaust.

What does an overheating engine smell like? ›

You smell funny odors like burning rubber, scorched oil or boiling water. At one time, expecting your car to overheat was a common event. No one forgot extra water on a Sunday drive, as pouring it over the radiator helped the engine cool.

Can I drive my car if it smells like burning rubber? ›

If you notice a burning rubber smell from cars, it is often a sign that you have overheated the brakes or tires. Overheating usually occurs when your car's clutch is slipping or not working properly. If you experience this smell and were using your clutch at the time, let the car cool down, and try again.

How do I know if I blew my Headgasket? ›

Bad head gasket symptoms
  1. White smoke coming from the tailpipe.
  3. unexplained coolant loss with no leaks.
  4. Milky white coloration in the oil.
  5. Engine overheating.

What are the first signs of a blown head gasket? ›

5 Signs Your Head Gasket Is Blown: Capitol Subaru Auto Care...
  1. Engine Overheating.
  2. White Smoke From Tailpipe. ...
  3. Low Coolant Level. ...
  4. Rough Idle/Engine Knock. ...
  5. Contaminated Engine Oil. We know that oil and water don't mix, but if coolant gets into the oil in your engine, the resulting mixture loses its lubricating qualities. ...
23 Apr 2020

Can you tell if he blew a head gasket? ›

There is an easy way to find out if your engine's head gasket has blown. Simply check under the oil filler cap. If the gasket is not damaged, the inside of the oil cap will be mostly dry. If you discover a milky brownish-yellow substance that is similar to the thickness of a milkshake, you probably have a gasket leak.

How do I get rid of oil in my exhaust? ›

Oil takes a long time to burn off, specially if it gets mixed with water at all (think moisture). As long as its just the oil in the exhaust burning, your best bet is to take it up the motorway 'vigorously' and heat up the exhaust enough to burn it off.

What would cause oil to come out my exhaust? ›

Ruptured Head Gaskets

A blown gasket lets one or more fluids to get past the seals and mixed into the exhaust stream. So if you find oil coming out of exhaust, this could be a place to take a look. The symptoms are the overheated engine, reduced engine performance, and excessive fuel burning.

What does oil in the exhaust pipe mean? ›

Common Causes of Oil Coming Out of an Exhaust. #1 – Clogged PCV Valve. #2 – Blown Head Gasket. #3 – Worn Valve Guides. #4 – Broken Piston Rings.

Is an exhaust leak expensive to fix? ›

Usually, this type of repair will run between two and three hours. Most independent shops charge around $80 to $90 an hour, so it should cost between $160 and $270 in labor. At a dealership, with a labor rate of approximately $110 an hour, you can expect a labor bill of between $220 and $330.

What is considered a major oil leak? ›

The most critical engine oil leaks are those that starve your engine of oil. If you see a large puddle on the ground, don't try starting your engine. You may not have enough oil left to lubricate your engine and can cause permanent damage that can only be repaired by an engine rebuild or replacement.

How do I know if I have an oil pan or gasket leak? ›

Five symptoms of an oil leak
  1. Dark puddles under your car. When you back out from your driveway or parking space, check to see if there are dark brown or yellow puddles where your car was sitting. ...
  2. Smoke from the engine. ...
  3. The dashboard oil light. ...
  4. Engine overheating.
26 Jan 2017

How can I tell if my oil pan gasket is leaking? ›

Black Smoke – The most common sign that the oil pan gasket has failed is black smoke coming from under the hood. The smoke produced is a result of oil dripping onto the exhaust manifold.

Can you fix an engine that burns oil? ›

It isn't just old cars that burn oil. Lack of maintenance at any age can be the cause of burning oil. The minimum repair will be changing piston seal rings, also known as oil control rings, but it could even require a complete engine replacement.

How much does it cost to fix an engine that burns oil? ›

A car that is burning oil can come from a variety of causes. The fix to your leak can be as simply as replacing an oil filter or as complex as replacing an entire blown head gasket. On average, repair costs for a vehicle burning oil will be about $600. This average is high because of how expensive some oil repairs are.

Can you stop an engine from burning oil? ›

Is your car burning oil? If your car is consuming oil at a fast rate or producing white smoke, it may be time to add an oil additive to stop the leak. These oil additives will help to seal your car's engine and reduce the amount of oil that leaks through the gaskets.

Will burning oil ruin a catalytic converter? ›

Oil contamination

The catalytic converter can also be damaged by evaporated engine oil. Oil vapors usually stay inside the engine. But, excessive amounts of vapors get carried into the combustion chamber where they mix with the fuel. Since the oil vapors are heavier than the fuel, they fail to burn completely.

Can you drive with a melted catalytic converter? ›

A Catalytic Converter Can Be Driven Indefinitely

In the case that the catalytic converter is totally plugged, it will prevent you from running your vehicle. In some situations, it may come to be completely fused directly or overtime, and it will need to be replaced immediately.

How do I know if my engine is damaged from overheating? ›

If your engine has experienced damage from overheating, you may notice symptoms like burning scents, fluid leaks, or (in a worst-case scenario) a cracked engine block. If you suspect your engine may be damaged due to overheating, it's best to have it assessed by a mechanic.

Why is my car running hot but not overheating? ›

There are a few reasons why your car may be hot but not overheating. Most of these reasons are related to your cooling system. It may be that your radiator is clogged or damaged, that your coolant is low, that your water pump is damaged, that your thermostat is damaged, or that your engine is simply overworked.

Does serpentine belt smell like burning rubber? ›

If the belts are too tightly fastened, they can overheat which will cause the rubber in them to wear. In either of these cases, burning rubber indicates that the belts are not adjusted properly.

What does carbon monoxide smell like? ›

Carbon monoxide gas is colourless and does not smell, so you cannot tell if it is around you. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: headache. dizziness.

What does burning transmission fluid smell like? ›

If your transmission fluid is burnt, it will smell more like burnt toast. Of course, if your transmission fluid smells burnt, you should not only get a transmission flush but also have your cooling system checked since your transmission is likely overheating.

How do you tell if oil is leaking in the exhaust? ›

The colors of the tailpipe smoke are good signs to detect the type of oil coming out of exhaust problem. Black smoke refers to unburnt fuel, which means that the engine fails to burn one or two combustion catalyst. Gray or bluish smoke means the leaking of engine oil into the internal combustion chamber.

Why does my car smell like burning oil when I accelerate? ›

You might be running out of engine oil or your engine could be overheating. If neither is the case, look for oil leaking onto the engine block or exhaust manifold. Next, check your transmission fluid. If it's low, it could be burning in the transmission because the gears aren't properly lubricated and are overheating.

Why does my car smell like burning oil and smoking? ›

If Your Car Smells Like Acrid Smoke Or Burning Oil

Also, a low oil level could damage the engine. If you notice the smell not long after an oil change, the leak might be caused by a loose drain plug or filter that wasn't properly attached—or an oil cap that wasn't screwed on tightly enough.

What happens if oil leaks onto exhaust manifold? ›

The exhaust manifold is much hotter. So the oil has to leak to those places to catch fire. It burns with a lot of white smoke and is easily distinguishable.

What does burnt transmission oil smell like? ›

Healthy transmission fluid should be relatively odorless if not slightly sweet. If your transmission fluid is burnt, it will smell more like burnt toast.

Can you drive a car with burning smell? ›

Can You Drive Your Car If It Smells Like It's Burning? While you can technically drive your car with a burning smell, you absolutely should not! That's because every potential cause of a burning smell in your vehicle is serious, and it can quickly turn into a dangerous situation.

Is it bad to drive a car that burns oil? ›

Your car can run for a while if it's burning oil, as long as you keep adding engine oil when it gets low. There are, however, issues that will come up. The engine will run rough, because oil doesn't burn properly in the cylinders. Spark plugs will become fouled by oil, turning on the Check Engine light.

Can oil Change cause burning smell? ›

A: One possible explanation may be that during the oil change, oil was spilled on the exhaust manifold or engine block. Now the oil is burning off when the engine gets hot and is releasing that smell. Inspect the area around the oil fill cap for any oil that may have spilled when the technician added oil to the engine.


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