What's That Smell? Burning Oil

The acrid smell of burning oil is easily noticed, but its origin and implications may not be so apparent:
  • Typically, the smell comes from either the exhaust pipe or oil leaking onto hot components, such as the exhaust system.
  • If you suspect the smell is coming from the tailpipe, you can confirm it by watching the rearview mirror or having someone stand behind your car when you start it cold. The burning smell is often accompanied by a puff or lingering expulsion of blue-tinted smoke, which could suggest minor to severe engine wear.
  • If the smell is coming from under the hood, have your technician do a thorough inspection for oil leaks.