Use your nose to find potential auto issues

Normally, drivers let regular tune ups or hiccups in performance alert them as to problems going on with a vehicle. However, these are not the only resources car owners have when it comes to completing vehicle maintenance. In fact, one of the most effective tools may be right in front of them - the nose. Odd smells can let you know when things with an automobile are not functioning as they are meant to, and discerning the problem based on a particular scent may save you time, money and aggravation in the long run.

"Unusual smells can be a sign of serious, and potentially costly, trouble for your vehicle. By acting quickly and making necessary repairs, you'll be able to breathe easy knowing there is no harmful damage to your car," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "... When you smell any peculiar odor, you should not ignore it. Instead, bring your vehicle to a professional service technician that you trust to get an informed opinion on the nature of the odor."

Here are a few of the odors that may signal an issue with your off-road vehicle:

Gasoline
Smelling gasoline may be common for many, but it could be a sign of issues under the hood. If you start getting whiffs of fuel at odd moments - as in when you're not filling up the tank - you should examine the gas tank and fuel injector line. Any leaks in these areas could be both costly and dangerous, and it is essential to check it out before you end up in harm's way. Gas leaks are a fire hazard so be sure to find a safe space to place the vehicle, and keep open flames or sparks away from the automobile. 

Rotten eggs
The stench of rotten eggs is not limited to a kitchen. Drivers who sniff this odor may want to check in on their engine. It is possible that the catalytic converter is not working properly, which in turn means the motor is not functioning as it should. Another possibility is that there is a separate issue with the engine that in turn caused the converter to malfunction, resulting in a complete motor failure. None of these scenarios are things drivers want to deal with, so as soon as they begin smelling rotten eggs, they should get the engine checked.  

Burning rubber
Some may view burning rubber as a sign of gaining speed on pavement, but those who are driving on or off roads should be on high alert if they get a whiff of this odor. It could indicate that drive belts or hoses located under the hood have become dislodged and are not operating as they should. If friction occurs where it's not supposed to due to a movement of these belts, there may be unwanted heat, so be sure to allow time for the systems to cool down and practice safety when examining them. 

Syrup
A syrup-like odor may be a sign of a leak somewhere in the engine. This sweet stench could mean that coolant is seeping out from a place it shouldn't be, which is a threat to your personal safety and the life of your engine. If the cooling system is not working properly, your car is at risk of overheating - but don't get too eager when attempting to take a look at the happenings under the hood. Opening a radiator cap when it's hot could release steam and intense heat in a dangerous fashion. It's best to let all systems cool and then assess the situation.