What’s the Worst Car Smell?

Burnt clutch, anyone?

byChris Tsui| PUBLISHED Jan 17, 2022 3:00 PM
What’s the Worst Car Smell?

Cars consist of an extremely complex mix of materials. The plastic that adorns interiors, the compounds that make up brake pads, the weirdly-colored chemicals and fluids that keep it all running smoothly, etc. They all have a distinct smell, and as Jeep continues to investigate where in its Detroit assembly plant that "objectionable" odor is coming from, we started wondering: What's the worst car-related smell?

As anybody who's driven on track will attest, brake dust doesn't exactly smell like flowers and honey. Neither does burning clutch, a particularly recognizable and foul odor that's perhaps compounded by the shame of somebody who thought they had the whole stick shift thing figured out. 

If you know, you know., Getty Images

For those who like to wrench, I've heard that differential fluid is absolutely nasty to be around, although I personally have never had the displeasure. Or maybe you're one of those outliers who absolutely cannot stand the new car smell that emanates from a particular manufacturer's plastics. Audi, in fact, has an entire "Nose Team" dedicated to keeping its vehicles smelling nice and luxurious, something Hyundai definitely could've used when building the Palisade

As for the distinctive smell of tires, I'm mixed. I don't think the rubber tire aroma is, objectively speaking, overtly good or bad. On the one hand, burnt tires remind me of the good times I've had at the track while the smell of static, greasy, new tires reminds me of being inside of a tire shop, a situation that usually involves the expenditure of a not-insignificant sum of money. Not that happy of a memory. 

One thing I think we can all agree on though is that gasoline smells great

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