Burning Oil Smell Through Vents: 5 Common Causes & Fix

If you are experiencing burning oil smell through vents, you will definitely not be able to ignore this article. The article will give you all the reasons why this unpleasant smell occurs as well as the most effective way to fix the problem. 

Stop the smell as soon as you smell it, it will help you minimize the negative impact on people by NO2 and SO2 gas.

Burning Oil Smell Through Vents

Burning Oil Smell Through Vents: Common Causes

Burning oil smell from engine Going through the vent will make you feel uncomfortable when breathing in. To fix this situation, you need to know where the cause of the problem comes from? Here are 5 possible causes that you will encounter with your car:

Oil leaking into the exhaust system

Fuel oil leaks into the exhaust system can cause you smelling oil while driving. The cause comes from the car engine appearing cracks or missing parts. Then, fuel oil will leak, causing the oil primer to appear.

If you let the oil leak for a long time, it will cause this liquid to burn, creating an unpleasant gas in the cabin. To detect, check the location of the engine compartment or the garage floor for the presence of oil droplets.

Oil leak through valve cover

Oil leak through valve cover

It is one of the most common causes of the smell of burning oil in cars. When the valve cap has a problem, it will cause gasoline fuel to leak, creating small droplets into the exhaust system. At this point, you will definitely notice an unpleasant burning smell from the engine compartment.

When the amount of oil is low, it can cause car jerk when slowing down. However, detecting this leak is quite difficult. The oil can evaporate quickly without leaving any traces.

On the other hand, if the valve cap is loose, the diesel oil will seep in. Over a long period of time, the gasket will corrode, which causes the lubricant to leak out. Burning smell after oil change can appear from here.

PCV . valve leak

PVC valve leak on valve cover is the next cause of Burning Oil Smell Through Vents. When this part is not working, the valve cover will be under great pressure. This will cause gaskets and bolts to malfunction. You will smell an unpleasant burning oil smell. If you inhale SO2 for a long period of time, it is not good for you. So stop the car when you realize a bad smell from heating vents or any location or take the car to the nearest service agent. They will help you troubleshoot PCV valve leaks.

Oil spilled while performing an oil change

Oil spilled while performing an oil change

Negligence during an oil change can cause you to experience Burning Oil Smell Through Vents. Sometimes users will mistakenly think it comes from fuel pump failure. But the actual cause does not come from this problem. You shouldn’t worry too much about oil spilling while performing an oil change. It will do no harm to you or the car.

Rexhaust gas leak

When an exhaust leak occurs, it will cause your car to smell like burning oil. The burning smell will pass through the AC vent from the engine compartment to the inside of the driver’s compartment. Moreover, the burning smell will appear with higher concentration when the crack in the exhaust pipe is larger.

How To Deodorize Burning Oil In Car?

Before deodorizing the burning oil in your car, you need to determine the cause of this unpleasant burning smell.

Find cause

Finding the cause is not easy. With drops of oil on the floor, you can easily conclude the location of the problem. But if the smell is burning from the inside, your failure to check the engine and exhaust system will not be able to detect cracks. In case the cause comes from the engine or transmission, you should seek the help of professional mechanics.

Pay attention to the little signs

You can rely on some of the small signs below to detect Burning Oil Smell Through Vents:

  • When you have trouble shifting gears or hear an annoying sound, chances are the engine is heating up faster than normal. This causes the diesel to drop rapidly with no sign of leakage.
  • If you notice the brakes don’t work and react quickly, it’s coming from low oil. At this point, you need to seal the leak to prevent oil from spilling out.
  • Diesel pistons fail if gear cracks appear and are corroded..

Tips for DIY Rooting

To prevent the situation where an oil furnace smells like exhaust, you should spray soap solution into the drain and cold pipes. This will help you detect the location of the oil leak.

Also, make sure that your oil leak test takes place under normal engine temperature conditions. To check if the PCV is working properly, simply place your finger on the running motor. If you feel a strong suction, there is no need to worry.

Is the smell of oil from the vent after an oil change normal?

The presence of oil smell from the vents indicates that your car is having problems. Here are 3 reasons why this happens:


Oil spills are the first and most common cause you will likely encounter. When the oil reaches the exhaust pipe when this part is at high temperature, it will produce a strong odor of burning oil. The burning smell will last for a while, you won’t need to worry in this case.

Oil drain plug is loose

When changing engine oil, you need to turn the drain plug and some parts to drain the old oil and dirt inside. It will help keep the engine clean before changing the oil. If the oil cap or oil cap is loose, the oil will leak to the outside. You will notice the burning smell as soon as you get close to any hot part of the engine.


You need oil to be able to maintain stable operation of the engine, transmission, brake system and a number of other components. The phenomenon of leakage will take place, which will cause the oil to burn, producing an unpleasant odor with strange noises. At this point, stop your car and check it out before your car has a serious problem.

Can I drive if my car smells like burning oil after driving?

The answer will depend on the cause of the problem. If a strong concentration of gasoline appears from the heating element, you can continue to drive normally. But sustaining over the long haul would not be recommended.

On the other hand, in case you smell an unpleasant odor from the air vents at the bottom of the car. You need to stop the car immediately and seek the help of professional mechanics.

What is the other burning smell from the car?

Other burning car odors can come from burning rubber, plastic or carpet. In there:

  • Burnt rubber: Your engine is too old, it is excessively corroded, causing parts to fail quickly if you do not handle it in time.
  • Burnt plastic smell: This smell comes from the heater or fan. At this point, you need to check the fan, mechanical components and resistors. When the cooling system is burned, it will emit an unpleasant burning smell, which is not good for health.
  • Burnt carpet: When you press the brake hard, the caliper piston is held.


Why does my vents smell like oil?

Burnt vents can come from an oil leak in the exhaust manifold, transmission problems, etc. In this case, you need to stop your car and find out the cause. Most things that come from vents are not simple.

Why does my house smell like burning oil?

When you smell acrid oil, it means that the smoke is not coming out correctly. The ventilation system may be clogged or cracked. At this point, instead of continuing, you should stop the car and ask for the help of a mechanic.

Is burning oil smell toxic?

Part of the exhaust smoke that appears during the burning of oil contains particles and gases that are harmful to the body. It will seriously affect your health if you come into direct contact and for a long time.

Is it safe to breathe oil fumes?

They are dangerous when you breathe in exhaust gases or liquids into your lungs. Ingestion of hydrocarbons can cause lung irritation, suffocation, and a host of dangerous neurological conditions.


Hopefully, this article will help you better understand about burning oil smell through vents. There are many reasons why this happens. If it comes from a heating pipe or spilled oil, you don’t need to worry too much. 

But if the problem comes from the exhaust system, it is most likely that this part has cracked or leaked oil. It’s dangerous and you need to stop the car to fix the problem.


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