If you’ve ever driven a car with a leaky coolant system, you know how pungent vinegar smells. The strong smell is a natural byproduct of the chemical reaction that occurs when you mix antifreeze with water. Because antifreeze has ethylene glycol (EG) as one of its major ingredients, the final product that comes from mixing water and antifreeze has an odor similar to vinegary apple cider. This is why even the smallest leak can fill your car with a potent odor almost immediately. If you’re lucky enough to own a newer car, it’s highly unlikely that your car will give off this vinegary scent. However, if you think your vehicle might be leaking coolant or is leaking different fluids than usual, keep reading for more information on why your car smells like vinegar.
Why Does My Car Smell Like Vinegar?
The smell of vinegar on your car is usually a sign of mildew growing inside the vehicle. Mildew has the ability to grow very quickly and is capable of spreading through the entire vehicle in only a few days. The smell of vinegar on your car is a sign that your vehicle needs to be cleaned thoroughly to prevent the mildew from worsening. A strong, unpleasant odor may indicate an infestation of mites or other small insects that also need to be removed from the vehicle.
What Is The Cause Of A Vinegar Smelling Car?
Your Tires Are Scuffed
If you have a car that’s older than 5 years, the first thing you should check is the condition of your tires. You see, as tires age, they start to break down and release different chemicals which, in turn, can mix with the air and produce a sour, vinegar-like smell that could make its way into your car’s cabin. This is especially likely if you live in an area where the climate is particularly hot and the roads are dry, meaning that tires break down even faster. If your tires are scuffed and you can smell vinegar, the best thing to do is get them replaced as soon as possible.
Your Battery Is Dying
If this is a new smell of vinegar in your car and you have been driving it normally, then there’s a chance that your battery is dying. Batteries have a designed lifespan, and when they begin to wear out, they often release a distinct smell that is reminiscent of vinegar. If this is the case with your battery, then you’ll want to get it replaced as soon as possible. This is especially true if you’re starting to notice other warning signs of a dying battery. Throughout the lifespan of a car, a number of different things can cause the smell of vinegar in your car, but the simplest and most effective way to stop it is to get a new battery. Since your car depends on a strong, steady current from the battery to run, the smell of vinegar could be caused by a failing voltage regulator.
You Have A Smelling Shower Head
If you’ve recently installed a new shower head, there’s a chance that something went wrong during the installation process and now the head is releasing a sour, vinegar-like smell into the air. This smell is usually caused by a build-up of mineral deposits inside the head that have been left untreated. If this is the case, the easiest way to get rid of the smell is to leave the shower head off for a while. This way, any excess mineral deposits can dry out and come out of the head naturally. You can also try cleaning the head with vinegar or CLR to remove any mineral deposits that are still left inside.
There’s A Dead Animal Somewhere
If you’re experiencing a constant stream of the smell of vinegar in your car, then this could be a sign that there’s a dead animal somewhere in your engine. Unfortunately, the smell of vinegar is one of the most common signs that a dead animal has been inside your car, meaning that you’ll probably want to take it to a mechanic shop as soon as possible. Once you’ve removed the dead animal from the engine, the smell should go away. In the meantime, try leaving your windows open to get some fresh air flowing through your car.
You Have A Moldy Vent Or Shower Head
If you’ve recently cleaned out your shower head and the smell of vinegar still remains, then there’s a chance that a moldy shower head caused the foul odor in the first place. A moldy shower head will likely have a black, scummy build-up that could easily be mistaken for mineral deposits. In reality, this could be a sign that the shower head is covered in mold and mildew! If you’ve cleaned out your shower head with vinegar or CLR and the smell of vinegar still remains, then it’s likely that there’s a moldy buildup inside the shower head that needs to be treated with a special cleaner.
What Does Vinegar Smelling Coolant Look Like?
- The color of coolant is often watery blue, but when coolant is mixed with water, it’ll take on a brownish color.
- You might see a small puddle of this dark brown liquid under your car’s engine. You might also smell the vinegar smell from the puddle itself, especially if the leak is recent.
- If you notice a brown puddle underneath your car, you should pull over immediately, as this is a sign of a major coolant leak.
- Driving with a large coolant leak can damage your engine and may even cause the engine to seize up.
How To Find Out If You’re Leaking Coolant?
- If you’ve noticed a large puddle of brown liquid under your car, then you’ve got a coolant leak. However, if you don’t see a puddle, that doesn’t mean that your car isn’t leaking.
- Coolant often evaporates quickly and will leave no visible trace behind.
- If you’re really curious, you can open up your car’s hood and smell the air coming out of the engine.
- If your car is leaking coolant, you’ll be able to smell the vinegary smell from the engine.
Where Should You Smell Vinegar When You Drive?
- In addition to searching for a puddle of coolant or smelling the air coming out of the engine, you should also smell the air inside the car to see if you can smell the vinegar smell.
- If you smell the vinegar smell inside the car, there’s a good chance that you’re experiencing a major coolant leak.
- If the smell is particularly strong, you might even want to pull over in order to avoid damaging your engine.
How To Fix A Vinegar Smelling Leak?
- If you smell the vinegar smell inside your car, there’s a good chance that you’re experiencing a coolant leak. However, you should still pull over as soon as you can in order to avoid damaging your car’s engine.
- If you’re driving when you smell the vinegar smell, you might want to roll down your windows to avoid getting sick from the smell.
- Once your car has come to a stop, you should pop open your hood and search for the source of the smell.
- You might see a puddle of brown liquid that you can easily identify as coolant.
- If you find the leak, you’ll want to get it fixed as soon as possible.
- If the coolant is leaking because of a crack or hole, it might get worse as time goes on.
- A small leak can quickly become a big one.
If you’ve ever driven a car with a leaky coolant system, you know how pungent vinegar smells. The strong smell is a natural byproduct of the chemical reaction that occurs when you mix antifreeze with water. A coolant leak is a common cause of a vinegar-smelling car, and luckily it’s easy to fix once you’ve found the source of the leak.