Burning rubber smell from your car tire is caused by overheating of the tires. overheating generally results from overloading, underinflation, bent suspension, worn out wheel assembly and brakes, oversized tires and wheel misalignment. Different precautionary steps should be taken to prevent tire overheating as it can jeopardize your safety.
That being the case, how do these issues lead to tire overheat and how do you avoid them? Let’s dig in.
Why Does My Car Tire Smell Like It’s Burning?
As you have probably guessed by now, the burning smell produced by a car tire is caused by overheating of the tire. But why do tires overheat?
Tires usually overheat due to the following reasons:
Overloading can be one of the reasons why your tire is overheating. When tires carry more weight than they were designed to carry, they generate more heat when driving.
This surplus heat is a result of the increased rolling resistance that tires face.
It is similar to how you face resistance when rubbing your hand on a surface. The more the downward force you apply with your hand, the bigger the resistance will be. This resistance is felt in the form of friction and will result in heat.
Prevention: To prevent the car from overloading, check the weight of the car and ensure that it is below the manufacturer’s recommended limit.
You may use a public weigh station near you or a hydraulic scale at a car workshop. Do not tow or put extra weight that exceeds the limit stated by the manufacturer.
Low Tire Pressure
A lower tire pressure increases the contact area of the tire with the road. This is because when the tire is flat, the treads spread out more. It creates more friction, resulting in tire overheating.
Underinflated tires also flex more. It is because the air pressure within is not capable of maintaining the shape of the tire. This phenomenon is similar to how a balloon maintains its shape. When the balloon is inflated it swells up. But when the balloon is deflated, it shrivels up and loses its former shape.
The flexing of the underinflated tire increases the area of the tire which is in contact with the road. The increase in contact area in turn ends up increasing heat generation.
Prevention: Regularly check the tire pressure of every tire in your car. You may use an analog or a digital gauge for this purpose. Ensure that the tires are evenly inflated and the tire pressure is within manufacturer’s recommended limits.
These limits are typically listed in the vehicle owner’s manual, on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb, or on the inside of the fuel filler door.
[Pro tip: Always measure the pressure of the tire while it is cold to avoid misleading results.]
Oversized tires can come into contact with the wheel well when steering, generating heat from the friction.
Prevention: Always use tires that are the appropriate size for your rims. You will find the appropriate size in your vehicle owner’s manual.
You may also switch your existing rims for larger rims, provided that you consider other factors such as the load capacity, suspension type of your car and the clearance between the tire and your vehicle.
Rubbing Against Bent Suspension
Suspensions have a limited lifespan and can lose their elasticity over time. This results in a sagging suspension. When driving over speed bumps, it bends, and comes into contact with the car tire and creates friction.
Prevention: Do not overload your car to reduce load on your suspension. Avoid potholes and bumpy roads that increase suspension load. If the issue persists, change the suspension.
Worn Out Wheel Assembly
Worn out components that make up the wheel assembly, such as wheel bearing, ball joints, control arms and tie rods, can cause the tires to rub against the fender causing inner tire wear or rubbing against the suspension resulting in tire overheating.
Prevention: Check the wheel assembly for wear and tear. Jack up the wheel off the ground and look for ‘play’.
Grasp top and bottom of the wheel and push one end towards the car, while simultaneously pulling the other end. It is normal to have a play of 1/32 inch to 3/32 inch.
If the wheel moves more than this, change the wheel assembly. Changing the wheel assembly can be a very complex process. The parts of a wheel assembly is illustrated below:
To replace your worn out ball joints, follow the steps mentioned here: How To: Replace Ball Joints on Your Vehicle
To replace your control arms, go through the steps stated in this video: How to Replace a Lower Control Arm
Worn Out Brakes
Worn out brake pads can cause the tires to heat up as well. When the brakes are worn you will need to brake harder every time. This results in a lot of skidding and locking of tires and can eventually make the tires overheat.
Solution: Replace your worn out brake pads. To check if your brake pad is worn, look through the spokes of the wheels of your car and search for the pads pressed against the brake rotor. If the brake pads are less than ¼ inch thick, you should replace the pads. Swap the brake pad with a new one.
Also, some brake pads have wear indicators on them to indicate their wear. As the brake pad gets worn out, the wear indicator comes into contact with the rotor. This makes a loud screeching noise. Replace the brake pad when you hear this screech.
Severe Wheel Misalignment
If the wheels are badly aligned, the wheel may rub against the suspension and the fender, overheating the tire. Uneven tread wear is a possible symptom of wheel misalignment.
Solution: Wheel alignment is done by manually adjusting the toe, caster and camber angles. Though the wheels can be aligned visually, it is a very cumbersome and ineffective process. Using an alignment machine can give much better results.
What Are The Problems of Having an Overheated Tire?
The rubber compound which makes up the tire can break down at high temperatures, causing the tire to wear out early. The structure of the tire also weakens from heat, making the tire less resistant to rough road conditions.
When the tire overheats, the structural material degrades. This increases the risk of the tire tread getting separated from the tire. If this occurs while driving at high speeds you will lose control of your car, leading to fatal accidents.
If you are getting a burning rubber smell, check your tire treads for any sign of separation before going on a drive.
Overheating can weaken the structure of the tire. This can also produce cracks in tire tread. The increasing pressure of the air inside the tire and crack on tire tread can lead to a dangerous blowout.
Should I Drive My Car if It Smells Like Burning Rubber?
No, you shouldn’t drive your car if it smells like burning rubber. Overheated tires can result in reduced traction and thus reduced stopping power. In addition, it can increase the risk of puncture and even dangerous blowouts.
What Are Other Ways to Prevent Car Tires from Burning?
Other ways to prevent car tires from burning are rotating your tires and keeping a tire record. Keeping a tire record helps keep track of the tread wear and age of your tires.
Rotating your tires at least 2 times a year can help even out the tread wear. Both of these ways will indirectly help prevent tire overheating.
What to Do When Only One Tire Smells Like Burning rubber?
If only one of your tires smell like burning rubber, then check the corresponding wheel assembly and suspension system. It can also be caused by uneven load distribution and poor alignment. If the suspension is sagging, have it replaced.
If any component of the wheel assembly is worn off then they should also be replaced. If the tire is rubbing against the suspension, then fix the alignment.
Why Does My Car Smell Like Burning Rubber When Accelerating?
Your car smells like burning rubber when accelerating because the clutch or the brakes are bad. Check if the clutch (if it is a manual car) or if the brakes have been worn out.
A misaligned brake rotor can also be the cause of this burning rubber smell. Replace out the clutch or the brakes if they look worn out to fix this issue.
Is The Burning Smell From Car Tires Normal If Driving for Too Long?
No, the burning smell from car tires after driving for too long is not normal as they are very durable. They can get warm but will not overheat simply from driving in normal road conditions.
Check for unusual wear patterns and visible damage to the inner or outer wall. The overheating may be caused by rubbing of the tires with the suspension or the fender due to incorrect wheel offset or sagging suspensions.
What Can Give A Burning Tire Smell Other Than Tires?
The following can give a burning tire smell other than the tires:
- A Worn out drive belt
- Loose hoses coming into contact with the engine while driving
- Motor oil leak
- A melting timing belt or serpentine belt
- The Failure of the drive shaft carrier bearing
- A Failed tensioner
Do New Tires Smell Like Burning Rubber?
Yes, new tires often smell like burning tires, which is a remnant of the tire making process in the factory. Most of the smell is removed in the factory, but some of it may remain. This smell is akin to the smell of a burning tire, and will dissipate over a few weeks.
Why Does My Car Smell Like A Burning Tire When The Heat Is On?
The car can smell like a burning tire when the heat is on due to leaking ethylene glycol and melting insulation. Ethylene Glycol gets pumped through the tubes when you turn your heat on.
If there is a hole in the tubing, Ethylene Glycol leaks out and gets burned. This gives out a smell similar to that of burning rubber. Likewise, if the cabin filter gets clogged up by dust, the motor requires more power to draw air. The excess power can cause extra heat, resulting in melting insulation..
Why Does My Car Smell Like A Burning Tire under The Hood?
The car may smell like a burning tire under your hood due to burning rubber hose, a melting timing cover, as well as belt slippage. This does not affect your actual car tires. Rubber hoses may get loose over time and come into contact with the engine and melt.
Furthermore, the timing cover, which is made of plastic and rubber, may also melt from heat, giving off a foul rubber burning smell. Moreover, Motor oil may also leak into the engine and get burned.
Now you know why you are getting a burning rubber smell from your car tire. A burning tire smell can be a sign of overheating and should be addressed immediately. Make sure you inspect your tires frequently to ensure your safety.
That is it for today. Hope you could fix the burning smell easily. All the best and goodbye!