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Truck Repair 101: 7 Bad Truck Smells You Should Never Ignore

Your commercial vehicles require regular fleet maintenance to ensure they keep running and stay on the road. There are times when your drivers might report that they are noticing funny smells coming from their trucks. It is worth your time to investigate and find out whether there could be a bigger issue that could require truck repair service.

1. Diesel/Gas Fuel

Diesel and gas smells are common when filling up and around the fuel tank. Yet, if they persist and linger, it often indicates there is a leak in the fuel line or a faulty fuel injector. You should have your mechanic check it out as soon as possible. A good indication of a Fuel problem is on a Diesel is excessive smoke, lack of power and a burning feeling in your eyes.

2. Burning Oil

The smell of burning oil could occur if any oil is spilled when topping it off. It should not continue to smell for a long time. If it does, it means there is an oil leak somewhere that needs to be repaired. You also need to remember, Oil is not just in your engine, Your hubs have oil, you can check for inner wheel seal leaks by inspecting the inside of your tire and outside leaks by looking at your rim for signs of oil. Your transmission, your differentials and if you have a PTO, your hydraulic tank. These are all areas for potential leaks that can cause much bigger issues. At East Coast Diesel we check all these trouble areas during our routine PMB inspection

Oil leaks aren’t good for the engine. If all the oil leaks out, there won’t be any oil left to lubricate the moving parts and the engine can throw a rod or seize up.

3. Sweet Syrup

If your driver reports they smell pancake syrup in the truck, this often indicates there is a radiator or coolant leak. A hose might need to be replaced, coolant could be leaking out of the water pump, or there could be a crack in the radiator. You may also have a EGR Cooler leaking which could be internal, causing excessive pressure in the system which can cause random and ongoing coolant leaks.

Get this problem fixed right away. If the truck runs out of coolant, the engine will overheat and the heads can crack and warp.

4. Rotten Eggs

The smell of rotten eggs can be normal with diesel engines since diesel fuel contains sulfur. If you are using a lower-quality diesel fuel it could contain more sulfur and give off this smell.

Another cause for the rotten egg smell is a faulty catalytic converter if your truck has one. Not all diesel vehicles have catalytic converters or better known as diesel particulate filters, but all gasoline vehicles do.

The only other reason for a persistent rotten eggs smell is a problem with the battery or batteries in your truck. If the alternator is overcharging the battery, it can cause the battery fluid to boil and release sulfur.

When you smell this smell, it is important to have it looked at quickly, damage to the engine or vehicle electrical system can be the result.

5. Burning Plastic/Rubber

These smells are distinct and, unless your driver just blew out a tire, they indicate there is something wrong: A drive belt or fan belt is getting ready to break; a rubber hose could be rubbing against moving parts and components; or there is an electrical system problem that is causing wiring to become too hot and the plastic coating is melting.

Man repairing truck cab

6. Sour Milk/Mold/Mildew

If any of these smells is persistent, it means that moisture in the heating/cooling system is not evaporating, so mold and mildew are growing. While this smell won’t affect the vehicle performance, it can affect the health of your drivers.

You would want your commercial truck mechanic to detail clean, seal, and replace ductwork, if necessary, to resolve this problem. The evaporator may also be bad and need to be replaced too.

East Coast Diesel offers a full vehicle disinfectant service that kills germs, viruses, and odors in the interior of your vehicle. Call the Durham NC store for details.

7. Burning Carpet

This smell means something is wrong with the brakes and braking system. When brake pads don’t release and continue to press against the moving rotor or drum, it will give off this smell. Another cause for this smell is if there are electrical wires that are overheating underneath carpeting in the cab.

East Coast Diesel is Certified and trained in Fleet Maintenance, Truck repair and overall vehicle maintenance, it is our goal to keep your fleet rolling. We work on-site for all preventative maintenance and we have full-service shops for diagnostic and extensive repairs. We offer a fully integrated fleet tracking program that shows you in real time your fleets status, repairs, and invoices.

If you or your drivers report any of these smells, please feel free to contact East Coast Diesel LLC today! We offer truck repair, fleet maintenance, roadside assistance, and mobile truck service in the Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, and Atlanta metro areas.


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