Burning Wax Smell after Driving Car
April 27, 2013 9:24 AM   Subscribe

I have a 1997 Honda Civic that is running like a top. But the last couple of times I drove, there is a smell like burning wax. The car is not overheating or anything like that. Does anyone have any ideas?
posted by millerizer to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
You might have gotten a piece of plastic trash whooshed up into the engine area or around the exhaust, which is now melting. I had this happen once (plastic grocery bag). Can you tell where the smell is coming from?
posted by The otter lady at 9:34 AM on April 27, 2013

What otter lady stated. ITs most likely something melted to your exhaust . if you look under your car you will most likely see a burnt peace of plastic on your exhaust between your engine and your tail pipe.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:54 AM on April 27, 2013

I smelt something like the other day from a passing car which seemed to be struggling up a hill, I thought it might still have it's handbrake on.
posted by epo at 10:46 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Though this might not be your issue, when the gasket on my engine block failed, it started leaking coolant into the oil. That came out as vapor and a sickly smell. Might be you are smelling that and thinking of it as wax.
posted by diode at 10:58 AM on April 27, 2013

My first thought was similar to the first two answers - plastic grocery bag on the exhaust. My truck had that smell for months from a bag on the exhaust manifold.
posted by notsnot at 12:09 PM on April 27, 2013

Just to expand on Diode's answer-leaking coolant will smell a little like cheap maple syrup when you put it on hot pancakes or heat it up in the microwave-the chemical used is kinda similar to sugar and so kinda smells like hot syrup, and not generally a waxy smell. I would also guess something caught in your exhaust. Also did you drive through any construction zone or unpaved road recently? sometimes the chemicals used or dust control can have odd smells that linger on the car. You could try washing the car and see if the smell disappears (make sure you get in the wheel wells and behind the tires)
posted by bartonlong at 12:22 PM on April 27, 2013

Not likely but still possible. Check your A/Cs operation. Could be a slow refrigerant leak.
posted by notreally at 1:04 PM on April 27, 2013

It also could be a good old-fashioned engine oil leak, dripping on the heated exhaust manifold.
posted by DandyRandy at 9:16 AM on April 30, 2013

Response by poster: That's why I love to ask questions here; you guys are brilliant!

A few days ago ran over a plastic grocery bag, then forgot all about it. But, in checking, the residue was all over the tailpipe.

Thanks for all the answers. I am happy it wasn't anything serious.
posted by millerizer at 5:57 AM on May 1, 2013

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