Why does my Car Smell like burnt plastic?

What causes the smell of burnt plastic in a car?

The smell of burnt plastic in a car can be caused by various sources, however, it is typically from an electrical problem. Some common causes include:

4 Reasons Why does Car smells like burnt plastic?

Electrical Short

If an electrical short occurs, this may cause a burning smell in your vehicle. The source of the problem should be easy to find if you follow the trail of the smoke or odor. You may want to enlist the help of a mechanic because it could be a problem that goes beyond your knowledge base and experience with vehicles.

Burnt Wiring Harness

A wiring harness can become damaged due to exposure to heat over time through friction against other parts like fan belts and pulleys. Even though most modern cars have few places with exposed wiring, the harness under the hood is still subjected to heat and elements that can be tough on it.

Burnt HVAC Duct

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) duct in a car can also cause a burning smell if there is a hole or crack in the ducting. This will allow an electrical short to occur when your heater or air conditioner is turned on causing a smoky odor in the vehicle. Look for fraying around any damaged areas of the ducting and replace any pieces that show signs of damage. If you suspect there is damage but cannot find it, enlist the help of a mechanic who has experience working with cars find this problem.

Prying around at random can cause more damage.

Burnt Wiring Harness under the seat

The wiring harness under the seat is also exposed to heat and other elements that can be tough on it. If there are any frayed wires or damaged areas, this may cause a burning smell. Look for any signs of damage to this part of your car’s wiring system.

How to fix Why does my Car Smell like burnt plastic?

If you have tried all these options without success, you may want to look into how old your vehicle is because there may be an issue with the design itself causing many problems like this one for example; your car smells like burnt plastic because of an electrical short. The older the vehicle gets, the more likely it is that there will be issues like this due to poor design.

If you are having electrical problems with your vehicle, it is best to have a mechanic check out the problem for you before doing any work yourself. This will help save time and money by avoiding making things worse. With the increasing frequency of recalls on many vehicles in recent years, it is also important to make sure that your vehicle hasn’t been recalled before making repairs or getting parts replaced so that they don’t cause more serious problems later when they are not supposed to be defective.


Unfortunately, there is not one quick fix for this problem. The best course of action would be to take the car into a mechanic and have it checked out. Are you smelling something different from what you used to? If so, do some research on that smell before going in with your diagnosis.