Burnt Rubber Smell Outside? [7 Likely Causes]

Are you smelling burnt rubber outside your home and wondering what’s causing it?

Not only can the smell be unpleasant, but you may be concerned that whatever is causing it can be a neighborhood hazard for you and others.

It’s a legitimate concern.

In this article, I am going to cover the 7 most likely causes of burnt rubber smell outside your home and some tips on what you can do about it.

If you don’t have the time to read through it all, here’s a short answer to the question:

  • Nearby Factories
  • Cars Peeling Out or Suddenly Braking
  • Nearby Car Has Belt or Hose That Has Burned
  • Asphalt Smell Due to Road Construction
  • Skunks
  • Electrical Fire (Rubber Wire Insulation Gets Burned)
  • Nearby Landfills

Ok, let’s get into it!

If you prefer this article in video format, check out my YouTube video below.

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

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1. Nearby Factories

A common cause of burnt rubber smell is a nearby factory that is processing materials that may smell like burning rubber. They may produce product that include rubber or plastic (which can smell like rubber when burned – more on that later). Due to the high volume of materials being processed or produced, this smell can travel a decent distance.

So check around to see if there is a nearby factory that could be the culprit for this odor. A great resource is to go on city-data forum for your area and inquire. Your neighbors can be an amazing source of reliable information for stuff like this.

2. Cars Peeling Out or Braking Suddenly

We’ve all experienced this.

Whenever someone decides they want to peel out in their high performance car or motorcycle, they always leave a burnt rubber smell afterwards. The same thing can be said when someone brakes very quickly – in most cases to avoid an accident.

Of course, this smell is limited to a fairly small radius and dissipates quickly, so if you haven’t heard any peel outs or sudden braking noises before you smell the burnt rubber, it’s likely not this.

Of course, if this is happening all the time near you, not only is the smell unpleasant, but such dangerous activity could pose risk to other drivers and residents. You should contact local law enforcement to see if anything can be done, including further monitoring of the road by police.

3. Car’s Rubber Components Are Burning

Sticking to the car theme, another possible reasons for a burnt rubber smell outside is that a nearby car is burning some of its rubber components. This could be due to a rubber belt or a rubber hose melting because it is touching a hot engine or other high temperature area of the car.

This smell is likely weaker than the peeling out smell, so it would need to be coming from somewhere relatively close.

4. Asphalt Smell Due to Road Construction or Repair

If there is road construction or repairs going on nearby, that will often product a smell that is very similar to burning rubber. Mixing asphalt requires high temperatures and this can produce a strong smell that can often be mistaken for burnt rubber.

There is also a product known as rubberized asphalt, which is made from the burning of old tires. It is used a lot in Arizona, but other states like California, Florida, Texas and South Carolina have also adopted it. The manufacture of this type of material near you may cause a burning rubber smell as well.

5. Skunks

Ok this one doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Skunks can emit a powerful odor that lingers and can travel a decent distance.

This smell can often be confused with burning rubber if you are not familiar with it. If you sense that the smell is emanating from a nearby forest or wooded area, a skunk could very well be the source of the odor.

6. Electrical Fires

If there has been an electrical fire in your vicinity, that can sometimes include a burnt rubber odor due to the burning of related parts, such as rubber wire insulations and the like.

But even if there are no burning rubber components, the malfunction of electrical devices or items and the resulting fire can often be mistaken for a burnt rubber smell, although most people indicate that it may smell more like burning plastic.

7. Landfills

In some cases, a nearby landfill can produce odors that can be mistaken for burnt rubber. Landfills produce gases like methane, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide as things decompose and those gases can be powerful and linger. When mixed with other odors from the landfill, this could produce an unpleasant smell that could be misidentified as burnt rubber.

In some cases, trash is burned (often at or near local landfills) and that trash could include rubber tires and other rubber items. Obviously, if that is going on, that could account for the smell.


So there you have it – 7 possible causes of burnt rubber smell outside. Hope this has been helpful and happy renting!