Q: Burning smell coming from under the hood and car stalling at stop light

asked by on October 16, 2017

I recently had the brake pads/rotors replaced as well as had the oil changed and fluids topped off. I also had the camshaft position sensor replaced because my car was having trouble starting when the engine was cold. Within the last year I have also had my alternator and battery replaced. Now, there is a burning smell coming from under the hood and my car stalled after being idle for a few minutes and needed to be restarted. I was driving on a long trip (~250 miles) and I noticed a burning smell coming from under the hood. Sometimes there is a little bit of steam/smoke, but the smell is prominent after driving. The smell does not go into the cabin and seems to occur regardless if the AC/heater is on. The engine heat indicator is normal and does not indicate that the engine is overheating. After the trip, the car stalled and engine quit at a stop light and I had to restart the car. It restarted OK and seems to be running normally now apart from the burning smell.

My car has 139000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

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If oil is leaking through the valve cover gasket, and the oil drips onto the hot exhaust manifold, you will see smoke as well as detect a very strong burning odor. Such a leak would be a potential fire hazard, too. Some antifreeze leaks will result in "smoke" or vapors. In any event, anytime you have "smoke" of any kind, or to any degree, coming from the under hood area, that is something that should be investigated and resolved promptly. If you desire, you can request an oil leak diagnostic and the responding certified mechanic will pinpoint the leak(s) and then let you know of your repair options and costs. With regard to the stalling, there are obviously a range of potential causes that involve fuel, ignition, air intake, key engine sensors and so forth. To obtain a stalling diagnostic, please use Your Mechanic’s engine stalling diagnostic service page to make a service request and the responding certified mechanic will get this resolved for you. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

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