Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Driving in heat towing a trailer and suddenly the car smells strongly like nail varnish? Adjusted A/C and

asked by on

We were driving for about 4 hours in West Texas heat, towing a trailer and we had suddenly started getting hot air and then going back to cold. Then hot air, then Cold. We went over a bump and suddenly our car smelled like nail varnish. We thought it was the town so we stopped circulating air in the car and the smell stopped but it came back again within 5 mins or so. Then we turned it off completely but could still smell it. It came back and stopped multiple times during our driving and then stopped for a long time, but then we stopped for a while and I could smell it in the passenger seat so strongly I had to open the car door. The passenger floorboard was hot and my husband said he thought that could be a symptom of a catylytic converter? We have no idea what's happening.

My car has 125638 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

The catalytic converter may be getting overheated and turning cherry red, causing the hot floor and burning smell. The engine may be running too rich which can cause this problem as well. Also, towing the trailer can overheat the transmission. It can reach a point where it will start to overheat the engine. Do you know if the trailer exceeds the towing capacity of the vehicle or not?

Another possible problem you stated was the A/C going hot and cold. This means the A/C is not working correctly as well. Check to make sure that the A/C blows cold after the engine cools off. If it does not blow cold any more then you may have blown the A/C evaporator. This would explain the nail polish smell. It could also leak refrigerant and oil out of A/C drain. The fluid can get on the exhaust and can also cause a burning smell. If you need help fixing the issue, consider YourMechanic, as mobile mechanic to come and check it out. They will be able to perform checks on the components I’ve mentioned and diagnose the smell you’re experiencing and your A/C issue firsthand. Good luck.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Driving in heat towing a trailer and suddenly the car smells strongly like nail varnish? Adjusted A/C and

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Noise when key is turned on and off from under the hood

The noise sounds like the battery or connections are bad. You should have battery connections cleaned real good by disconnecting and cleaning off all corrosion and reinstalling. If problem continues then have battery tested. Once this is done then have...

Q: A/C blows only hot air

I would suggest checking power and ground for the A/C compression clutch. The power is fed through the wire connector to the clutch, and it's grounded though the body of the compressor to the engine block. If there is power...

Q: I have a 09 subru foster. Needs rotors. I like to know on average how much this might cost me.

Hello there. In order to provide you with an accurate quote we need to collect some additional information about your location and vehicle. Please request a price quote for brake rotors / disc replacement and one of our sales team...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.