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
  • Home
  • Questions
  • 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: Car won't rev or go when pushing gas pedal. Only revs up in neutral or park unless you work with it to keep it revving

Hello. The first task in solving this problem is to extract problem codes that are set, whether the Check Engine light is on or not. There are several problems which could cause this behavior, such as a bad throttle position...

Q: Clunking noise hear it at speeds of 35-40 loud

Hi There, What you are describing sounds like a bad or worn out ball joint. A ball joint is designed to pivot through multiple planes. Of course, because the ball joint constantly pivots at different angles, it tends to wear...

Q: How do I use the air conditioning?

Using the air conditioning could not be any simpler. All you need to do is press the air conditioning button on the climate controls to turn on the air conditioning, and press it a second time to turn the air...

Related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
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.