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MG MGF Technical - My engine smells burning Rubber!

After been accelarating, i get this smell of "burning rubber" coming from the engine! Have anyone noticed that, is it normal, or anyone knows what that may be?
Bruno Valadas

Hi Bruno,

your VVC?? must have been driven at high speed for several miles, was it ?

Did you realise increased engine temperature ?

Please add some details on how much miles has your MGF on the clock and how young is it ?

PS, sorry, but my english skills are not the best. :o)

hi Dieter i toke your advise and came here! you´ve been mailing me as Patricia....Sorry for the late in identifying myself. The car is from july 1996, has 38k kilmeters. The water temp is always in the middle... the oil temp is posted in other topic.... This Happend me frequently an it´s more noticeble after hard accelarating. Today i made the 0-100 km test and i got an intense smell of burning rubber in the cockpit! and it wasn´t from the tires´cause there was no loss of traction. Do you wonder what myght be? speaking of smells..the cockpit has allways an intense smell of petrol...

> you´ve been mailing me as Patricia

Names are 'noise and smoke' .. LOL
I wondered already about such techy detail knowledge.
Now lets see what the experts state..


the 'smell phenomenon' you are talking about is exactly what I observe on my '97 VVC (~ 40.000 km)! The acrid smell comes (only) after hard acceleration, regardless of the oil/water temperature. It's more awful under hot weather conditions. And another important fact: this smell comes (also) when the (back) tires have full grip and are not spinning, right?

What I heavily assume is that this smell is *not* (burning) rubber but the clutch!!!

I have already posted this phenomenon here last year, but nobody was interested or had exactly the same problems. Sometimes my clutch does not engage fully (at the same speed I release the clutch pedal). The clutch requires some more sec to deliver full power to the tires. Clearly this manoveur is at the expense of the clutch and will effect the lifetime of this part.

However my clutch is still alive, it has been checked by the garage (haha - showtime-effect: when I wanted to present this phenomenon to the mechanic my F (and the clutch) worked excellent, resulting in wonderful 0-100 times), hence I skipped this topic but still have this smell from time to time.


P.S. Tires or tyres? I do not know.

Rubber smell is specific to rubber products, clutch smells are different as is oil leaks onto the exhaust.

If it is indeed a rubber smell then check out any rotating part of the engine and transmission is not in contact with a spray cover or some other small item from the car, or even picked up whilst driving.

If the smell could be oil the look for oil leaking onto the exhaust which will leave a tell tale stain.

If it is the clutch then you must induce a fair degree of actual clutch slip to heat the plate, simply driving the car hard will not do this, unless the clutch is weak. If that were the case then you would experience clutch slip when driving along with your foot away from the clutch pedal and when in 3rd or 4th gear at about 4000rpm and accelerating.

Finally coolant on the exhaust does give a similar smell to rubber, and as we know loss of coolant is not unheard of. If you have to top up your header tank at all then now we have a real clue. Whether the leak is from the inlet manifold gasket seal, loose or damaged hose or the start of a head gasket problem is something to look into.


Roger Parker

I smell it all the time when I open the boot after any ride. I don't pay attention to it anymore :-)

Was quite scary first time I parked during the winter my wild-driven F in an underground garage where it was very humid, cold and badly illuminated. When I opened the boot and the bootlight was about the only real source of light around, I noticed not only this strong oil/rubber smell but also you saw puffs of smoke otherwise unnoticed in normal conditions...
At least a HGF smells quite different (the smell of death), and once you know that smell, you'll never forget it again!!!!
and FYI, a blown VVC engine actually doesn't smell special at all :)
Dirk Vael

Just an idea,
can the alternator belt produce this smell ?

I get this smell too - only after hard acceleration. I thought that the small was more like burning oil. I'm going to have to check out Roger's suggestion of oil dripping onto the exhaust as my F has started to use a little oil recently. Although this doesn't explain why it smells only when accelerating hard, unless there's a breather somewhere which sprays? Any ideas anyone?

9408 SD 76


I think it's definetly the clutch!
(1) It's not the smell like burning rubber (and of course I know that smell ;-)
(2) It's not coolant liquid or oil (on hot exhaust) since my VCC is dry.
(3) It's not the brake because the smell comes even when not braking
(4) When the clutch starts sliding (only during hard acceleration) then the smell comes and vice versa.

Like Dirk I don't pay much attention to it anymore, even it's very acrid and also penetrating the passenger room. Furthermore I stopped doing more than one hard acceleration manoveur in series.

I'm not sure the clutch is weak, because under other "operation conditions" it works fine. And I don't think the clutch is worn, because I have this phenomenon from the very first day (okay... from day +1.000 km to be correct).


>I smell it all the time when I open the boot after
>any ride.

I noticed an increase of a burned smell after fitting the K&N. It never disappeared since then .... just like the sound.


A continuously slipping alternator belt could induce a burnt rubber smell, but then you would also get periods of belt squeal especially when the engine is cold and damp is on the belt and pulleys.

Clutch smell it is then for some! As an aside I winder whether those who have clutch slip suffer from difficult gear engagement. Sometimes these clutches drag and make engagement difficult. I have used a crude but effective method of partial relief which is to 'burn' the clutch until the 'smell' is just apparant. This usually eases the dragging clutch. My query is whether my experience applies to other 'slipping clutches'.

If the engine has very minor emission of oil or coolant overflow (neither of which should really happen) then the much higher temps achieved during and just after a 'good run' will always tend to 'cook' these and generate increased smell. Drawing a line between acceptable and fault conditions is the key.

Roger Parker

When i first started belting my F after the running in period, I must confess that occasionally i was a bit heavy footed on the clutch. It was a bad old habit i got into from driving diesel vehicles a lot in order to obtain better accelaration!. Needless to say, after a couple of times when the car filled with an awful 'clutch on fire' smell, i realised that i didn't need to feather it while taking off.

It doesn't take a lot to overheat the clutch, but having said that, no damage has been done. And, with the F having plenty of power it ain't necessary to 'Slip' the clutch or 'Burn' rubber for a good take off!


You're not alone boys!! I have noticed this smell of burning rubber as well. It's great to find out that other F owners are experiencing the same problems.

This thread was discussed between 08/12/1999 and 14/12/1999

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