Why Is My Tire Smoking and Smells Like Burning Rubber?

Did you notice your tire smoking and smells like burning rubber?

A lot of times, most people are quick to assume whatever their mind races to when they notice that their tire is smoking and smells like burning rubber.

Whether you figured out that your car smells like burning rubber after driving, or your back tires smell like burning rubber, figuring out the cause of the problem will save you from a lot of trouble.

Your tire smoking and smelling like burning rubber are caused by a lot of reasons. Your tire can start smoking and smelling like burning rubber when you hit the brake so hard. This is the frictional effect of heavy contact between the road and the tires.

This is usually common in racing cars, but for regular cars, there are chances that your tires are underinflated or you are running on flat tires.

Overweight, hot brakes, worn-out clutches, improper inflation are among the numerous reasons why your tires are smoking and smelling like burning rubber.

4 Causes of front tire smoking

Why Is My Tire Smoking and Smells Like Burning Rubber

Here are the top four causes of front tire smoking:

  • Brake malfunction
  • Old tires wearing out
  • Damage in the suspension component
  • Overspeeding and drifting

Brake Malfunction

Brakes play a great role in the smoking of tires and burning rubber smell emission. This will arise from either marching the brake too hard or a malfunction.

This might result from different cases of brake malfunction. One of the major brake fails that can result in tire smoking is a lack of retraction.

When the brake is not retracting, as a result of a lockup that comes from a clamped or frozen caliper or brake pad, it affects the state of the tires.

Old tires

We wouldn’t want to eliminate the fact that old front tires have a greater possibility of smoking and developing a burning rubber smell.

The irregular wear pattern on the front tire treads or sidewall will create enough pathways for the tires to overheat during friction and emit a burning smell.

Damage in the suspension component

One of the reasons why your front tire is smoking is because there is wear or damage in the suspension system of your car.

Damage to the suspension system will cause an irregular drive in your car. This will displace your tire’s position and prevent it from driving straight.

At this stage, there is a tendency that your front tires will start rubbing the inner fender and fender tip or the internal components of the car. This will generate enough friction that will cause the tires to smell like burning rubber.

Overspeeding and drifting

This is a natural phenomenon and the effect is usually much on the front tires. When you hit a speed bump during a high speed, the suspension component is affected and this, in turn, causes the tire to rub.

The rubbing of the tires will cause tire smoking and a burning rubber smell. This effect is similar to when you try out a hard drift.

Four Causes of back tires smoking

Why Is My Tire Smoking and Smells Like Burning Rubber


Slipping clutches tops is one of the major causes of back tire smoking. On rare occasions, the smell might be coming from your back tires but from “riding the clutch”.

In this scenario, there is likely an overheating of the clutch and wearing out of the clutch plate. This will have a direct impact on your tires and the car in general. On a smooth note, you might not have a bad clutch. You are simply clutching too hard.

Driving style

This is a factor that most drivers tend to overlook. Your driving style plays a huge role in the performance of your tires. You must understand that your tires are always in direct contact with asphalt and concrete.

Your performance with these road components depends on the level of friction on your tires. You shouldn’t ride your cars so hard like racing cars when they are not.

Brake Malfunction

Both for front and back tires, brake malfunction is a major cause of smelling tires. There are chances that your tires will smoke when your change new brakes.

This might not look like a huge problem, but it remains the duty of the technician to explain if it is just a curing process o a major fault.

Loose rubber hose or belt

The rubber hoses and belts handle the transmission and circulation of the car fluids and smooth operation of the gears. There are high chances that your brake master cylinder, caliper, or brake rotor is out of place; this will cause the tire to skid.

When the tires skid, they slip on the road. With irregular traction on the tires, the tires will smoke when you try to take a sharp bend.

Causes of small tires smoking


When there is an imbalanced placing on the tire’s load rating, there is a high possibility that the small tires will smoke. In this case, the tires will not only smoke and smell like burning rubber, but they will also blow out. The risk will become bigger than expected.


It is a random mistake to fail to inflate your small tires to the normal pressure. An underinflated tire results in an excessive flex on the sidewalls and a generation of excessive heat that will drive internal friction. This will in turn build up enough heat around the tire, causing the tire to smoke.

The truth remains, the causes of tire-smoking on small tires, back tires, or front tires are also applicable for all tires. These causes are not strictly limited to just one type of tire, as all tires can be affected by the same causes.

Is it safe to drive with smoking tires?

No. It is generally not safe to drive with smoking tires. Smoking tires can result in a lot of hazards that can endanger your life.

This includes a tire blowout, or in extreme cases, the tires can catch fire. Smoking tires are a result of friction and with constant contact, fire ignition is inevitable.

If you continue driving with smoking tires, your tires will become unstable and this can drive you to an accident. If the tires take a violent turn or uneven ride, the tires can tilt towards an unexpected position and cause you to lose control.

You might run into a ditch or another car, or even a pole. This is not a scene that you will love to experience. So the best you can do for yourself and other road users is to avoid driving on smoked tires.

What to do when your tire smokes

Here are things to do when your tire smokes:

  • Stop the car
  • Trace the fault
  • Fix the fault

Stop the car

The first thing you should do when you notice that your tires are smoking is to stop the car. You shouldn’t continue driving with a smoked tire.

Stop the car, come down and inspect the tires. You might not enough technical knowledge to fix the fault but this will help the car and the tire to cool down.

Trace the fault

You shouldn’t be in a haste to change the tires. The smoke or burning rubber smell that you are perceiving might not be coming from the tires but the internal components of the car.

So, the first thing you must do is to confirm that the smoke is from the tires. It is a wiser move to align the smoke with its potential cause. Is the tire smoke caused by a weak tire?

Then changing it is the best solution. Is it caused by overloading, overspeeding, or your brake system? You must understand the fault and align it with the best solution.

Fix the fault

There are multiple reasons why your tires are smoking. Now that you have discovered the cause of the tire smoking, the best thing you can do is to fix the fault.

If it is caused by old tires, change it. Do you need to fix the suspension system, get bigger tires, change the clutch, align the wheels? Whatever is the fault, fix it immediately!

How bad is burnout for your tires?

Burnouts are cool ideas, but only for racing cars. The damage of burnout depends on the tires they are done with.

The duration of the burnout also determines how bad it can be on your tires. For a regular car and tire, burnouts will not only ruin the tires but will also negatively affect the internal system of the car.

This might not pose much danger to a car specifically designed for drag racing. These cars perfectly handle burnouts, with little or no effect. However, burnouts can turn bad for your tires because they can burn your tires, and result in tire smoking.

However, you shouldn’t do burnouts on front-wheel-drive economy cars, and normal tires.

Burnouts on normal tires will also reduce the grip of the tires and this will affect its rolling resistance. More importantly, burnouts can only get worse when you do them regularly.

I will always advise that you shouldn’t make burnouts a constant activity except if you are a drag racing professional. The intensity of the burnouts should also stick to how much your tires can take.

You can go with a five – ten-second burnout and stick to a few burnouts in one minute. The lesser the heat accumulated from the burnout, the better for your tires.

How to fix smoking tires?

Change the tires

There are chances that your tires are already damaged. It is either they are damaged from smoking, or they are bad before the smoking. You must start with replacing the tires.

You should inspect your car and spot which of the tires are smoking. If you are not on a tight budget, you can proceed to change all tires. This is a safer route though.

Alternatively, you can change the affected tires. Changing only the affected tires might turn out as a tricky move. It could create an uneven treading in your car.

Inspect your brakes and clutch

Your brake system is the major component that influences the smoking of your tires. You can hire a technician to help you check your brakes if you can’t do it by yourself. You shouldn’t also leave out the clutch.

The burning smell from your cars might not be coming from your tires but the brakes and clutch. You should start from the brake caliper, rubber brake hose, or even the master cylinder.

Getting a professional to work on your brake inspection will help you achieve a thorough maintenance process.

Check your wheel alignment

When your wheels take an uneven turn, there is a tendency that the tires will rub on themselves. The tires could go as far as hitting the internal components of the car.

You can’t fix this yourself. You need a professional. Select a repairman, or your favorite mechanic store and get a proper tire and wheel alignment.

Book an appointment with a mechanic

The bottom line of fixing your smoked tires is that you might get it done, all by yourself. You need the help of a professional. Book an appointment with a mechanic and have him inspect your car.

In cases that you notice that your tires are smoking in the middle of the road, a mobile mechanic or technician is a great idea. He can get his tools down to the breakdown site and get your tires fixed properly.


You must understand that tire smoking and the smell of burning rubber could be an introduction to a bigger problem. You should treat them as signs of damage and not as petty issues.

If at the end of your diagnosis, you couldn’t figure out what is causing the tire smoking or what makes it smell like burning rubber, you consider booking an appointment with a mechanic.

Get your tires fixed, solve the problem and avert possible danger.


1 thought on “Why Is My Tire Smoking and Smells Like Burning Rubber?”

  1. We bought a 2019 Genesis 90 from Gettel Sarasota in July 2021. It had 17,000 miles and came certified.

    Last week while driving on US 41 the rear passenger tire suddenly blew. There was smoke and a burning smell.

    Gettel service department checked the alignment. We bought 4 new Continental Low Profile tires at a total cost of $1152.67. This was a buy 3, get one free “deal”.

    We remain concerned: 1. There was no obvious puncture but the tire was “destroyed” with extensive damage. 2. Mechanics could not provide adequate explanation as to why a rear passenger tire with 24,000 miles would have extensive wear on inner tire wall. 3. Internet research suggests that this type of incident might suggest other potential problems such as issues with brakes.

    Unfortunately, we have lost confidence in the dealer. We are interested in hearing from Continental to further investigate this situation and to understand what next steps you might recommend.

    Thank you for your kind assistance.


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