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Quite often I encounter a vehicle that has exhaust with rather sharp smell similar to perfume. As far as I know this is attributed to the engine malfunctioning - normally working engine will exhaust gases without sharp smells.

What exactly causes the gasoline engine to produce exhaust with sharp perfume-like smell?

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I have to admit that I read your question wrong at first. It read in my head as a proposal for a new perfume for ladies that would like to attract the attention of a motorhead. "Is that Eau de Racetrack?" ;-) – Bob Cross May 11 '11 at 16:37
Wasn't it Harley-Davidson that did that one @Bob? :-) – Rory Alsop May 11 '11 at 20:08
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Most of the perfumes I know have a lot of carbon content (Alcohol based). So if I am to take a quick guess, this might be unburnt fuel being pumped out in gaseous form, a precursor to blackening of your tail pipes.

Or your vehicle might just be wooing the beetle behind - who knows? :)

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If it's a sweet smell it might be antifreeze, although you'd usually get white smoke as well.

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Emm.. How would antifreeze get into exhaust I wonder? – sharptooth May 30 '11 at 6:53
From memory, I believe a leaking head gasket would allow coolant into the combustion chamber which would then make its way into the exhaust. – ManiacZX Jun 1 '11 at 23:35

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