I was driving when I began smelling a burning, possibly rubber, smell and when I pulled over there was smoke coming from my passenger side rear tire well. Nothing appears to be wrong with the tire or anything out of place, but I did just pick it up from a lot where it was towed. Any suggestions on what could be going on? Thanks!

  • 7
    It could be your brake locking up. Or your parking brake was left on. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 20:07
  • 1
    Especially if you were not the last person to drive the car, could easily be the parking brake.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 20:39
  • If tow was done over rough surface or from the side, it is possible that the suspension or axle was damaged or bent, causing the tire alignment to be off. Possible rubbing on the body, suspension or wearing the tire very badly, any of which may cause a burning rubber smell.
    – john D.
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 3:48
  • Thank you both so much. I took my car to my friend's mechanic and he said the car needs an axle and struts. Not totally sure about that so I'm taking it to Midas tomorrow morning. Greatly appreciate the response. Have a great day! Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 17:29
  • Hi @SusanRolkowski! It's great that the site is helping you. I've converted your previous answer to a comment (since that seemed like what you were trying to do). It's possible that you might have a different problem with your vehicle (since this is a pretty old question). If so, please use the "Ask Question" and we'll try to help you with that as well!
    – Bob Cross
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 21:59

2 Answers 2


If the rubber burns, you wouldn't say 'possibly'. I'm sure you'd recognize a smell of a rubber, so I have to guess it is brake shoe/pad, most likely hand brake cable or shoe or slave cylinder issue, depends on a car model.. Unless you have 1000 hp engine.. ;)


If your tire was burning you'd know it, and it wouldn't stop when you stop the car. If you have a rear wheel drive car then it could be from the drivetrain, but I would bet it's the parking brake. Parking brakes usually work on the rear wheels, either with a separate set of calipers and pads, or by clamping the main brakes. It could also be a stuck brake caliper on just that side as well.

Either way you have have caused significant wear to your brake pads, possibly making them need replacement. It could also have damaged your brake rotors by wearing them down, warping them, or both.

You should really get your car to a mechanic.

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