I am in the process of buying a new Ford Focus (7 miles on the clock). The first time I turned on the dash lit up with oil pressure warnings and the garage had to replace the Oil Pressure Switch (I believe).

I picked it up last night and within two miles I got a very strong smell of burning rubber. A little bit of trial and error makes me think it’s when I’m using the clutch or possibly decelerating (with the brakes).

The garage have told me that it’s not that uncommon and is nothing to worry about but they’ve agreed to check it anyway. They suspected it was something burning off a filter???

Is this normal with a car this new? Am I being paranoid or should I run a mile?

  • 1
    Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Good to see you here on Mech :o) Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 11:39
  • "Is this normal with a car this new?" No. But I used to live with a guy who worked for a Ford dealership, and one of his stories was a customer complaint about the oil warning light on a new car. The problem was a 3-inch-long hole in the the oil sump, which "nobody had noticed" in the pre delivery inspection. In fact nobody noticed the first time they "fixed it", after diagnosing it as low oil level. Having topped it up, a hour later the shop manager happened to walk past and wanted to know which idiot had spilled half a gallon of engine oil on the floor and not cleaned up the mess!
    – alephzero
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


You are right to be paranoid about a new (to you) car. You are getting to know your new vehicle ... you just won't know about things, so ...

With that said, I'd say it's pretty uncommon for a "brand new" car to have a smell like you describe. If it truly was a burning rubber smell, it more than likely came from a belt, but could have been a lot of little things. A filter will not get warm enough for anything to burn off of it. However, the thing is, it's a new car. It obviously burned something off. If you smelled something briefly, it was there only briefly, and you didn't see any physical smoke, I'd suggest it did what the mechanic stated happened. Whether it came from off of a filter would be suspect, but it came from somewhere, obviously.

If the mechanic took a look and didn't see anything which looked like it was going to be an issue, and if the smell doesn't come back, there's no real issue. A new car should have an adjustment period provided by the manufacturer. If there's anything within the first year which rears its ugly head you don't like, you can take it back to the dealership for adjustment. If something happens again, you still have the option.

More than likely, your new vehicle is going to be just fine, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention to what it's doing. By paying attention you're just being a good consumer and vehicle owner. You don't want your new vehicle to go up in smoke, that's for sure! My suggestion at this point is, to keep doing what you're doing: drive your car; enjoy your car; pay attention to what your car is telling you. I'll bet you and your new go buggy will have many pleasant, trouble free miles ahead of you.

  • Thank you! The mechanic is having a look tomorrow so we’ll see. I’ve smelled the smell a couple of times since so it want a one off but I’ve still only done about 30 miles. Interestingly there was no smell when I was doing 70mph but it was very strong when I slowed down to stop at the lights
    – Liath
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 12:28
  • Oh, and no smoke at all!
    – Liath
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 12:29
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    @Liath The air pressure is significantly different at 70mph and zero. Any smell would be driven off the car pretty quickly at 70; not at all at zero. Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 21:24

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