Why Does Gear Oil Smell So Bad? Reasons And Fix

Do you want to know what gear oil smells like and why gear oil smells so bad? Gear oil is infamous for its bad smell, but do you know why? And more importantly, do you want to know what can be done to alleviate the smell? This article will help you understand everything about gear oil, including why it smells so bad.

You can also get some solutions to help reduce gear oil smells from here. Read on to learn more about the gear oil smell and how to deal with it. Let’s begin.

Gear Oil Smell So Bad

What Does Burning Gear Oil Smell Like?

Gear oil is probably the worst smell ever created by man. Typically, gear oil smells like natural gas. But when it’s burnt, you can get an ‘acrid’ smell on the gear. This means the burning gear oil smells like it is burnt. If you change your oil frequently, your gear oil will stay energized.

Likewise, your oil will also burn because of leaks in the exhaust manifold. To stop the leak, you may need to use re-gasket valve covers. Make sure your rtv joints of gears are well. If there are any leak points, you can notice that when you clean it.

Reasons Of Gear Oil Smells so Bad:

When choosing an oil, you should consider the smell. Some oils have a more pungent smell than others. If you are sensitive to smells, select a lubricant that does not have a strong odor.

Please note that a weak-smelling oil may provide less protection for the gears. However, let’s get to know the reason below:

Chemical Composition:

Gear oil’s chemical composition is what makes it smell so bad. The oil contains a variety of compounds, including sulfur-containing molecules. These molecules are responsible for unpleasant smells.

When gear oil is heated or exposed to air, the sulfur-containing molecules break down and remove their smell. The presence of water accelerates the procedure.

Type Of Oil:

The type of oil that you use is also responsible for gear oils’ bad smell. That’s why you should consider the brand and popularity before choosing any gear oil. It’s because you can get a bad smell if you use an infamous oil brand.

Age Of Oil:

If you don’t change your gear oil frequently and because of the ages of oils, you can get a bad smell. You should change your oil regularly. Waiting to change your oil for a long time will be wrong. Also, you can get a bad smell from it.

Ambient Temperature:

Due to ambient temperature, gear oil also releases a bad smell. That means if gear oil is exposed to ambient temperature, it will be wrong and smell bad.

After all, the gear oil smell can be pretty overwhelming, but it’s not poisonous. The smell indicates to you that the oil is doing its job correctly. Also, it suggests that it can protect your gear from wear and tear.

How To Get Rid Of Gear Oil Smell?

You can do a few things to eliminate the bad smell of gear oil. Here are some tips:

  • Use Low Sulfur Content Oil

If you use low sulfate content oil, you can reduce gear oil odor. Due to Sulfur-containing molecules, you can get a bad gear oil smell.

  • Add a Smell Neutralizer

You can reduce gear oil odor by adding an odor neutralizer. These products are developed to restrain unpleasant-smelling molecules and leave a fresh scent chemically.

  • Use an Activated Carbon Filter

You can use an activated carbon filter if the gear oil smell is problematic. Actually, these filters can remove unpleasant odors from the air.

  • Taking Out From The Area

If the above procedure fails, you can remove the area where the gear oil is stored or used. It can help remove the odor and make it less noticeable. Gear oil smells bad, but you can reduce or eliminate it with these things.

Finally, a low sulfur content oil, adding a neutralizer, or using an activated carbon filter can help to reduce the smell. If all else fails, you can try venting.

What Does Differential Fluid Smell Like?

Differential fluid is one of the crucial lubrication oils vehicles use in their regular operation. Nonetheless, it is also the most forgotten fluid because it is not serviced as often as others.

So, if your fluid is dirty or past the recommended maintenance schedule, you can get a bad smell. And you can notice the differential fluid smells like dinosaur toe jam. When you get the odor, you should replace this fluid immediately.

How To Get Gear Oil Smell Out of Clothes?

In your clothes, if you smell the gear oil, it’s challenging to get rid of this smell. Fortunately, here we will discuss some ways to get out of this. Please read on.

  • Use the Washing Machine:

Accordingly, to eliminate the gear oil smell, wash your clothes in your washing machine. You can use laundry detergent to remove this smell, which is best for removing grease and fluids. Remember to read the labels to ensure your desired detergent suits your clothes.

It will be best if you use white vinegar in the wash cycle. The washing process is just adding some detergent and vinegar. Then start the cycle and get a result. For very oily clothes, you can do this job twice.

  • Use Baking Soda:

Baking soda is another excellent way to remove gear oil stains from your clothes. Mix half a cup of baking soda with one quart of warm water to use this method. Then, soak your garment in the mixture for about an hour before washing it. You can do this process if you can see the stains after washing.

  • Soak Your Clothes In Vinegar:

To remove heavy stains, you can soak them in vinegar before washing them. Just fill a tub with hot water and add a tiny white vinegar. Please put on your cloth and let it soak for half an hour. After soaking it for 30 minutes, wash your clothes in the washing machine.

  • Rinse With Water

When you see the gear oil on your cloth or skin, immediately wash the area with water. Mainly, it can help to remove the oil and stain. If you want to remove oil from your skin, use soap and water. Most importantly, if gear oil gets on your eyes, immediately flush your eyes with water.

  • Use Lemon Juice

With lemon juice, you can remove gear oil stains from your clothes. Mix half a cup of lemon juice with one quart of hot water to use this method. Use a clean cloth to apply the mixture and let it sit for about 15 minutes before washing it. After doing this process, if you can see the stain, you can repeat this process.

  • Wear Protective Clothing

Adequately, when working with gear oil, it is essential to wear protective clothing. This will help protect your skin from exposure to this gear oil.

gear oil smell

Why Does Gear Oil Turn Black?

Using gear oil will turn black. The heat from the exhaust also will help break it down. But the heat will help the gear oil turn black. But usually, your gear oil turns black if you use it for a long time or cheap oil or the wrong oil.

That means if you use cheap gear oil, it turns black fast and breaks down early. Because of using cheap oil, your gear also will be destroyed very soon. So don’t use cheap gear oil anymore.

Final Word:

On the other hand, gear oil is a necessary thing in any vehicle. Most importantly, it helps to keep your gears running smoothly. Moreover, it also works to prevent obstacles and gears from grinding against each other. But most people don’t know why gear oil smells so bad.

Usually, gear oil comes typically with a bad smell. Most people don’t like this smell, so they ask that question. This smell makes them nauseous and is challenging to get rid of even after cleaning the car. Finally, if you follow our above tips, you will reduce the gear oil smell.


I am Engr. Z Eusuf Lubricant Specialist, Mechanical Engineer & has been working with engine lubricants for a long time and knows what makes them work best. I can help you find the right oil for your needs, and I have tips on how to keep your engine running at its best.