Why Do My Car Speakers Smell Like They Are Burning?

So you’ve recently started noticing a burning smell coming from your car speakers, and this weird case of “burning car speakers” probably has you confused and worried. 

Before you start looking for replacements, you should know that this burning car speakers’ smell is actually quite common.

What could be causing this to occur in the first place? What kind of smell should you be worried about? And are car speakers supposed to smell? These are some of the questions this article aims to address, so be sure to read till the end!

To be brief, though. Car speakers aren’t supposed to smell like they’re burning. When this occurs, it often means that you’re probably placing too much pressure on your speakers by overusing them or not using them properly. 

However, in some cases, especially when dealing with new speakers, a faint burning smell during the first few uses might be completely normal. This is because new speakers sometimes have excess glue on the driver’s voice coils, which could be burning off as the coils heat up for the first few times and causing the burning smell.

This article will look at some of the different causes of overheating voice coils since that’s the main reason your speakers might give off the notorious burning car speaker smell. 

We will also talk more about new speaker break-ins and whether a burning smell is normal after breaking in your new speakers. So, let’s get started!

Why Do My Speakers Smell Burnt?

Every speaker has a component referred to as the voice coil. It receives electrical signals from the amplifier it’s connected to and transduces these signals into sound waves transmitted into the air with the help of the speaker cone.

These voice coils are often kept in place with the speaker basket using glue. To ensure they don’t get detached too easily, some manufacturers use copious amounts of glue to keep them in place. 

When you start having heavy jamming sessions and testing the limits of such new speakers, the speaker’s voice coils can get hot or even overheat, burning the dried extra adhesives and glue on them. This is what produces the distinct burning car speaker smell.

This smell might resemble that of burnt rubber or a band-aid, depending on the kind of adhesive used by the manufacturer.

In most speakers, this phenomenon can last for the first few days of use, after which they stop smelling. However, it can last for longer with some models.

What Can Cause Voice Coils To Overheat?

Overheating voice coils is the primary reason why your speakers smell like they’re burning. But what can cause them to overheat? Let’s have a look at a few potential causes.

Listening To Audio At High Volumes

Regularly cranking up music to very high volumes can damage your speakers and cause their voice coils to overheat. 

Turning up the volume sends more electrical current into the voice coils, causing them to get hot. When the amount of current exceeds the normal limits of what the voice coils can handle, the excess energy is turned into heat. 

As the speaker continues playing, the coils can heat up to the point of causing the surrounding glue to melt, producing a burning smell.

Pairing Your Speakers Up With An Overly Powerful Amplifier

Sometimes, connecting your speakers to a powerful amplifier can also cause your speakers to smell like they’re burning. 

Just like how turning up the volume sends high levels of electrical current to your speakers, connecting a heavy amplifier can also send higher amounts of electrical energy to your speakers than they are designed to handle. And can cause voice coils to overheat.

It’s important to realize that it doesn’t actually matter if you play loud music or not; an incompatible and overpowered amplifier will always send in more current to your speakers than what they’re capable of handling. Not only can this cause your voice coils to overheat quickly, but it can even cause your speaker to blow!

Listening To Distorted Audio Through Your Speakers

Another reason why your speakers might have an unpleasant burning smell is playing distorted, badly mixed, or poorly recorded quality audio through your speakers. Such audio can cause your speakers to overheat and possibly burn excess glue.

Do All New Car Speakers Smell?

Many new speakers produce a distinct yet faint burning smell when their voice coils start heating up for the first few times. As mentioned previously, this is due to excess glue being burnt off surrounding the voice coils. 

However, not every new speaker has excess adhesives on its voice coils; therefore, not all new speakers will smell.

Ideally, for new speakers that have a copious amount of glue on their voice coils, the burning smell will only last for the early stages of use and will completely disappear once all the extra adhesives have been burnt off.

What If My Speakers Smell Like They’re Burning Even After Breaking in

If there’s a burning smell coming from your speakers even after using them for a few weeks, it could be possible that it’s not burning glue causing the smell but something else entirely.

It could be that some internal components of the speakers are burning and getting damaged. As a result of overheating and overuse, the voice coil itself could be burning up (or blown)! 

If you suspect the cause of burning is anything other than glue, you can try opening up the speakers by yourself to inspect the internals for signs of damage. If you’re not comfortable poking around in electronics, consider asking for help from a qualified professional.

Most of the time, if the internal components are fried, your only two options are either to repair your car speakers or replace them entirely.

Do Speakers Smell Like They’re Burning When Breaking In?

When speakers are new, the components inside, like the speaker basket, are usually quite stiff. This stiffness can prevent the components from producing sound effectively and accurately. 

But over time and use, the components inside start loosening up and become more dynamic. And the speakers start sounding much better overall as a result.

Essentially, during the break-in period, the speaker’s suspension loosens up. There is no way for a speaker that is in the process of “breaking in” to smell. If your speakers smell like they are burning, it could be due to issues with the speaker unit itself or incorrect usage.

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