Blog Car Care Advice 9 Reasons Your Car Smells Like Gas (+ What to Do About It)
Car Care Advice

9 Reasons Your Car Smells Like Gas (+ What to Do About It)

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Feeling concerned that your car smells like gasoline?
The smell of gas can be unpleasant and may indicate significant problems for your car — like a gas leak or a faulty EVAP canister.

Don’t panic. 

In this article, we’ll go through 9 reasons why your car smells like gas, ways to get rid of the smell, and how to prevent the smell altogether. 

Let’s get started.

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Let’s get started.

9 Urgent Reasons Your Car Smells Like Gas

There are various reasons your car might smell like gasoline. 
Let’s look at nine possible causes behind the smell and what to do about it:

1. You Have A Gas Leak

A gas puddle under your car usually indicates a gas leak from a component of your fuel system, like: 

A rapid drop in your fuel gauge reading can also indicate gas leakage. 
If ignored, gas leakage can cause vehicle fires

What To Do About It:
Don’t drive with a fuel leak — have your car towed or call your mechanic

Your mechanic may be able to patch a small fuel system leak. However, a more significant leak could result in serious problems that may take longer to fix.

2. Issues With Your Gas Cap   

Do you smell gas when you start your car?
Your gas cap may be missing, loose, or damaged — causing gas vapor to escape from your gas tank.

This means if you have a loose gas cap, gasoline fumes can enter the inside of your vehicle. In this case, your check engine light will pop on to alert you that the pressure in your gas tank isn’t maintained.

What To Do About It: 
It’s inexpensive and easy to replace a cracked gas cap. You can use a cloth to close the filler neck to prevent the splashing and evaporation of gas vapor if you lose your gas cap. This can be a temporary measure until you get a replacement.    

If your car displays an illuminated check engine light, your mechanic may use a scan tool to find the reason behind the check engine light. It may show codes like:

These codes will help your mechanic choose the best way to fix your car.

3. Your Spark Plugs Might Be Loose

A spark plug delivers the spark that ignites the fuel-air mixture to start your vehicle. If your spark plugs aren’t fitted snugly, combustion chamber fumes will leak into the engine compartment next to your ventilation system.

What To Do About It:
You may require a spark plug tune-up. If there’s oil on your spark plugs, ensure your mechanic resolves the oil leak before replacing them.

4. You Might Have Problems With Your Fuel Pressure Regulator 

A failed fuel pressure regulator causes your fuel mixture to be too thick or too thin. 

If your engine burns too much gas, it’ll cause your catalytic converter to overheat. This will increase the gas fume volume coming from your exhaust. These fumes will then make their way into your ventilation system. 

Moreover, a faulty fuel pressure regulator may cause engine misfires, reduced fuel efficiency, and low engine power. 

What To Do About It:
Have a professional mechanic replace your fuel pressure regulator. 

5. You Just Refueled

If the smell is because you just came from the gas station, the gas odor should disappear after a while.

The gas odor can make its way into your vehicle after a refueling visit at a gas station. You might’ve also stepped in a gas puddle or spilled a bit on your hands or clothes without realizing it. 

NOTE: The smell from gasoline spills can linger, but it’s also essential to check if your fuel pump might be dripping. 

What To Do About It:
If you can’t find the source after checking everything, try to think back. 

Were you recently at the gas station to fill up on petrol, and now you have a gas fume car smell? 
If so, roll down the window and drive for a little bit. 

However, you must act fast if the spill comes from a filled portable gas container in your vehicle.   

Here’s what you can do:

6. You Have A Faulty Oil Cap Gasket Or O-ring

Inspect the area around your oil cap — if you spot oil stains and dirt on the valve cover, the O-ring may be old or leaking. Here, the gasoline you’re smelling is the fumes from the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system (HVAC) entering the car’s cabin.

You may also smell gas if your O-ring is damaged or cracked.

What To Do About It:
Inspect your oil cap rubber gasket for cracks or debris. To remove any dirt, clean the oil cap before putting it back.

However, you’ll need to get a new oil cap if there is a break. A damaged oil gasket may be easy to replace, but it’s best to have professionals handle all vehicle repairs.

7. Exhaust Fumes Are Getting Into Your Car

Exhaust fumes result from gas burning when your car accelerates. These fumes are supposed to get pumped away from your vehicle through the exhaust pipe.

Typically, your catalytic converter scrubs the exhaust and purifies the smell it emits. 

So if you smell gas, it could indicate an exhaust leak. A leaky exhaust is louder than usual or makes a tapping noise while your car accelerates. The louder the ticking noise, the closer the exhaust leak is to your engine. 

What To Do About It:
You shouldn’t delay exhaust repairs. Contact a trustworthy mechanic to service your car ASAP.

8. Your Charcoal Canister Is Faulty 

The EVAP system traps gasoline vapor inside a charcoal canister. A broken charcoal canister may let fuel vapor enter your car’s cabin.

A faulty charcoal canister can be a cracked charcoal canister or one with a shorted valve circuit.  

What To Do About It:
If you notice a strong emission smell, hear a pinging sound, and have reduced performance, it might indicate a faulty charcoal canister. Take your car to your mechanic to replace the charcoal canister.

9. You Have An Old Car

The technology used in the carburetor and float bowl of cars built before the mid-’80s can cause them to smell like gas when you start and shut your car. 

Additionally, pre owned vehicles may not have a powerful built-in evaporative-emissions system like new vehicles. This causes gasoline vapor to enter your car easily.

What To Do About It:
This problem may not have a direct solution — as there might not be a workaround for an older emissions system. Vintage pre owned vehicles are tricky to service. However, there’s no problem if the gasoline smell goes away after a short while.

On the bright side, if the gas smell is because of a loose gas cap, it should be easy to replace. 

Now that we know where a gas-tainted car smell comes from, let’s learn how to eliminate it. 

What To Do When You First Detect A Gas Smell

Whether the smell comes from the inside or outside of your car, here’s what you should do:

1. From The Inside

Inhaling gasoline can be deadly. 

If you have a fuel smell inside your vehicle, immediately turn off the heat or air conditioner, and get your car checked out.

2. On The Outside

If the fuel smell is outside your vehicle, track down the source by following the smell. An undiagnosed fuel leak can lead to a risky situation. You’ll need a professional to check your fuel lines, fuel injectors, and fuel filter for leaks.

Warning: Gasoline fumes contain methane and create carbon monoxide when burned. A slight gasoline smell may only give you headaches, but consistent exposure could lead to serious health problems. 

If you want to avoid dealing with the gas smell, let’s discuss ways to prevent your vehicle from smelling like petrol in the first place. 

How To Prevent The Smell Of Gas In Cars

Even new vehicles need proper car maintenance to prevent most of the causes mentioned above. Servicing your vehicle every 12,000 miles ensures you catch car problems before they become expensive repairs.

Additionally, here are some surefire ways to prevent your car from smelling like gas:

Wrapping Up

Smelling gas is a safety hazard you cannot ignore. If you get a whiff of gasoline in your vehicle and it goes away, no problem. 

But if you’re constantly smelling gas, call AutoNation Mobile Service immediately! 

Our mobile mechanics are available seven days a week and perform repairs directly in your driveway. At AutoNation Mobile Service, we also offer upfront pricing and a 12-Month, 12,000-Mile warranty on all our repairs. 

Contact us today, and our expert mechanics will diagnose anything from a worn-out fuel line, damaged fuel pump, or faulty fuel injectors — and repair your vehicle in no time.