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Why Does My Car Smell Like Gas?

Close-up of hand pumping gas into a blue car.

Gas capDoes your car smell like gas? If so, it needs immediate attention. Gas is flammable, and so are the fumes, so noticing a gas smell is something to take seriously. Here’s what to do and some potential answers to the question, “Why does my car smell like gas?”

You Just Filled the Tank

Gasoline has a strong smell, and it tends to linger. If you just filled your car and can smell gas as you’re driving away, it may be nothing more than a little vapor that found its way into the car. It could also be on your hands or your shoes. The smell will likely dissipate quickly if this is the problem.

Loose Gas Cap

If your gas cap isn’t secure, you may smell gas. This is another one to check if you just drove out of the gas station. If the cap is secure and there’s still a gas smell from the area, you may need a new gas cap. Note that a loose gas cap can cause your check engine light to come on in addition to producing a gas smell.

Fuel Injector Leaks

If you’re asking, “Why does the car smell like gas?” when you first start the engine, it could be a sign of a clogged fuel injector. There may also be a leak in the rubber seals around the fuel injector, which will produce a gas smell. Have the injectors checked to see if you need the seals replaced and the injectors, too.

Fuel Tank Damage

This is more common in cars from the early 1980s or older since they had metal fuel tanks prone to rust. These tanks are also more easily punctured, which can cause a fuel leak. Newer vehicles have plastic tanks, but they aren’t immune from issues. Plastic tanks can still leak over time. If you smell gas and see a stain on the ground beneath your fuel tank, have it checked immediately.

Fuel Line Leaks

The fuel lines deliver gas from the fuel tank to your engine. These metal and rubber lines can wear over time. When that happens, you’ll smell the gas that’s slowly leaking out. This is quite dangerous as your engine is hot and you don’t want gas dripping on hot metal where it can catch fire. Have it checked promptly.

These are a few of the reasons why it may smell like gas in your car. Take quick action to have the source of the smell identified and repaired so you don’t risk that leaking gas starting a fire.

Check out all the fuel tank repair products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about why your car smells like gas, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy Flickr.


Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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