What Do I Do If My Car Smells Like Gas?

What Do I Do If My Car Smells Like Gas?

If you smell gas at any time, you need to be quick about checking it out. The smell of gasoline is a sign of some significant issues. Also, gas fumes can cause lightheadedness and other symptoms if you do not address the issue soon. If you want to find out the initial steps to follow when you have a gas smell in your car, read below:

If your car smells like gas, your first step is to look at your check engine light. Follow this up by looking at your gas cap and look around for a sign of any active gas leaks. Turn off your car to make sure that you don’t add to the unsafe situation. 

In this article, we will be going through several common causes for this issue.  

Top Ten Reasons You Have Gas Fumes In Your Vehicle

If your question is, “why does my car smell like gas?” Check out these common issues below.

  • Loose Or Broken Gas Cap
  • Gas Tank Leak
  • Fuel Line
  • Fuel Injectors
  • Failed Pressure Regulator
  • Broken Canister 
  • Old Car
  • Dirty Air Filter
  • Bacteria and Mold
  • Exposure To Gasoline

1. Loose Or Broken Gas Cap

Typically, you can tell your cap isn’t working from looking at your check engine indicator. If you see that light signaling the need to check your engine, your first step is to look at your cap. If you have an older vehicle, there is no harm in checking your gas cover regardless.

Check to see if your cap is on. You may need to wiggle it around so it twists on properly. You can also check for any cracks. If you find anything like this, you can choose to retighten it or replace it by looking up a replacement online.  

2. Gas Tank Leak

If your car smells of gasoline, check around the area near the gas tank for any gas leaks. Look for any puddles around your tires accompanied by the smell of gas. At this point, you need to move on to check your fuel tank. 

Stop and look underneath your car to try and locate the leak. If the leak is underneath the fuel tank, you will need to contact a mechanic. Replacing a fuel tank is an incredibly advanced repair that involves removing most of the engine. 

3. Fuel Line 

As your car gets older, you have a higher chance of a rusted gas line. If you find that a gas leak comes from your fuel line, it is far more approachable for you to replace it without specialized tools. A rubberized gas line may have noticeable damage.

When replacing your fuel line, it generally comes in three pieces on your vehicle. Make sure that you siphon the gas from your car before you make any replacement. Replace all of the following lines:

  • Supply line
  • Return line
  • Vapor line

If you need a visual aid while doing this, check out the video below:

4. Fuel Injectors

Fuel injector leaks can come from a faulty fuel injection system. Most likely, you will see a failure in the rubber seal that can you can replace. If your injector’s o-ring shows signs of damage, do not return the entire injector. You will pay around $15 per o-ring to make a replacement. 

The injectors are on a fuel rail below the car’s hood. You can find the fuel rail near the tank. If you see any buildup of fuel near the injectors, that’s another sign of replacement. 

If you have a fuel injector, you will find another potential location where leaks can occur. Check for leaks along the injector’s line that can release gas fumes. This can be a cause for low fuel pressure, but it can also come from a failed pressure regulator. 

5. Failed Pressure Regulator

A failed pressure regulator will cause your fuel to burn unnecessarily. This unnecessary burning will cause your exhaust to release additional gas fumes, which can be unsafe. The excessive burning of gasoline will also reduce your fuel efficiency. 

6. Broken Canister

While your canister isn’t talked about too often, this device catches fumes and charcoal from the gas tank. It’s important to avoid toxic fumes and lightheadedness, making it essential. A failure in your charcoal canister typically comes from your car getting too old. It is also a sign of a subpar installation. 

You typically catch this when you turn on the air conditioner, as fumes can quickly come in through your ventilation if this happens. 

7. Old Cars 

Modern fuel systems mitigate most chances of dangerous gas exposures. Cars made before the 1990s use different protection measures that are out of date. You are also likely to find fuel floating in the bowl of the carburetor. That means once you turn off your old car, a small amount of gasoline smell releases. 

If you find that the gasoline smell lingers for longer than a minute or two, that means you may have a more severe issue. Old cars are more likely to have gas cap issues, aged fuel lines, and fuel tanks that need to be replaced.

8. Dirty Air Filters

When your car smells like gas, and you have already check all of the leak-related issues, that means you likely need to replace your air filters. Air filters are known to absorb many toxic fumes. If you do not include cleaning your filters as a part of your regular maintenance schedule, they will eventually absorb that gas smell. 

If the smell is vital in your cabin after turning on your air conditioner, check your air filter.

9. Mold

If you have purchased a car that has sat around for a while, you are more likely to locate the smell of gasoline. This comes from the buildup of mold and bacteria, which has absorbed the smell of fuel in these sitting cars.

This can also be caused when you turn up the AC to the highest level. The buildup of excess moisture causes mold to appear in any system. You may also check to see if your AC’s drain hose isn’t clogged up.

Some auto shops offer an antibacterial treatment that will remove the mold and bacteria from your car. You shouldn’t expect to pay anything more than $100.

10. Being Near A Gas Station Or Having Gas Spilling Over

If you have your windows down at a gas station, you are likely to smell gasoline. You can say the same if you have a small gas tank located in the back of your car. Check to see if your gas container has tipped over, spilling into the rear of your vehicle. 

In this case, rolling down your windows and waiting a few minutes will remove the smell of gasoline from your car. This is the most likely answer to the “What if my car smells like gas, but there is no leak” question.

How Do I Remove The Smell Of Gasoline From My Vehicle?

If your car is smelling like gas comes from a recent spill, start by soaking up the gasoline with rags. You can also use cat litter, which is great for absorbing odors. Once you soak up as much as possible, gas may still linger on your car’s upholstery. 

You can use a combination of baking soda, vinegar, and water can create a potent, odor-removing combination. Dip a clean rag into this solution and rub it against where the gas was poured. 

If the gasoline gets on anything you can remove from the car (or your clothing), you can remove it and place it in the wash. Try and soak your removable mats in vinegar for about an hour if they have absorbed the gasoline. 

Is It Safe To Keep Driving After I Smell Fuel In My Car?

If the inside of your car smells like gas, that means you should seek a safe location to pull over. Inhaling gas fumes can cause the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Nausea

If your car smells like gas, take the vehicle home as soon as possible. If you are affected by any of the symptoms above, pull over and call for a tow.

What If My Car Only Smells Like Gas When My AC Is On?

If you are smelling gas in your car online when the AC is on, that means that the issue is typically located in your ventilation. A gas smell in your vehicle can come from any of the problems mentioned above, but replacing your air filter will likely be higher on your list in this situation. 


The first step you follow when your car smells like gas is to stop driving it for a while. While it may cost some money to fix it now, you don’t want to know how much it will cost if you pass out behind the wheel. 

By keeping your eye open, you will quickly pinpoint any gas smell in your car. By checking the gas cap, fuel line, and fuel tank, you will have a solid early start. While fuel injection systems are more complicated, the key is to narrow down where the issues come from. 

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