Car Smells Like Gas: Top 10 Common Reasons!

Many people ask: “Why does my car smell like gas?” If you have the same question, here is the right place for you. In this article, we will show you some potential reasons why a car smells like gas and how to fix them. Let’s check it out!

A car in good condition does not produce any smell like gas fumes. So if you find out that your car smells like gas when parked, it seems like there are some internal problems happening with your vehicle. And these problems need to be repaired right away. 

Car Smells Like Gas – What Are The Reasons?

Car Smells Like Gas Inside My Cabin

Without a doubt, car smells like gas issues are dangerous and annoying. As we all understand, your car uses gasoline as the fuel to drive. Car owners pump in liquid gas in order for the engine to work. With controlled explosions and explosive vapor, the engine moves the vehicle. 

And this is where your issue is. Any step leading to the process of fuel-exploding can have a problem. To make it short, if there is anything wrong in the process of gas vapor, you can smell gas inside immediately. 

We recommend drivers to find the problem by themselves. It not only helps you gain more knowledge about your dear cars, but also save some time and money at the mechanics shop. You might not have to go to the car shop at all if you can fix that solution by yourself. 

Car Smells Like Gas When I Start It But it Goes Away

This case is actually quite common. If a driver’s car smells like gas when started, then there might be a gas leak somewhere around the automobile. This may be coming from the fuel line, engine or the exhaust system where gas emissions evaporate. 

So without further explanation, here are the top 10 reasons why your car smells like gas.

The Reasons Why Car Smells like Gas

1. Gas Cap

When you find out your car smells like gas after driving, an important thing to check out is the car’s gas cap. After opening the tank, you have to check the gas cap carefully, making sure that you never lose it or let it loose.

smell of gas in car
A loosen gas cap can cause your car smells like gas. Photo Source: Pexels

Additionally, you also need to make sure that the gas cap is still in good condition when your car smells like gas when starting. A broken or loose gas cap can release gas fumes and turn the check engine light on for new vehicles. 

Thanks to the amazing technology behind the check engine indicator, nowadays the car can identify leaks within by a self-test. However, we will guide you through the way to troubleshoot this issue, as well as the solution. 

The first step you should take is checking to see if the gas cap is on or not. Many drivers forgot to put it back on after filling up. In other cases, the gas station staff forgot to put it back. Remember to give it a twist clockwise in order to see if it is tight or not. 

And if it is fully tightened, you should take it off and check it thoroughly. However, if the O-ring is missing, broken, flat or cracked, you need to replace the gas cap. 

2. Gas Exposure

The reason to think about when a car smells like gas but no leaks is gas exposure. Sometimes, gasoline fumes from gas stations’ pumps can get into your car if you let the car doors or windows open, causing gas smell. 

To get rid of this problem, all you need to do is roll down the windows and drive for a few minutes. 

If the gas odor does not come back, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. If it still stays in your car for several days, you should look for other reasons below.

3. Broken Canister

Canister is a plastic component containing charcoal. Canister also collects excess vapor going out from the fuel tank to minimize emission exiting the system. 

If the canister leaks or cracks through its damaged vent or seal, you will smell a strong gas fume in your car. That can make the check engine light turn on, and the car smells like gas but no leaks.

If you have a broken charcoal canister, your car will release the fuel vapors, and you can easily smell it from the inside of the automobile. There might be engine lights turning on as well. 

Another common way to troubleshoot this issue is the pinging sound. If your car has the cracked charcoal canister, it will decrease performance and smell stronger emissions than normal. 

gas smell in car
You will smell a strong gas fume in your car if the canister is broken. (Photo: r32skylines)

4. An Oil Leak

Oil leak is also one of the reasons why your car smells like gas. The mixture between oil and gas hits a hot surface, burns and releases the gas smell. In order to check this symptom, open the hood and use the flashlight to take a closer look. 

If you spot any wet, dark, oily spots on the engine, there is a high chance that this could be oil. If you park the car overnight, you might even find an oil leak by checking underneath.

And if you need a specific place to check, it is the valve cover gaskets. Usually, they are right above the exhaust manifold at the top of the car’s engine. This place produces most of the heat, so if you smell gas, there is a high chance that oil is leaking here.

The right solution for this issue is to replace a gasket, a part, an O-ring or tighten an object in order to find the source of the leak.

5. Exhaust Fumes

Another symptom is the exhaust fumes. When you accelerate the automobile, the burning gas will create these fumes. Usually, these fumes will be pumped out to the exhaust pipe. 

On the bright side, drivers now know where to start looking. If you are already familiar with your vehicle sound, you can notice a louder exhaust noise. A leaky exhaust will make a tapping noise when you accelerate. 

The louder the ticking noise, the closer that the leak is to the engine. Car owners can also put a towel over the tailpipe and hold it. As the car idles, you need to see if the towel builds up with pressure. If there is nothing, you are having a leak. 

The bad news is, you cannot fix this issue on your own. This leaky tailpipe must be solved by a professional.

6. Gas Leaks

smelling gas when starting car
Gas leaks is the answer for the question “Why does my car smell like gas?. (Photo Source: Pexels)

Gas leaks are another reason causing car smells like gas inside. You can check whether your car has gas leaks or not by looking for black puddles underneath the car. The first thing car owners can notice is the fuel gauge. It is dipping much faster than normal. 

And if the level of fuel goes down overnight, that is a pretty clear sign. Another way to check is to idle the car to spot a multicolored puddle underneath.

Assuming that you knew the oil leak and gas leak symptoms, this is a way to tell which is which. The gas leak will have a stronger smell of gas than oil leak.  

If the car has black puddles, you might have problems in the fuel tank, injector, fuel line or may be injection line. Here are some several things for you to check out:

Fuel Tank

Punctured or old fuel tanks often cause gas leaks. The best way to fix this problem is to remove the tank totally. By doing that, the mechanic can check it thoroughly for fixing or replacement.

Additionally, a leak in the fuel tank vent hose can produce un-burned gas coming out of the fuel system and changing into mist or vapor. 

Thus, to keep everyone safe, you have to let the professional mechanic fix the gas leaks immediately as gas puddles and gas fumes can cause fire.

why does my car smell like gas inside
Punctured or old fuel tanks often cause gas leaks. (Photo: Chevy Hardcore)


Injector leaks are caused from their o-ring seal or rubber. Every injectors has rubber seals placed at the bottom and an o-ring located at the top. These components are prone to be broken by dryness. 

To fix this problem, you just need to replace the damaged o-ring or seal. You don’t need to replace the whole injector. But first, when inspecting the injector condition, you have to open the car hood and check the injector in the fuel rail.

Turn the engine on. If you find out that fuel is stored around the injector, it will be the reason your car smells like gas.

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Fuel – Injection Line

A leak in the fuel injection line can cause a strong gas smell once you park your car. The function of fuel injection is promoting higher pressure along the fuel lines. In new cars, the pressure is from 60 psi to 125 psi. 

If there is any problem in fuel injection such as weak fitting, the fuel will spread out from different parts of the line. This leads to mist and vapor which create gas smell. Actually this is very hazardous if the leak is near the exhaust or engine. 

Additionally, gas mist is very dangerous for health. If a person breathes in gas fumes, he will suffer dizziness or headaches, finally leading to brain damage in the long-term if these leaks are not fixed immediately.

Fuel Line

Fuel lines connect the fuel tank and the engine. They are found underneath cars. Debris and different elements along the road can easily crush fuel lines. 

Ones which are made of rubber are prone to leaks when they are used for several years or are broken by a clumsy mechanic.

my car smells like gas but isn't leaking
Debris and different elements along the road can easily crush fuel lines. (Photo: Jeepcommander)

7. Bad Fuel Pressure

Bad fuel pressure is one of the potential reasons why car smells like gas. A failed pressure regulator can cause your car to burn fuel until the mixture gets too rich or too thin. 

Burning more fuel may cause gas fumes inside the exhaust. Gas fumes will also come inside the car if a leak makes the exhaust enter the ventilation system.

In this case, a gas-smelling cabin is not the only symptom of fuel pressure regulators failing. Another warning sign is weaker power and fuel efficiency. Sadly, this is another problem that cannot be fixed by yourself.

8. Old Cars

Vehicles made in the early 1980s or earlier are likely to release a faint odor of gasoline after shut off. It happens because of the fuel after boiling in the float bowl of the carburetor. 

It is completely normal if you notice the odor only after shutting the car off and it dissipates after a while. Newer models don’t have this issue because they have a built-in evaporative-emissions system.

9. Loose Spark Plugs

If you are wondering, the spark plugs could have loosened after a long driving time. And if the sealing ring around the spark plugs are not seated right, it is pretty clear that your vehicle smells like gas. 

To be more specific, the spark plugs will have washers on the threaded part. However, if these parts are missing or cracked, the gas smell will rise.

inside of car smells like gas
If the spark plug’s parts are missing or cracked, the gas smell will rise. (Photo: AutoDeal)

So if you checked all of the above problems, you need to check the spark plugs. In case they are broken, drivers need to remove each one carefully. 

And remember to note their original place, since the car will not start if you messed up the order. If there is nothing wrong, you should check the torque.

10. Exterior Gas Spill

Last but certainly not least, exterior gas spill. This means that you have gas splashed on the car recently. The good news is that there is no gas leak anywhere. 

When is the last time you fill your gas tank? If it is just recently, roll the windows down and drive normally. If the smell is still there, then it is not an exterior gas spill.

The right way to fix this is to use old towels with the purpose of soaking up as much of the gas as you can. Car owners can mix baking soda, white vinegar as well as hot water. Then, rub the mixture in the spilled area in order to neutralize the odor.

Is it Safe to Keep Driving if I Smell Gas?

The answer for most cases, it is not. If they are just simple issues, your car will not catch fire or explode. However, it is impossible to know how serious the problem is until you troubleshoot thoroughly. 

Not to mention, the gas fumes are toxic. Breathing them will poison you and other people. So you need to check for a leak as soon as you can.

Check out the video from Scotty Kilmer below to learn more about the reasons for a gas smell in car more visually!


Hopefully after reading our article, you get useful information about the reasons behind fuel smell in cars and know how to fix it. If you have any questions about this topic or want to know any car maintenance tip, feel free to leave us a comment below. We will answer your question in the next article.

Have a safe drive!