Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingFuel Systems Gas Smell In Car – How To Get Rid Of It?

Gas Smell In Car – How To Get Rid Of It?

by Jordan Harris
Gas Smell In Car

Have you started sensing gas smell in car? If that is the case, then this is really unfortunate. But you shouldn’t worry because we will do everything we can to help you pinpoint the cause of this problem and quickly overcome it.

Having a situation where there is gas smell in car is not ideal. Both for your health and also for your car (you can learn more about the side-effects in our explainer on how to get gasoline out of clothes). This means that this gas smell is really harmful and you shouldn’t smell it because it could damage your health.

Being exposed to it on a single occasion when you fill up your gas tank is one thing. But being exposed to gas fumes all of the time is something that is not really ideal and this needs to be solved by your side as quickly as possible. But how to know where to look for your problem and try and solve it? Well, this is why we are here to help you out to get rid of this smell.

First, we are going to elaborate more on this smell and learn what is gas smell in car. Then we will list the most common situations that you might come across when you notice this smell. After that, we are going to move on and cover the probable causes for this problem and how to get rid of it quickly and effectively. So, if you want to learn more about this, please follow along.

What Is Gas Smell In Car?

Now before we dive into the situations in which you will start to experience gas smell in car, let’s first learn more about the basics and cover what is gas smell in car in general. I bet that there are a ton of people who are not into cars and want to learn the basic stuff. So, let’s get into it.

The gas smell is a specific smell that comes from gasoline. Every fuel smells different. Diesel fuel produces different vapors and smells and gasoline produces a different smell.

The smell of gasoline is really strong but not as unpleasant as people might think. Even though, smelling it on a day-to-day basis as you are probably in your car will find it rather annoying and you will want to learn how to get rid of gas smell in car.

But more on that later on in this article. What is important for you is to note that sometimes gas smell is completely normal. For example when you top off the fuel tank at the nearest gas station.

It is normal to smell a tiny bit of gas fumes in the next few minutes until you drive off from the station. But if this smell stays in your car then you indeed have an issue that needs to be solved before it becomes even more serious. And we are going to help you out with that first by listing the main situations when you will notice this smell in your car. So, please follow along.

Situations When You Notice Gas Smell In Car

Now let’s cover the situations that are most common when you notice the gas smell in car. If you have a problem like this, then you probably have gotten in one of these situations and you probably want to further understand why is this happening to you and your car, so let’s get into it.

1. Car Smells Like Gas When I Start It But Goes Away

The first situation that you are going to notice of gas smell in car would probably be the car smells like gas when I start it but goes away.

This is the case because your car is running rich. The car simply runs rich at startup and the engine starts producing a smell of gasoline. The air to fuel ratio is not properly adjusted, this means that there are more parts of fuel and too few parts of air. So, some of the gas ends up in your exhaust.

After a few minutes, the computer will properly adjust the air to fuel ratio and you will stop experiencing this smell. This can be attributed to the faulty heating element of the O2 sensor, bad catalytic converter (for more insight, check out our explainer on can a bad catalytic converter cause a misfire as well as the 2011 Equinox catalytic converter recall), and more. But more on this later in the article where we will elaborate on the causes of gas smell in car.

2. Gas Smell While Driving

The second situation of gas smell in car is the situation when you notice gas smell while driving. This is unfortunately a bad situation that will cause you a lot of headaches because nobody wants his car to smell like gas while driving.

This problem can be attributed to a number of things. More precisely issues with the gas cap, and the seal of the fuel pump in your gas tank. A leaky fuel line or possibly a bad leaky fuel injector.

All these things can cause you this trouble and literally ruin your day because you will be smelling the smell of gas all day while you are driving and frankly, this is not good at all. But more in-depth on the causes and how to overcome them we are going to cover later on where we will cover the gas smell in car causes in detail.

3. Car Smells Like Gas When AC Is On

Another situation is when car smells like gas when AC is on. This is probably the case because you are having a fuel leak in your car.

What happens is that when the AC is on, the engine works really hard to power up the AC compressor. Resulting in big fuel demand and the leaks become more prominent than usual.

The pressure in the fuel lines increases and you have a ton of problems like this. So, whenever this situation happens and you get gas smell in car it means that you have a problem with a leak in your system.

4. My Car Smells Like Gas But Isn’t Leaking

And the last situation that we would like to discuss is when my car smells like gas but isn’t leaking. This might be the cause of an EVAP system leak.

The EVAP is the system that redirects exhaust fumes from the gas tank into the intake of the engine. If some of the fumes are escaping from the system. You will face a problem like this.

Another thing that could cause gas smell in car and a situation like this is when you have a bad gas cap on the car and this cap basically doesn’t seal right. Now as we covered the most common situations, let’s move on to the next topic.

Can The Smell Of Gasoline Kill You

Now before we dive into the causes of gas smell in car, let’s first answer a question that bothers a ton of people out there. That is, can the smell of gasoline kill you?

The answer to this question is no. It cannot kill you literally. Mainly because you do not breathe too much gas to be killed from it.

In order for you to die, you need to ingest some lethal quantities from some product or gas like in this case. Even salt and water can kill you if you put a ton of it in your body. Everything depends on the dosage.

Gas Smell In Car

Gas smell in car is not lethal as carbon monoxide which is the gas released after the fuel burns but it is still harmful if you breathe it on a day to day basis.

So, it is often advisable for you to learn more about the causes of this gas smell in car and then move on from there and try to solve this problem. And luckily, we are going to help you out in the next chapters.

Causes For Gas Smell In Car

Now as we covered the situations when you could experience gas smell in car and we learned if gas smell is lethal or not. Now is time to dive deeper into the topic and focus more on the top causes of gas smell in car.

What could be causing this problem for you? Knowing the causes will help you diagnose the problem really fast and avoid ending up breathing this gas smell on a day-to-day basis. So, let’s get into the causes of this problem.

1. You Have Just Refueled Your Car

The first cause of the gas smell in car is the situation when you have just refueled the fuel tank and you are starting your car and all of the inside smells of gasoline. Why is this the case and why is this happening to you?

Well, it could be a few things. The first thing is that you probably forgot to tighten the fuel cap as needed in order for the fumes not to escape from the tank.

Some cars that do not have caps that are in the best shape are causing these issues more than cars that have good caps. The causes for a gas cap to go bad can be plenty.

Gas Smell In Car

There could be debris buildup on the gas cap that will not allow the gas cap to seal properly. Or possibly the plastic from which this gas cap is made has become old and basically started to disintegrate. Anything is possible. If you have a bad gas cap you can also get a check engine light and a trouble code along the way.

The most common codes for the loose gas cap are the P0455 and the P0457 code. We will elaborate more on them later when we will discuss EVAP leaks.

Another thing is that if you have been careless and you splashed some gasoline on the outside and then the fuel starts to evaporate. The more the fuel evaporates, the worse the situation will be and you will more and more experience the smell of gas.

So, when you pour fuel into your tank, make sure that you are really careful and that nothing escapes

2. Car Running Rich

The second most common cause of gas smell in car is a situation when the car is running rich. But what does this means when a car is running rich?

Well, this is a situation when you have unequal air to fuel mixture. The ideal mixture should be 14.7:1. Which are 14.7 parts of air and 1 part fuel. What happens in this situation is that you are having trouble with adjusting the fuel mixture. This means that you have more parts fuel than needed. So, the smell of gas will be evident.

The car will like to misfire and will basically release unburnt fuel into the exhaust. And this unburnt fuel will cause that gas smell in car that you want to get rid of.

This is why when you have this smell that is coming from the tailpipe, you know that the car is running rich. The problem will become even worse because it could ruin your catalytic converter and you will end up paying thousands on replacement parts.

What is worth noting is that this situation is quite often caused by bad MAF or O2 sensors. A broken fuel injector can also be the cause. You will need to perform deep troubleshooting in order to determine the right cause for gas smell in car.

3. Problems With The EVAP System

The third most common cause of the gas smell in car is a problem with your EVAP system. But what this EVAP system is in reality?

Well, the EVAP system is an emissions system that was designed to prevent this gas smell in car in the first place.

This system is designed to seal the gas tank when you tighten the gas cap and collect the evaporating vapors from the fuel tank and redirect them into the intake manifold in order to burn.

Whenever you have a problem with the gas cap, you have a problem with the EVAP system as well because this EVAP system starts from the gas cap and ends up in the intake. There are a ton of components that make this system.

Which are the gas cap, the fuel tank, charcoal canister, purge, and vent valves. All these components need to be in perfect working order if you want to have a properly working EVAP system and no vacuum leaks that will cause gas smell in car.

What can happen in most cases is that some components of this system can fail. Namely, the gas cap, the charcoal canister, as well as the hoses that redirect these fumes in the front of the car and allow the smell of gas to enter inside of your cabin and cause you a ton of trouble and a problem with the gas smell in car.

So, you should check these components in detail and make sure that everything works well and you don’t have vacuum leaks.

4. Leaks In The Fuel System

The last probable cause for this problem with gas smell in car that we would like to discuss is the situation when you have a leak in your fuel system.

Leaks are very common, especially in older cars that have old fuel lines that have been used and abused through much of their lifespan. So, they can develop a leak and cause you this smell.

There are a number of points where you can get a leak. The first probably is the clamps of the fuel tank. One clamp goes on the hose from the filler neck into the fuel tank. The second one goes from the fuel tank to the fuel filter.

Also, both clamps around the fuel filter can cause leaks as well. Especially if the fuel filter is clogged too much and the gasoline creates too much pressure that it must escape from somewhere.

Other places include random rust spots on the fuel lines or possible damage done to the fuel lines. The fuel pressure regulator is in the engine bay. A high-pressure fuel pump and injectors are also in the engine bay.

So, if you get the gas smell in car from the engine, you should check these components. But more on this in the following chapter when we will learn how to get rid of gas smell in car quickly and effectively without any big trouble.

Get Rid Of Gas Smell In Car

Now let’s get to business and focus on how to get rid of gas smell in car. What you can do about it by yourself and try to solve this issue?

Well, the first thing that you probably want to do is to locate where this smell comes from. You need to learn if this gas smell in car comes from the exhaust of the car, the gas cap, or if it comes from the engine bay or under the car.

Depending on the root cause of this problem, you will have to move on from there. Also, performing a scan with a scanner tool can tell you a lot if you have a leak in your EVAP system and a loss of vacuum. Then with a smoke machine (for more insight, check out our guide on how to get rid of smoke smell in car and how to get smoke smell out of car), you can find the cause of the smell of gas.

Another thing to note is to inspect the undercarriage of the car for possible leaks along the fuel lines and the fuel tank, you need to be sure that you don’t have leaks from the undercarriage.

And the last place to check is the engine bay and see if there are leaks from some of the injectors or possibly a bad fuel rail. Overall, that’s all when it comes to diagnosing this issue. The cost for repair really depends much on the root cause of the problem.

Car Smells Like Gas: Facts You Need to Know

  1. A car smelling like gas can be caused by exposure to gasoline fumes, gas cap issues, fuel system damage, fuel pressure regulator issues, spark plug issues, or EVAP system issues.
  2. Exposure to gas fumes is an easy fix, but it could also be a safety hazard near open flames.
  3. A loose gas cap or damaged O-ring/gasket can be quickly fixed by replacing the gas cap, and regular car inspections can avoid such minor issues.
  4. Damages to the fuel system can cause gas leaks (learn more in our guide on gas leak in car) that pose a significant safety risk and require immediate attention.
  5. Malfunctioning Fuel Pressure Regulator can cause excessive fumes and decreased fuel efficiency, which can be resolved by replacing the regulator.
  6. Spark plug issues can lead to fumes escaping the cylinder and entering the car interiors through the HVAC intake, which can be avoided through regular checks and tune-ups (to learn more, check out our guide on what is a tune-up and what does a tune-up consist of).
  7. Older cars without the EVAP system may have a faint gasoline odor, while a short or damaged EVAP system in newer cars could be the reason for the gas smell.
  8. Inhaling gasoline fumes for longer periods can be a health risk and even fatal.
  9. Driving with a leaky fuel system can worsen the problem, and it’s best to get the car towed to the shop to stop the leak and repair any damage.
  10. Regular car servicing and inspection can prevent minor issues from escalating and ensure optimal condition of the car’s fuel system.


In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the problem with gas smell in car. First, we learned the basics of this problem and how it is represented.

Then we have covered the situations that you might come across when you are experiencing a problem like this. After that, we learned the prime causes of these problems with the gas smell, and then we learned how to look to diagnose and find the root of the problem.


Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

Why Does My Car Smell Like Gas

The main cause for this smell is that you have a leak somewhere in the fuel system. As you know gasoline has a strong smell and even a few drops can make a difference and cause you a problem like this. So, you need to find the root cause for this smell and locate the problem before things get worse.

Why Do I Smell Gas In My Car

If you just filled your tank with gas, this smell is completely normal. But if you notice a smell of gas while you are driving your car then this means that you need to address this problem as soon as possible. Possibly this is caused by a minor fuel leak in the system or by a problem with the EVAP system on your vehicle.

What Causes Gas Smell In Car

In most cases, this problem is caused by a loose gas cap. In some cases this problem could be caused by a bad EVAP system, a problem with the fuel lines, or even possibly a leak in the gas tank. Even a tiny leak can make a big difference and cause you a ton of problems.

How To Get Rid Of Gas Smell In Car

The easiest way to get rid of this smell is to get a car perfume and spray the interior. Turn on the AC or if you are driving in summer crackdown your windows. But in order to get rid of this smell permanently, you will have to find the cause for this smell and make sure that you fix it.

What Does A Gas Leak Smell Like

Well, it smells like gasoline, if you haven’t been to a gas station, go there and fill up your tank, then some of the fuel will evaporate and you will sense a strong smell. This is what a gas leak smells like in a car.

How To Get Gas Smell Off Hands

Getting the smell of gas off your hands can be a tricky thing to do. Mainly because the gas smell is really strong and you will have to wash your hands more than a couple of times and a few days to pass in order for the smell to be completely gone.

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