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Why Does My Car Smell Like Gas? Common Causes and How to Fix Them

A loose gas cap can make your car smell like gas.

It can be concerning to notice the smell of gas inside or around your car. This can leave you wondering what's causing the problem, and if your car is safe to drive.

There are a few reasons why you might smell gas inside your car. Your gas cap may be missing, may not be tightened properly, or may have a bad sealing ring. You may have a leaking fuel tank or fuel line. One of your spark plugs may be loose. You may have a faulty fuel pressure regulator. The exhaust pipes or charcoal canister may also be leaking.

Thankfully, it can be easy to track down the problem and get it fixed.

Table Of Contents [show]

    A loose gas cap can make your car smell like gas.
    A loose gas cap can make your car smell like gas.

    What Causes Gasoline Smell Inside Car?

    1. Problem With Gas Cap

    If you smell gas around your car, the gas cap is an easy first place to check.

    Your gas cap plays an important role for your car. Your fuel system has to be pressurized to work right. If you have a missing gas cap, your fuel system can't keep pressure.

    The same applies if your gas cap isn't tightened all the way. Most caps will click when they're tight. Your gas cap could also have a faulty gasket that causes it to leak fumes.

    Your check engine light will usually come on if you have a problem with your gas cap. However, the check engine light should go away shortly after tightening or replacing the faulty gas cap.

    2. Leaky Fuel Tank Or Fuel Line

    A leaky fuel tank will definitely cause a strong gas smell around your car.

    Your fuel tank is made from either metal or plastic, so it can rust or deteriorate over time. A degraded fuel tank can be hard to spot, because parts of it are not easily accessible.

    Likewise, the fuel lines that carry gasoline from your tank can fail and cause a leak.

    Most fuel lines are made from rubber, which is prone to dry out and crack. Inspecting these lines is usually easier than inspecting the tank itself, and should definitely be done if you smell gas.

    3. Loose Spark Plug

    The spark plugs are one of the most important parts of your engine.

    In order to work correctly, they must be tightened to a certain point in order to maintain a proper seal. If they are too loose, they can let gas fumes leak out into your engine compartment.

    If you have recently done a tune-up to your vehicle, check your spark plugs to make sure they are seated correctly.

    Your spark plugs also have a rubber o ring that can get cracked or damaged. Each plug should be checked occasionally to be sure that the o ring is in good condition.

    A mechanic tightening a loose spark plug.
    A mechanic tightening a loose spark plug.

    4. Faulty Fuel Pressure Regulator

    Every vehicle uses a fuel pressure regulator to control the amount of fuel that flows into the engine.

    If this regulator goes bad, then it can leak gas from its rubber diaphragm. It can also send too much gas to your engine, which can cause gas leaks from the o ring seals around your fuel injectors.

    5. Exhaust Leak

    Your exhaust system is designed to carry the burned fuel mixture out of your engine compartment and away from your vehicle.

    If you have a crack or hole in your exhaust pipes, it can allow the exhaust fumes to enter your vehicle instead of being blown away while driving.

    Your catalytic converter is another part of your exhaust that can get damaged. If you notice a rotten egg smell from your exhaust, that's a sign that it needs to be checked.

    6. Bad Or Leaking Charcoal Canister

    Most modern vehicles have a canister filled with charcoal that collects gas vapor from the gas tank and stores it to be sent to the engine when it is running.

    This canister, also known as the EVAP canister, can leak gas vapor if it fails.

    Thankfully, most vehicles have a sensor that checks this canister. Most problems with it will cause your check engine light to come on, so you will know that it needs to be checked.

    Driving with a car that smells like gas can be very uncomfortable.
    Driving with a car that smells like gas can be very uncomfortable.

    Can I Drive My Car If It Smells Like Gas?

    It's not ideal to drive your car if it has a fuel leak, and it can even be dangerous.

    Even a small leak can cause a safety issue. Not to mention it can hurt your fuel efficiency, which can end up costing you more money at the gas station.

    If the gas smell around the outside of your vehicle is very faint, you should be cautious. You need to address the problem as soon as possible, and you should drive as little as possible in the meantime.

    If the gas smell is strong, or you notice it inside of your car, you don't need to drive unless it's an emergency. Breathing gas fumes in your car can cause you to lose consciousness while driving, or even be fatal.

    Most importantly, if you notice that you have a gas leak under your car from your gas tank or fuel lines, DO NOT drive your vehicle at all. Have it towed to a local mechanic as soon as possible. A puddle of spilled gas is a serious fire hazard that can be ignited very easily.

    How Do I Get My Car To Stop Smelling Like Gas?

    The only thing to do if your car smells like gas fumes, is to find out what the problem is and fix it. Gasoline fumes are a health and fire hazard, so it is important to do this as soon as you notice the problem.

    Since working around leaking gas is dangerous, this is usually a job best left for a mechanic. Find one that you trust, and let them take care of the issue for you.

    Why Does My Car Smell Like Gas When Parked?

    Any of the causes above can cause your car to smell like gas when parked.

    A loose gas cap can be the problem. A gas leak from the tank or fuel lines may be to blame.

    Since your vehicle may often sit in the sun when parked, this can make the smell even worse. Gasoline vapors will expand when they get hot, so the warmth of the sun and your parked vehicle can make even a small leak noticeable.

    Why Does My Car Smell Like Gas When I Start It?

    If you smell gas when you start your car, this is usually caused by a problem with the fuel delivery system.

    Your fuel is only under pressure when your vehicle is running, so this is when a fuel leak will be the worst.

    If you have a leak at the fuel pressure regulator or the fuel injectors, it's more noticeable when your fuel system is under pressure.

    A bad fuel mixture will be easy to notice when you start your car too. Gas fumes are more concentrated when they're cold, so you'll notice a "rich" smell when you first crank your engine.

    A car parked in a garage that smells like gas.
    A car parked in a garage that smells like gas.

    Why Does My Car Smell Like Gas In The Garage?

    Since most garages don't have a lot of ventilation, it can be much easier to smell gasoline inside the garage than anywhere outside.

    A leak from the gas tank or gas lines can cause gas fumes to build up in the garage.

    If you smell gas in your garage, it's important to leave your garage door open to allow fresh air in.


    It's important to take it seriously if your car smells like gas. A gas leak is not only dangerous as a fire hazard, but also as a health hazard.

    Use this guide to know what to watch for if you notice an unusual fuel smell.