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

Have you ever face the disgusting, nauseating smell of gas in your car? Maybe yes. Many people ask us that what does my car smell like gas when I start it? It’s important to consider that the gas smell in the vehicle does not refer to the good news. Because a car in good condition never produces any gas fume.

So, if your car smells like gas when you start it, that means you are most likely dealing with some internal problem or a gas leak somewhere in your vehicle. The gas smell may be coming from the exhaust system where emissions evaporate, the fuel line, or the engine itself.

Whatever the reason is, you just need to find out and repair it right away to avoid further disaster. For your convenience, we will discuss some potential reasons why your car smell like gas when you start it and how to fix them. Stay with us.


Identifying reasons for a gas smell in the car

A gas smell can produce for several reasons, but at first, you need to find out right when the vehicle releases the gas smell. A car can produce a gas odor when you start it, drive it, or park it. Here we will discuss the most obvious reasons for gas smell into the car when you start it. 

1. Loose, faulty, or missing gas cap 

Loosened, faulty, or a missed gas cap is a prime cause of gas smell in the car. If you feel smell like gas outside of the car, then first, you should check the car’s gas cap. Open the tank and check the gas cap carefully. Remember that you will not have the gas smell in the car with a faulty gas cap. You will smell gas only when you will down your window or you are outside of the vehicle. 

How to fix this problem

Just assure one thing, you should never lose the gas cap or let it loose. Besides, you must make sure that the gas cap should be in good condition. A loosen or broken gas cap release gas fumes and turn on the check engine light as a notification sign. Usually, this amazing feature comes with a new vehicle. 

2. Exterior gas exposure

The car smells like gas does not mean there is a gas leak inside the car. Sometimes anyhow, gas can be splashed on the car, or the gasoline fumes from gas station pumps can get into the vehicle if you leave open the window or doors, and causes a gas smell.

How to fix this problem

If you already have checked and cannot find out any leak, then try to think back. Maybe you just recently refill your car with gas. Roll the window down and drive for few minutes. Suppose the gas smell does not come back, no need to worry about it anymore. If the gas odor is still in your car for several days, you should search for other possible reasons. 

3. Loose spark plugs

If you do not tighten the spark plugs to the right torque, they can be loosened over time and release a gas smell in the car. The car smells like gas, and the often reason is the spark plugs are not seated properly. In this case, the engine will discharge gas fumes right into the car vents. 

The spark plugs come with washers on the threaded part to seal everything. If these washers are missing, broken, or just cracked, the gas smell can come out from them. 

How to fix this problem

Carefully check each spark plug to see their actual condition. If one or more plugs become loose, then tighten them again. Now check out the torque. Use a wrench and give them a quarter turn. You should do it for all of the spark plugs to ensure they are seated at the right torque. 

4. Faulty or broken canister

The canister is a plastic component that catches charcoal. The canister collects excess vapor going out from the fuel tank. It is an essential part of the evaporative emissions control system in the car. If the canister cracks or leaks through its damaged seal, you will get a strong gas smell in the car. 

How to fix this problem

Have a look at the check engine light. If the light is on, it may be an indication of a faulty charcoal canister. The right solution is the replacing the faulty canister. It may be a little bit tricky, so you should take your car to an expert mechanic.

5. Gas leaks

A gas leak is the most obvious reason for the gas smell in the car. If you identify a gas smell in your car, check your car carefully to find leaks. Here are several things which you should check out: 

  • Fuel tank: An old or punctured fuel tank often causes a gas leak. To solve the problem, empty the fuel tank, and let the mechanic check the empty tank thoroughly to fix or replace it. 
  • Injector: Each injector has an 0-ring located at the top and a rubber seal placed at the bottom. These components are broken by dryness quickly. You can patch up this issue by replacing the damaged seal or O-ring—no need to replace the entire injector. 
  • Fuel injection line: A leak into the fuel injection line can discharge a strong gas smell when you park your car. The fuel injection promotes higher pressure long the fuel lines. If there is any issue in fuel injection like leaks or weak fitting, the fule spread out from the various parts of the line. It creates a gas smell. 

If you can identify the problem, then as soon as possible, take your car to an expert mechanic because it is really very hazardous if the leak is near the engine or exhaust. 

  • Fuel line: The fuel lines connect the fuel tank with the engine. They are placed under the car. Hard concrete, piece of stone, debris, and different road elements can easily damage the fuel lines. As these lines are made of rubber, they are prone to leak. If you find leaks in these lines, replace them with a new one. 

6. Poor fuel pressure

Low fuel pressure is another vital cause of gas smell in the car. Fuel in the car’s system is frequently under pressure. It helps to get the necessary fuel where it needs and keeps the car run smoothly. If the fuel pressure is poor, your car will burn too much fuel, and you can smell it soon. The fuel pressure cannot be regulated correctly if the gas mixture is too much thin or rich.

How to fix this problem

The gas smell in the car is not the only sign of poor fuel pressure; fuel efficiency and weaker power are other warning symptoms of this problem. In this situation, you should take the car to the local mechanic to fix the problem. 

7. Your car is old enough

If your car is built before the 1980s or earlier, it might smell like gas when you start or shut it off. Because at that time manufacturer used some specific technology in the carburetor and float bowl. Besides, these older cars do not have a built-in robust evaporative-emissions system. 

In that case, there is nothing you or even a mechanic can do. This problem is not fixable. Hopefully, the gas smell will go away after a few minutes of running the car, and there is nothing to worry about.

Wrapping up

After reading this article, we hope you get enough information about why your car smells like gas when you start it and how to fix it. If you still have a question about this topic or want to learn more about car maintenance tips, please feel free and leave your question in our comment box. Our expert team is ready to answer you. All the best!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why does my car smell like gas but no leak?

The prime reason for a gas smell in the car is a fuel line leak. Maybe there is no leak in the gas tank, but the leaks can be elsewhere in the fuel delivery system, and that causing the gas smell.

What does a fuel leak look like?

It is an easy job to find out the fuel tank leaking. You just have to crawl under the car and search for wet spots or marks on the fuel tank. If there are leaks in the fuel tank, then you repair it as soon as possible or better to replace it. 

Is it dangerous to drive a car that smells like gas?

Yes, a gas leak in the car can be dangerous to drive with because its smells can bother your breath, it is flammable, and creates a slick surface on the road for other drivers. You must know that gas is very flammable, and there is a potential risk of injury, burns, and other disasters. 

What is the burning smell in my car?

There are various reasons for the burning smell in the car. The plastic bag can stick in the engine and create a burning smell, or even sometimes the heater core melt itself and causes a burning smell. 

How much does it cost to fix a gas leak in your car?

Fixing a gas leak in the car is a simple task, and it may cost between $60 to $120 approximately.

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