Have you noticed the smell of petrol while driving? Or even when the car is idling? Either way, it's a worrying sign, but in most cases, it can be remedied fairly easily.
Why does my car smell of petrol?
There are three common reasons why your car smells of petrol:
- Petrol vapour from a leaking petrol cap
- Liquid petrol leaking from a fuel injector
- Petrol dripping from under the car/exhaust
If you can smell petrol inside your car, you should first check your petrol cap. It could be that your petrol cap is loose, or even faulty, causing a fume leakage.
If the cap is missing, do not drive before replacing it. Doing so would cause oil to be spilt all over the engine compartment, leading to bigger problems.
Loose spark plugs enable gas fumes to escape. To check if a loose spark plug is causing the issue, check that all spark plug wires or coils are in good condition, as well as the torque on the spark plugs.
As you check the wires make a note of where each one goes, to avoid putting them back in the wrong place! If you are unsure, it is best to have a mechanic do this for you.
The location of the petrol smell can help to pinpoint where the issue lies.
A petrol smell from the front end of the car is often caused by a fuel injector leak. To remedy this, a mechanic may need to replace just the seals or the entire set of fuel injectors.
To check to see if the smell of petrol is coming from the rear of the vehicle you should smell your exhaust.
Petrol caps are supposed to seal the fumes from the tank, but if the cap is loose, you may have a petrol smell in the car. This can happen if the rubber seal is damaged or if the valve is broken. You can fix this by replacing the petrol cap.
Charcoal evaporation canisters are part of your cars anti-pollution system. They are located under the bonnet.
If you can smell petrol from a canister, it is probably faulty. Some canisters are located on top of the petrol tank which makes gaining access a tricky task that normally requires removing the tank. This may well be a job for a trained professional to get rid of the fuel smell in your car.
Look under your car and check for any petrol dripping on the ground - if it's coolant and not petrol on the ground you may have a car radiator leak. Check the fuel filter, hose connections or any rubber component. Check directly above any patch of petrol.
Follow the fuel line up to the fuel injection rail
If you can't pinpoint any leak, follow the fuel line up to the fuel injection rail. Because petrol is a solvent, you'll be able to see where any leak is coming from; there will be a clean, shiny, wet area where the leak is.
You may find, for example, that one of your fuel injectors is clean and wet with petrol, while the others are grime-covered. If you suspect this is the reason your car smells of petrol, we recommend you visit your local mechanic.
Use fluorescent dye
Sometimes the leak is not immediately apparent. In this case, you could add UV dye to your petrol tank. After running the engine, the UV dye will appear where the leak is.
Smell your exhaust
Wondering, why does my car smells like gas after I drive it? Run your engine then smell your exhaust. If your car smells petrol, your engine is not running as it should. There are many possible reasons for this. Take your car for a tune-up to determine and solve the problem.