Have you noticed the smell of petrol while driving? 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


How to stop petrol vapour leaking from the petrol cap

Petrol caps are supposed to seal the fumes from the tank, but if the cap is loose, you may smell petrol. This can happen if the rubber seal is damaged or if the valve is broken. You can fix this by replacing the petrol cap.


How to fix a faulty charcoal evaporation canister 

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.


How to pinpoint a fuel leak

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 sells 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

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.


Wondering how to look after your engine? Find out here.