Have you noticed that your car smells of petrol while driving? Or even when the car is idling?

Is there a petrol smell inside your car? Or can you smell petrol outside your car?

In any instance, a petrol smell is a worrying sign, but in most cases, it can be remedied fairly easily.

Note: You should always check your vehicle handbook for any fault remedy before carrying out any work on your vehicle. If you are unsure of what is required to fix any problems, please consult a professional.

Why does my car smell of petrol?

If you’re wondering, “why does my car smell of petrol?”, you’re probably keen to find a remedy for the issue.

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


Locating the reason why your car smells of petrol

Locating the issue can help in establishing where the smell of petrol is coming from – is there a fuel smell in the car?


Smell of petrol in car – Why is there a smell of petrol inside my car?

If you can smell petrol inside your car, you should first check your petrol cap.


Loose or faulty petrol cap

It could be that your petrol cap is loose, or even faulty, causing a fume leakage creating the smell of petrol in the car.

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 can also cause petrol smells in car

Loose spark plugs enable gas fumes to escape.


Check spark plugs

To check if a loose spark plug is causing the petrol smell in your car, 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.

Car mechanic working on spark plugs

Smell of petrol outside car – Why does my car smell of petrol outside?

If your car smells of petrol outside, the location of the petrol smell can help to pinpoint where the issue lies.


Petrol smell at front of car

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.


Petrol smell at rear of car?

If you’re still wondering “why can I smell petrol?”, check to see if the smell is coming from the rear of the vehicle by smelling your exhaust.


How do I 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 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.


Is a charcoal evaporation canister making your car smell of petrol?

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.


How do you fix a faulty charcoal evaporation canister?

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.


How to get rid of petrol smell in car if you have a fuel leak:

If you notice a petrol smell when starting your car, or your car smells of petrol when driving, it may be a sign that you have a fuel leak.

How to pinpoint a fuel leak

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.

If the Check Engine Light on your dashboard is lit, this could also be a sign you have a fuel leak - although this can be triggered for other reasons.

If you think you have a fuel 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.

If the leak is in your fuel injection line, you’re likely to smell petrol when you’re driving and right after you’ve stopped driving. 

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 if your car smells of petrol due to a leak, the leak is not always 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.


Why does my car smell of petrol after driving? - 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 of 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.

Read about how you can look after your engine or if you're worried you might have a flooded petrol engine.

A flooded engine is a common breakdown cause that often prompts motorists to call their roadside assistance providers.- Make sure that you have suitable breakdown cover in place by getting a breakdown policy quote online today.


Buy breakdown cover


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