Gasoline, though essential for operating your vehicle, doesn’t give off an inviting smell. Not to mention, the smell of gas fumes never makes someone feel safe. So, if that distinctive odor creeps up in your car, it’s best you figure out the cause as soon as possible. Here are the most common sources:
Leaking or Damaged O-Ring
As one of the most common causes of gas-like fumes, a damaged O-ring is a cheap and easy fix. To find out if this little component is the cause of your problem, open the hood and locate the oil cap. If debris and sludge have built up around the area, you’re on the right track. When the O-ring wears out, it can leak, causing engine fumes to flow into the car’s HVAC system and dissipate throughout the cabin.
While checking the O-ring, go ahead and inspect the gas cap for cracks or damage, as well. If one or both parts needs replacing, you can find what you need at any local auto parts store. Once you’ve found appropriate parts, simply discard the old ones and replace them with new substitutes.
Loose Spark Plugs
If spark plugs aren’t adequately tightened, they can leak fumes into the combustion chamber, which sits next to the HVAC intake area. To see if spark plugs are causing the fumes, remove each one, inspecting the coils and surrounding area. If the parts look clean, use a wrench to ensure each plug gets fully tightened. Once you have them properly fastened, the gas smell should go away. If it doesn’t, you need to investigate further.
Used motor oil has unburned fuel mixed with it, so if it leaks, you will smell gas fumes. Although several issues can cause oil to leak, worn out valve cover gaskets are the most notorious because they absorb the most heat sitting atop the engine. To check them, examine the exhaust manifold for obvious signs of a leak (drip marks down the side of the engine). Another sign of an oil leak involves smoke coming out of the engine as it runs. If you think it’s a leak, take the car into your trusted mechanic before it can cause more damage.
Missing Oil Cap
As one of the more dangerous options, a missing oil cap can generate more than strong gas fumes; it can create lethal amounts of carbon monoxide. To see if the cap is loose or missing, open the hood and give it a close examination. If you can’t find the missing cap in the engine compartment, have it towed to the nearest shop (driving without an oil cap is a bad idea).