2014 Cruze unknown fumes

I’ve been frustrated with my Cruze on and off for the last 3 years. Not sure why I haven’t traded it in yet but I like the car when the smell isn’t unbearable. Three years ago, after routine maintenance I started getting gas fumes and also had my catalytic converter replaced a couple times (not sure which one as it has two) as it kept throwing up check engine light codes. Had some hoses repaired and it was drivable again but every once in awhile I started getting occasional strong fumes again right after getting gas (live in Georgia so curious about the gas here). It would make me sick but not like whatever caused me to get sick starting this past February. I started getting palpitations after about 30 minutes of driving and feel like I couldn’t breathe without rolling down the window completely. This became fairly common and I took the car to the dealer only to be told they can’t find the issue and they also couldn’t recreate the fume smell. (Around this time a local oil change place also said my car’s engine was running extremely hot.) They said to check if the fumes were from inside the cabin. I get it to the detailer but fumes still exist. Take it back to the dealer a month later, they fix a coolant leak but admit that’s not going to fix any fumes. I take it to another mechanic who says the fumes are because the oil pan gasket needed replacing. I also replace the oil and the cabin filters for extra safety. This was a month ago, and at last I feel like I can breathe in my car again and safely drive it. Then today, frustratingly, the odorless fumes returned and I had to roll the window down and felt like I couldn’t breathe. Ugh. I’ve read other threads similar to this and hate that I’m the only one impacted by these fumes but at least it’s only occurring in this particular vehicle. I used to drive a Cavalier and my wife drives a Malibu and I never had an issue. First with the gas fumes and now odorless fumes. Any recommendations or should I finally ditch the vehicle? I hate doing so since the car is in otherwise excellent shape but I’m just tired of dealing with these issues. I got a cheap carbon monoxide detector but that never showed anything. My wife has noticed a burning oil smell occasionally from outside the car but never inside. Maybe I just pay a detailer to clean the engine really good and wipe off the excess oil? Can those fumes really get into the cabin? I guess I’m going electric with my next car… Thanks for any advice.

You have a vehicle that makes you sick and you won’t replace it ?


I feel like it should be such an obvious/easy fix but if it isn’t I am at the point of replacing it. Guess that’s the only way to go.

If you notice fumes immediately after refilling the gas tank, there’s likely something wrong w/the evaporative emissions system. That’s the system that is specifically designed to stop any gasoline fumes from occurring when refilling the tank.

Consider the physics. As you pump gasoline into the tank the air and gas fumes in the tank has to have a place to go. The way it works, there’s a system of tubes from the fuel tank to the engine compartment. These allow the fumes referred to above to be pushed out of the tank as the tank is be re-filled, and go to the evaporative canister, usually located in the engine compartment. The canister has stuff inside that the gasoline sticks to, so no fumes emerge from it. The air that was in the tank however doesn’t stick, and so passes out of the canister. So when everything is working the gas fumes are then inside the canister, and the air is vented to the outside, which makes room for the new gasoline to enter the tank. The canister can only hold so much gasoline, but that problem is address by the computer when it opens a valve (often called the purge valve) next time the engine is running, allowing the engine to suck the gas fumes stuck inside the canister and into the engine, thereby emptying the canister. Voila, everything good. It’s more complicated than that, there’s other valves involved, but that’s the basic idea.

In your case there’s either a leak in the tubes between the tank and the canister, or the canister has failed, or one of the valves (possibly the purge valve) that controls this function has failed. So it is probably something simple enough to fix. The problem is that it may be quite time consuming. The shop knows you’ll likely get upset if they present you a bill for $500 - $1500 to fix it, when the parts charge is only $157, so that’s I expect why they seem reluctant to do what’s needed. Suggest you have a chat w/them about this issue, tell them you’ll guarantee payment up to a certain $$$ amount, whether they find the problem or not, and after that to phone you.

There’s a similar situation w/professional gardeners in my area. These pro-gardenerssimply will not doany work that doesn’t involve motorized equipment. They’ll mow your lawn, edge it, blow the stuff away, no problem. But if you ask they to do any hand-work, like removing weeds and grasses from your flower beds, they’ll say “sorry, we do not provide that service”. I asked one of those workers one time why not, as it seems an odd thing for a pro gardener to turn down such a task. He said it is b/c he’s found the property owners get made at him when he presents the bill, and often cancels the service completely. So to avoid this situation he just does’t accept that type of time consuming hand work.

Thanks for your thorough reply George. Makes sense to me. I’ll investigate and agree about an agreed upfront payment.

Has the car been in an accident?

There have been a couple of minor collisions (one in the back right bumper behind the gas cap) but they are both after the initial occurrence and there wasn’t any discernible difference in smells before/after.

Some people are sensitive to the off gassing of the materials used in the interior of a vehicle.


You had two problems, first you stated “gas fumes” which I assume was gasoline. Next odorless fumes which could be exhaust.

Concealed by the rear bumper cover are cabin vents that allow heater and A/C air to vent through the car. If these vents are damaged and do not close when there is negative pressure in the cabin, exhaust gas can be drawn into the car.



also you said your wife smelt oil burning. so you also have a oil leak, probably dripping on your exhaust and burning up.

If it helps any, when I turn the vents off the fumes significantly go away. So don’t believe it’s any off-gassing. I’m leaning towards another oil leak or an emissions issue.

Try a different shop. The one you use isn’t capable of finding the problem. @Nevada_545’s description looks promising. Some late model Ford Explorers, especially Police models, have exhaust fumes entering the passenger cabin from the rear. It’s certainly possible.

In addition to the mystery fumes, consider this:

A 2014 vehicle that needed to have the catalytic converter replaced even once sounds to me like an engine that has a significant problem that has never been properly diagnosed.
Twice on a 2014 vehicle?