Car Smells Like Gas

My car smells like gas on the outside by the back wheels. I have been smelling it for a few days and now tonight my check engine light came on, any suggestions on what it might be and if it’s safe to drive?

I’m reminded of a great scene in the movie iRobot - futuristic, sci-fi, robots try to take over the world sort of thing. Anyway the scene is where Will Smith (sort of rebellious cop) puts Bridget Moynahan (mainstream, conforming scientist type) on a motorcycle with him - only she’s not comfortable with this ancient technology. As they’re speeding down the road on it she says in a panicky kind of voice (paraphrase) “This thing doesn’t run on gasoline does it? Gasoline explodes you know!”

Sorry, sometimes things like that just come to mind.

Anytime you notice a smell of gasoline you should really get it checked out asap. If you have a liquid fuel leak that can be really dangerous. I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed but we seem to be under this collective hallucination that all of the good and smart and pure people of the world hate cigarettes. Well, pay attention as you go down the road. Lots of people just pretend to be “enlightened” and are closet smokers. The most common “closet” is the car. I don’t want anyone tossing lit butts at my car while its leaking gasoline. Of course, many other things in life make sparks.

On a simpler note, did you happen to check your gas cap? First, make sure its there and screwed on tightly. But also have a look at its gasket. You didn’t say what kind of a car it is, but basically the only thing in the rear will be the gas tank. If you’re smelling a strong liquid fuel smell I’d take care of it tomorrow. The filler neck is probably leaking where it meets the tank. If it smells more like gas vapor, the vapor line has probably gotten dislodged or broken. That’s less of an emergency - I’d take care of it within a few days.

Given the check engine light I’ll bet on the gas cap first, the vapor line second, and that you have a code for an evaporation system leak.

As explosive/flammable liquids go, gasoline is relatively docile, and much of the stuff you see in movies doesn’t happen in real life … very often. Still, a fuel leak – which is what you quite possibly have – needs attending to. And sooner rather than later.

I’d call ahead and make sure that whoever you are taking it to will welcome the arrival of a vehicle with a possible fuel leak. Some shops won’t touch gas tanks.

Safe to drive? Of course not. But if you were really concerned about safety you wouldn’t own a car in the first place. Ask whoever you are going to take it to what they think. If they say get it towed, get it towed.

If the garage is really near your home drive carefully without any passengers to get fixed ASAP.

Otherwise get it towed(my choice).

You Forgot To Introduce Your Car!

Please give us some basics. What make, model, year, and how many miles are on this machine?

Sometimes problems are “vehicle specific” or a reader has had similar experiences or knows of a recall, etcetera.

This might not help, but give it a shot. Talk to us.

Do you smell gasoline when the engine is running more than when the engine is shut off? If you do, it’s an engine problem (not burning all the gasoline it’s fed).
Does it happen most after you have filled up the gas tank?
Anyway, see a repair shop.