Car smells of Gasoline in the cold weather

My subaru smells of gasoline when the temperature drops below about 24F. When it warms up the smell goes away. Last winter, when this happened I took it into the repair shop. They checked the hoses etc and couldn’t find anything wrong.

Any ideas would be appreciated.


You did not bother to tell us the model year of your Outback, but there is a known issue on some Subarus of the early 2000’s vintages with this symptom. The cause is clamps on the fuel lines that loosen slightly in very low temperatures. The dealerships are familiar with this issue, and there may actually be a recall for your vehicle as a result of this issue. Check with the dealership regarding replacement of the problem clamps.

Is it really the smell of raw gas, or partly burned exhaust fumes a cold engine makes?

The next time you smell raw gas immediately open the hood and inspect the injectors lower seals. After driving long enough to get the temperature up to normal check again and see if the seals are nearly dry and after an hour or so they are totally dry. There have been many makes and models which have occasionally shown up with that same problem. Like the NASA solid rocket seals that failed, the rubber on the injectors is somewhat temperature sensitive. I have never seen a fire from the leaks, there is never enough gas to puddle and the fumes seem to be dissipated quickly, but it would be strongly recommended that all the seals be replaced if that is the problem.

Hey all you regular mechanics! Isn’t this a common complaint?

Last year I bought a 2000 Outback Limited and it has the same problem. My mechanic tightened the screws on the fuel line clamps, but he told me this is a common problem and he knew of no permanent fix. What I’ve resorted to (and what he suggested, actually) is carrying a phillips head screwdriver in the glovebox during the winter months, and whenever I smell the gas vapors I pull over, pop the hood, and inspect the fuel line clamps for moisture. More often than not I find the culprit and tighten it. I tend to tighten all of them while I’m at it.

Good luck!

Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate it. It is a '02 subaru outback. I don’t think it is the exhaust as it smells before I start the car. I’ll take it into the dealership and ask them if changing the clamps will help.

Thanks again.