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Gasoline smell

Hi Guys

My mother has a 98 Lexus which she has very few problems with. Recently on two separate occasions there was a very strong odor of gas in the car. It was so bad that she had to pull over. I told her not to drive it and I came and picked it up and took it to my mechanic (Who I have been going to for 30 years) He check over the car but could not find a leak or any signs of gas. The next day the car was fine. The second occasion happen much the same way but she got the car home. Again the smell was so bad she had to leave the car out of the garage. The next day the smell was gone and our mechanic could not find anything wrong. The only thing that has happened to the car before the gas smell was she was involved in an accident where she was stopped and hit from behind with extensive damage to the rear of the car. At 92 (and still a good driver) she is very active but now is concerned about picking up her friends for their social gatherings fearing the smell could come back at anytime. Any thoughts

Bob Saraceno


Did your mechanic thoroughly insoect the area concerned with the prior collision?

It seems (according to your post) that the gas smell (leak) only occurs when fuel is drawn from the tank (engine running).

Have a look at the fuel pressure regulator to see if it is leaking. Remove the vacuum hose to it. If fuel runs out, replace the regulator.

Is there any particular area where the gas smell is strongest?

Don’t forget that any slight breeze will push the smell, so you don’t want to serch from the down-wind side.

Is it associated with filling up the car?

Overfilling the gas tank, Click; click; to get in the maximum amount of gas is often linked with this gassy smell. We are not saying that is the case, it’s just another thing to eliminate right away if it is not the problem.

Did you open the hood, with the engine running, and sniff for gasoline fumes? Was the odor that of gasoline, or of another substance?
Fill the gas tank, and see if the gasoline smell comes back.

I have the same problem with my 97 Lexus ES300. The problem occurs only intermittently – often going months without any sign of it. The problem is not related to filling the tank, although it is possible that it occurs only when the tank is low. Mechanics have been unable to find any leak. Another website suggested it could be the EVAP cannister. However, the Check Engine light does not come on, which apparently means that this is also not the problem. I am desperate for an answer. Any suggestions???

Jerry, the canister could be the source of the smell even if you have no codes. If the canister has gas in it that does not automatically mean the charcoal bed is saturated. The light will only be tripped if the purge valve is malfunctioning or if inability to breath on creates too much vacuum in the tank. There can be gas in the charcoal bed without the light tripping.

To the OP, unfortunately gas is highly aeromatic, it evaporates and disappears. Did these incidents have any relationships to filling with gas? I’m wondering of she stepped in a wetted spot next to the pump. Been there, done that.

MB, Jerry dug up a 6 month old post, so the original is likely to have been sorted out. Too bad we didn’t get a resolution.

Jerry, good on you for searching! Too bad there wasn’t a solution already, but we can press on from here. Normally we ask that you hit the big red button and start a new thread.

What??? Nice catch, chassios.

People, please don’t dig up old posts like this unless it’s relevant to a question you have about a current problem. Here I am trying to help someone who has long ago disappeared.

My car had an occasional gasoline smell that I couldn’t figure out for a while. Eventually the check engine light came on showing a rich condition. I had the fuel pressure tested and the static pressure was high. The fuel pump had a defect causing excessive pressure. There wasn’t a well-defined leak that I could see, but the excessive fuel pressure was pushing a small amount of fuel out somewhere and causing the smell. If you have access to a scan tool, you might check the fuel trim. If it’s a high negative number that might indicate high fuel pressure and a vaguely-defined leak.