Mystery gas smell


My 84 year old mother has a 1996 Audi A4. This summer she took it in to the mechanic to find out why it smells like gas when she drives. The mechanics found no leaks and do not smell it (they say they just aren’t as sensitive to that smell anymore). She says it is getting worse and now has to drive with the window open. Last week the mechanic went to her house to see if there was a leak puddling onto the garage that was causing a gas smell to seep into the car. They did find a small puddle but not enough to cause as much smell as my mom experiences. Also, she says the smell gets worse while she’s driving rather than it airing out. Winter is coming to MN and I don’t know what to suggest.

So, if there was any gas at all on the floor, that’s too much. There’s a leak somewhere and it may be dripping on something hot, vaporizing and stinking up the car. And making a perfect situation for a very big fire. You need to find a new repair person who is familiar with Audis, and you need to do it now. If you look at the gray strip just under the red banner at the top of this page, you’ll see “Mechanics Files”. Click that and find a recommended mechanic near your Mom, and deal with it right now.

If he found a puddle, there is a leak. Fuel leaks are the most dangerous due to gasoline’s combustibility . This needs to be fixed right away! If he found a puddle, it should be traceable to the location of the leak. A little bit of gas makes a lot of smell. Probably a fuel line or fuel rail at the injector.

I agree with all the above. I once spilled gasoline on my hands putting fuel in the lawnmower. After cleaning my hands, the smell was still enough to bother me, especially in the car with the windows up. If they saw ANY liquid gasoline near the car, it has a leak. Gas will vaporize at room temperature, so to find a small puddle is very troubling. If they can’t find the leak, please, please try another mechanic ASAP.

Even a small amount of gasoline, particularly in an enclosed garage, will certainly cause the gasoline smell. The gasoline will evaporate quickly, so if the mechanic saw a puddle there is a leak.
I once noticed a puddle under my 1978 Oldsmobile after I came home from work. I went into the house, had a beer and then went out to examine the car. There was no puddle. The next night, I again noticed the puddle. I again went in, relaxed for a couple of minutes and then went out to tackle the car. Again, I saw no puddle and when I started the engine, I found no evidence of a fuel leak. The next evening when I came home and stopped the car, I opened the hood right away. After a few seconds, I saw a drip from the fuel pump. In those days the pump was a mechanical pump mounted on the engine.

The mechanic found a leak. What will he do about it? If he won’t work on it, then get an exact description of where the gas was found I. Relation to the parked car. You want to know what is above the puddle. Knowing that , it should be a simple fix.

Thanks for the great info. I was wrong about the puddle. It is oil. No gas smell in the garage, only when she drives. I’ll have her follow all the above leads. Thanks!

Try replacing the gas cap. If that doesn’t work, there’s either a small leak in the fuel tank, a fuel or evap line, or the evap purge valve process is malfunctioning. If the engine is hesitating on accel, consider to replace the fuel filter.

Could the smell be exhaust gas, rather than gasoline? Does Mom experience any dizziness or other symptoms from the smell? (Search here for other stories about that.) Exhaust gas can be lethal. If the mechanics drove the car I’d think they’d be able to smell exhaust, but I’d be concerned about their claim that"aren’t as sensitive to that smell anymore" on gasoline.