Smell of gasoline when starting the car

When starting the car (2002 Toyota Camry XLE) with 114k miles, I noticed that I can gasoline.

I also have a rare intermittent stalling when brake & come to a stop. Earlier post:

What could cause the smell of gasoline when I start my car? Is this something that needs to be fixed or can it be ignored? Would this be something that could cause intermittent stalling when braking? After the stall happens, I’m unable to immediately start the car but it starts normally after 15 minutes. Is this the result of some flooding by the gasoline?

Always appreciate the knowledge & input from the great folks in this forum.

Fix the gas smell. Its a leak.

The gas smell could be coming from a leaking fuel injector on the engine. Or it could be coming from a leak in the evaporative emissions system. Either way, it’s dangerous and needs to be fixed.

If the leak can’t be found in the engine compartment (from a leaking fuel injector, etc) then have the evaporative emissions system smoke tested. This is done by injecting smoked into the gas tank, and seeing if it comes out the various vapor lines. A common problem is that old vapor recovery lines crack or are chewed in by mice, resulting in vapor leaks. Smoke testing the system and seeing where the smoke comes out is the only way to find those leaks.

Also, check the charcoal canister. If it’s full of liquid gas, that could also be the source of the smell. Do you routinely top off the gas tank after automatic shutoff of the pump? If so, that will eventually flood the charcoal canister with liquid gas and cause problems. If the canister is full of liquid gas it needs to be replaced, and stop topping off the tank.

Good comments above. I’ll add that it could be normal and not indicative of a problem. When you first start the car when the engine is cold the ECM enriches the mixture quite a bit to insure an easy start. Considerably ore gas is injected on cold starts. Some of it can come out the tailpipe and produce a fuel odor.

I’m assuming you’ve had all the ECM diagnostic codes read and none appear. If you haven’t done that, do so, as there may be a “rich mixture” code present, which would provide a clue to both this odor and the stalling problem.

This can’t be diagnosed via the internet of course, as it depends on how intense the odor is, and where exactly it is coming from. My early 90’s Corolla has a slight odor of gasoline when first starting in the morning and always has since it was new. Most easily noticed in the winter when it is coldest, and starting in an enclosed space, like a garage. It goes away within a minute or two. I notice it in the summer too, just not as much.

Thanks @jesmed1‌ . I don’t top off the gas task after the automatic shutoff. I’ll check this.

Thanks @GeorgeSanJose‌ .I don’t have any codes. Yes, this happens only on a cold start after the car has been overnight.

I’m so glad it is illegal for drivers to pump their own gas and illegal for attendants to add gas after automatic shut off in Oregon. It eliminates one of the OP’s possible problems.

I think you have a leaky injector. That would explain the no start condition too.

A bit of advice . . . if you do diagnose #6 injector, for example, as being faulty, I recommend replacing all 6 at once.

Since you have to remove the plenum anyways to get to the injectors, may as well do all of them

By the way, when you first started your other threads, why didn’t you mention the fuel smell?

Thanks @knfenimore‌ .
Thanks @db4690‌ . I didn’t notice the fuel smell when starting, sitting in the car with the windows closed. Someone pointed it out to me right before this thread when I started wondering if the issues could be related.

If the smell is underhood, not before startup, but after the fuel system is pressurized upon startup, indicates a leak along the fuel line between the tank and the engine.

I can’t think of any real-life scenario where replacing all the injectors is called for.

I once had an injector that was not working reliably. Stored codes indicated which one. While at the parts place inquiring about the cost of new injectors, another customer chimed in that he’d had a reluctant injector and hit it with the handle of a screwdriver and it started working again I tried the same thing and the injector has been fine since. I may have put a bottle of injector cleaner in the tank, too.

Thanks @shanonia‌ . Great tips.

Hitting the injector with a screwdriver isn’t a proper repair. If you had physically damaged it, all the injector cleaner in the world wouldn’t have helped

No offense intended to anybody

Thanks @db4690‌ .

db, I agree that it was not a proper fix, but it did confirm that the injector was sticking.
Had he damaged it…it was broke already!!!
How do we know that he didn’t even buy the new injector, but returned the part after it sat on the back seat for a month.

How many times have we heard
Tap the IAC and see if the idle goes to normal!
Tap the starter with a hammer…it may have a dead spot!

So what’s the big deal, it’s part of the steps in diagnosing some problems.
It just confirms that you are on the right track.


Thanks @Yosemite‌ .

My mechanic diagnosed this to be a coolant leak.

You said you smelled gas. Coolant does not smell like gas.

“I’m so glad it is illegal for drivers to pump their own gas…in Oregon”

Oregon & NJ have the distinction of being the only states where “full service” is the only option available at gas stations. While I can’t speak for the people in Oregon, I frequently hear people in NJ saying that it is “Illegal” to pump your own gas in NJ.


I am living proof that there are no storm troopers waiting to swarm and arrest those who take charge of the fueling process in NJ. If it was REALLY illegal, wouldn’t I have been arrested, or detained, or at least threatened with arrest sometime over the past 50 years of pumping my own gas?

Can anyone cite even one example of somebody being arrested in NJ for the heinous offense of operating a gas pump that is connected to his own car? (I will help you by saying that there are no instances of anyone ever being…ticketed…detained…or arrested because of this supposedly “illegal” action.)

In reality, I am thanked by gas attendants at least 80% of the time when I take care of the fueling process for them. I honestly think that we have become a nation of sheep who believe every random rumor that is spread via the internet.

Now…how about somebody from Oregon posting something factual regarding instances of arrest or ticketing as a result of somebody pumping his own gas in that state?

While I am not a betting man, I am willing to wager a cup of coffee that–just like in NJ–nobody has ever been arrested for pumping his own gas in Oregon.
And, if nobody is ever arrested, then is there any veracity to the claim that it is “illegal”?

@VDCdriver, yes, the NJ state legislature banned self-service fillups in 1949, and Oregon followed suit in 1951. Those laws are still on the books.

Of course, they are ridiculous laws and no NJ cop is going to waste his time arresting someone for filling his own tank. So the laws do exist, but no one bothers to enforce them, at least not in NJ.

“So the laws do exist, but no one bothers to enforce them, at least not in NJ.”

So…why do people quake with fear when I reveal that I “dare” to pump my own gas?

I would say that we have a lot of “sheep” who are unable to analyze the obvious…