How To Tell If Your Car Is Leaking Gas: Signs And Symptoms (2023)

Do you have a fuel smell coming from your car and you’re thinking you might have a gas leak?

There are a few ways to tell if your car is leaking gas. If there’s a distinctive smell of gasoline while driving or even while your car is parked, there’s a good chance it could mean your car is leaking gas. Another indicator is if the “check engine light” is on.

While that gasoline smell could mean that your vehicle may very well have a leak, it could be something less serious. Either way, this guide will help you tell if your car is leaking gas or not and spot some possible causes if you are, so keep reading!

Table of Contents

What Are The Symptoms Of A Gas Leak In Your Car?

When you are unsure whether your car’s fuel tank is leaking gas or not, here are some things to look for to confirm your suspicions:

Check Engine Light

If your engine light is on, at a minimum it could be something simple like your gas cap being loose, a failed sensor, or bad wiring. At the worst, it could mean there is a bigger engine problem.

If your car is running well, it might be tempting to assume nothing is wrong and keep driving. However, if you do that, then more car problems could pile up over time.

So, if you have an engine light on and you smell gas vapors, then it’s definitely a good idea to get your car examined by a professional mechanic at the nearest repair shop.

It could be something minor that can be easily fixed, but it could also be a major issue – especially if you smell gas.

Either way, an engine light lighting up is not something you can ignore.

Gas Smell

This might be an obvious one, but if you’re constantly smelling gas, you might have a leak. However, don’t jump to conclusions just yet.

Here are some things to consider when you smell gas:

Not So Serious Sign Of A Gas Smell

Before you freak out thinking that your car is leaking gas, check your car’s gas cap. The smell could simply be gasoline vapor from either a missing gas cap or one that hasn’t been put in correctly.

When your gas cap isn’t sealing your car’s fuel filler pipe correctly, you will start to smell the vapor of gas. The smell can be pretty intense and overwhelming, but it’s not a serious issue and the fix is very simple..

Try checking to be sure the gas cap isn’t cross-threaded, or tightening the gas cap, or getting a new gas cap (you can order one online).

Gas Smells in Older Vehicles

According to Popular Mechanics, vehicles made in the early 1980s will typically release a slight gas odor after being shut off. However, newer cars should not produce this smell after shut off because they are equipped with an emission system that gets rid of the odor.

If your gas cap is working correctly and you don’t have an old car from the early 1980s, then you can rule out these two not so serious possibilities of the gas smell.

The next step is to look for gas drippings and gas puddles underneath the car to confirm if your vehicle is leaking.

Gas Drippings

The first thing you want to do is find out where your vehicle’s gas tank is located. Look beneath the bumper of the car, and inspect the ground below your tank.

If there is a gas leak, you might see wet spots or a puddle on the garage floor underneath your car where the gas is leaking out.

A small gas leak in the engine compartment is not going to drip on the ground. Even if it does, the gas will evaporate quickly, so if there is a leak, you might not see any puddles.

How Can I Tell Where My Gas Tank Is Leaking?

First, you’ll want to look for signs of a gas leak. This could include a smell of gasoline around your car, or spotting any liquid near your fuel tank and underneath your vehicle.

You may even be able to see the gasoline coming out of the tank if the leak is bad enough.

Places to look underneath the car are:

  • Gas tank
  • Carburetor/throttle body
  • Carburetor or fuel injection system
  • Fuel pipes
  • The injection system

If you don’t see puddles of gas in your parking spot, that doesn’t mean there is no leak, though. Feel around the underside of the car or use a flashlight to examine the vehicle and check for any signs of moisture underneath.

Drop In Gas Levels

Still can’t find any signs of leaking? You can also tell if your car has a leak by measuring the change in its fuel levels.

Depending on the size of the area causing the leak, it might take some time to conduct this test.

  1. Observe your fuel gauge.
  2. Take note of the gas level (i.e., piece paper, notepad on the phone, or mentally) before you park your car.
  3. After you leave your car stationary for an hour or so, come back and check the gas gauge once more.

If you don’t have time to do this test during the day, then you can wait until the day is over, park your car, and check the fuel level the next morning. The goal is to have your car idle and observe if any fuel has leaked out over time.

If there is no leakage, then the gas gauge should be at the same level it was before you parked it. However, if your vehicle is, in fact, leaking, it will show that you have less gas in your tank.

What Causes A Fuel Leak?

Wear and tear is natural in car parts as it is with everything else. Fuel tanks rot, get old, and malfunction.

This is commonly seen in old, used cars, despite how well you or the previous owner takes care of them.

If there is a tank failure, then the entire tank may need to be replaced. But it’s better to replace an old, unsafe tank than risk having one that is a fire hazard.

If you have a reasonably new car, then it’s possible that road debris (like rocks) were thrown up while driving and are responsible for damaging the fuel tank.

Here is a list of some other common reasons for a fuel leak:

  • A fuel pump or lift pump failure
  • Faulty electrical connector
  • Fuel pressure regulator not working
  • The car’s injector pump leaking
  • Fuel temperature sensor failure
  • Fuel pressure sensor is not working
  • Failure of the fuel injectors
  • A bad fuel line or a fuel line leak

What Should I Do If My Car Is Leaking Gas?

Too often, we hear people use the phrase “it still runs.” However, if you do confirm that you have a gas leak, whatever you do, please DON’T attempt to drive!

If your car is leaking gas (even small leaks), then the best thing to do is to get a professional repair done ASAP.

It would be best to have your vehicle towed to a workshop or dealer instead of driving there. The list of things that could potentially go wrong is a long one and also very dangerous.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Fuel Tank Leak?

The cost of repairing a fuel tank leak varies depending on the severity and location of the leak.

The job of fixing or replacing your damaged gas tank can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,500.

Generally, it is more expensive to repair leaks that have been caused by rust or corrosion in comparison to sealant leaks.

It is also possible to significantly reduce the cost of repairs if you catch a fuel tank leak before it gets too severe.

If your car is leaking gas, don’t wait until it becomes a serious problem. Take your car in for repairs as soon as you can so you can avoid further damage and costly bills.

Your mechanic will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and suggest any necessary repairs or replacement parts that are needed.

Additionally, they may offer tips on how to properly maintain your vehicle so you can avoid future leaks.

My Car Is Leaking Gas. Is It Safe to Drive?

As I just talked about, at first thought, driving with a leaking car may not seem that bad. After all, there are many cars on the road that are dripping oil on streets, freeways, highways, etc. They are doing this without getting their cars fixed for months!

That being said, an engine oil leak and a gas leak are two very different things. You need to get a gas leak fixed as soon as possible, and here’s why:

If gasoline reaches a very high temperature, then it can undergo spontaneous combustion. You don’t want to be injured or worse by an explosion and car fire! Nor do you want to be the one held responsible for setting everything around the car on fire.

You can see why driving around with a gas leak is very dangerous. If the fuel drips onto a hot metal surface, it can self-ignite and produce a fire that can spread quickly.

You might be thinking the chances of the gasoline igniting is close to zero, but you’re wrong. While driving or sitting in a parking lot, gasoline can leak from your car and puddle on the ground.

All it takes is one spark to set your car and everything around it on fire. Or if someone drops their cigarette next to your vehicle, this can also ignite a fire.

If the risk of fire isn’t bad enough, here is another thing to consider: gasoline contains chemicals like carbon monoxide, which is a dangerous gas that can produce flu-like symptoms.

If this happens while you’re driving, you may feel nauseous or dizzy as you inhale the gas.There is also a chance you could get a headache, the gas will impair your vision, or you might have shortness of breath.

These are all symptoms that can impair your ability to drive efficiently, as well as making you feel ill. In the worst-case scenario, you could get into a car accident and hurt yourself or someone else.

Be safe – get a potential gas leak checked and repaired as soon as possible!

Wrapping Up

To confirm if your car is leaking gas, examine your vehicle from underneath. Smelling gas doesn’t mean that your car is leaking gas, but it could be a good indicator of something that needs to be fixed.

Look underneath the vehicle, check the hoses and the fuel tank. Also check for any signs of moisture by rubbing your hand against the car above where you see a puddle from a leak or by using a flashlight.

Once you find the leak, you must get it fixed as soon as possible. When you’re driving with a gas leak, you put yourself and those around you at serious risk!

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