Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Evaporative Emission Control Canister

The smell of gasoline is difficult to miss, and even more difficult to ignore once you’ve smelled it. It is caustic and burns the nose, and can be very dangerous if inhaled and cause nausea, headaches and breathing problems. The amount of fuel vapors that can escape from a vehicle are strictly regulated, and the evaporative emission control canister helps keep everything working with valves, hoses, charcoal canister as well as a sealed gas cap.

Fuel is going to evaporate into a vapor, and that vapor is stored in the charcoal canister for later use in the engine as an important part of the air/fuel mixture. Particulates can accumulate on the emission control canister and wreak havoc with the valves and solenoids, even potentially cracking the charcoal canister itself. While a cracked or dirty canister is not a reason to be immediately concerned, the fact that fuel or fuel fumes can leak out is a big problem and needs to be addressed immediately.

1. Check Engine Light is on

The Check Engine Light can go on for dozens of different reasons, but if you see that particular light in combination with the strong odor of gasoline fumes then it’s a possibility that your evaporative emission control canister is the problem.

2. Raw fuel smell

If you’re smelling raw fuel, and you’re standing near the back of your vehicle, then it’s a possibility that this emissions-important part is failing and allowing fuel to escape from your gas tank.

3. Collapsed or leaking fuel tank

If the evaporative emission control canister undergoes a catastrophic failure, the gas tank can actually collapse – if the car has a solid-type gas cap. If there is a whooshing sound when the cap is removed, suspect the problem is venting-related. No maintenance schedule exists for this particular part, but the canister can easily become clogged or damaged and begin to leak. If that happens, be sure to consult a mechanic at your earliest convenience.

YourMechanic makes getting repairs to the evaporative emission control canister easy, since our mobile mechanics will come to your home or office to diagnose and fix your car.


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171 reviews
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On time, polite, knowledgeable and friendly. Really glad he's in our area to work on our cars.

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