Q: Can Exhaust Fumes Get Inside My Car?

asked by on November 24, 2015

Can exhaust fumes get inside my car?

Exhaust fume odor in car Inspection $79.99 - $89.99 Get a Quote

Yes, exhaust fumes can get into your vehicle in a multitude of ways.

The first way exhaust fumes could get in your car is just by sitting in traffic with your windows down, especially if you’re in traffic in a tunnel or a somewhat enclosed area. If you roll the windows up when you have your AC on, it could pull exhaust fumes in from the outside and into your vehicle. It may not be very noticeable but you will be able to smell it. Air that comes into the car is filtered by a cabin air filter, so it will not be a potent or as bad for you, but some fumes can still get into your car. Most times, a vehicle does get exhaust fumes in it without the driver even knowing. If you have issues with rust holes in the floorboards or in a panel of the vehicle, exhaust fumes can get in.

Sometimes the owner of a car that has a faulty exhaust system does not want to repair it right away. This could be a deadly mistake. All automotive engines create exhaust gasses but there are some deadlier than others. The government has set emission standards for cars on the road today to help prevent people from getting sick and to reduce damage to our environment.

Hydrocarbons are emissions that are principal pollutants of concern; they are a class of burned or partially burned fuel that are toxic. Hydrocarbons are a major contributor to smog, which can be a major problem in urban areas. Prolonged exposure to hydrocarbons contributes to asthma, liver disease, lung disease, and cancer. Regulations governing hydrocarbons vary according to type of engine and jurisdiction; in some cases, "non-methane hydrocarbons" are regulated, while in other cases, "total hydrocarbons" are regulated. Methane is not directly toxic, but is more difficult to break down in a catalytic converter, so in effect "non-methane hydrocarbon" regulation can be considered easier to meet. Since methane is a greenhouse gas, interest is rising in how to eliminate emissions of it.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a product of incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen; overexposure (carbon monoxide poisoning) may be fatal. NOx is generated when nitrogen in the air reacts with oxygen at the high temperature and pressure inside the engine. NOx is a precursor to smog and acid rain. NOx is created by the combination of NO and NO2, which is extremely reactive. NOx production is increased when an engine runs at its most efficient or it hottest part of the cycle; when you are exposed to it for a long time, it will stay in your body indefinitely.

Sulfur oxide (SOx) is a general term for oxides of sulfur, which are emitted from motor vehicles burning fuel containing sulfur. Reducing the level of fuel sulfur reduces the level of Sulfur oxide emitted from the tailpipe.

There is no escaping exhaust fumes but if your car is well maintained and free from rot and your exhaust system is in good working order then your chances of overexposure are very miniscule.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

What others are asking

There is a strong alcohol smell in the cabin

Hello, thank you for writing in. Does it smell sweet at all? I believe you are smelling glycol. This is the type of alcohol that is used in coolant that will keep it liquid at freezing temperatures. If you are...

Service Engine Soon Light and P1441 Code, even after replacing purge solenoid

Although some codes require a certain number of drive cycles without problems to reset the Check Engine Light, it sounds like there is still fuel vapor flow from the EVAP system into the engine when there should not be. It's...

Exhaust fumes leaking into the car

This concern could be caused by a cracked exhaust manifold. Is the Check Engine light on? If so, a certified, local mechanic, like one with YourMechanic, could diagnose the problem with a scan tool. Due to the poisonous nature of...

Does an Aftermarket Exhaust System Benefit My Car?

An aftermarket exhaust system MAY be of some benefit to your vehicle. One of the most restrictive and power-robbing systems on cars today is the exhaust system. Having a free-flowing exhaust system and being able to get all of the...

Emissions light comes on and goes off.

Hi. Emissions codes and emission problems are sometimes very difficult to diagnosis and pin point what exactly is causing the problem. Because of this it sometimes requires extra labor time to fix the emission problem properly. The good thing about...

Catalyctic chugging issues

Hello. If the issue started after the catalytic converter was removed, then it may be possible that the issue is related to the removal of the converter. For many vehicles, the catalytic converter plays an important role in engine...

Where Is the O2 Sensor Located?

Oxygen sensors O2 sensors will always be located in the exhaust system. Their function is to sense how much oxygen remains in the exhaust that is flowing out of the engine, and report that information to the vehicle’s engine control...

Intermittent burning smell in the car

Hello. It sounds possible that there was some leftover fluid from a repair completed previously that is now leaking on the exhaust and causing a burning smell in your car. There could also be a very small or slow leak...

Can i still put headers if i did a muffler delete?

Hello. A muffler delete should not interfere with the installation of any exhaust manifold. The exhaust manifold is bolted to the head and runs from the engine bay, while the muffler is on the rear, underside of the vehicle. If...

Related articles

5 Red Flags That Your Car Needs Immediate Attention
It It isn’t popular to think about, but you should be prepared for vehicle problems. Vehicles are designed and built by people, and they are only as perfect or flawed as the people who build them. That means sooner or...
How to Install an Exhaust System in Your Car
Your vehicle’s exhaust system plays a few very vital roles in keeping your car running efficiently and quietly. It aids in moving...
How to Get Rid of Bad Smells in Your Car
No one likes riding in a smelly car. Locate the source of the smell, then give your car a thorough clean to keep it smelling fresh.