Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Gasoline inside the car?

asked by on

A very strong gasoline smell (or maybe it's car exhaust) entered inside my car yesterday. (Probably because its cold outside and I haven't driven it in a while) I had to be outside away from the car while letting it warm up. Eventually as the car warmed up and air entered the car, the gasoline smell went away. After letting the car run a little bit longer, I shut it off, opened all 4 of the windows about 1/6 of the way down and let my car stay outside and let the fresh air ventilate the car for about 12 hours. I was wondering if this gasoline gas or car exhaust can 'stick' to my car and the items in it. I am concerned gasoline gas or car exhaust will be on my items, making them harmful to touch. I had clothes, a paper books, bags, and other stuff inside the car. There was a lot of gasoline/car exhaust inside the car and the smell was really strong inside. So is my car safe to drive and is all my stuff safe to use (especially the books and clothes)? I have leather seats if it matters.

The first concern is whether you could have an exhaust leak or a fuel leak. If leaks of that type exist, they should be repaired as both are safety hazards. Occasionally, just due to the weather, exhaust fumes can get drawn into cabin air. At no time, however, is it normal for significant amounts of raw gasoline to be in the air, or leaking as a liquid, especially on a modern car which has sophisticated systems to capture any potential fugitive emissions of vaporous gasoline. If this was a one-off incident, and just limited to exhaust odor, not to worry but if you regularly detect the distinct odor of raw gasoline, that should be investigated at once because leaking gasoline is a fire/explosion hazard. As far as damage to personal belongings from exhaust or gasoline vapors, in ordinary concentrations and if the exposure is fleeting, there is no damage potential. The reason is gasoline is highly volatile and so evaporates into the atmosphere. However, if you spill liquid gasoline on materials, the non volatile compounds will be around for a long time and indeed will destroy many common materials as gasoline is a highly aggressive solvent. Most of the hazard from gasoline vapors is not to personal property but rather to your health because gasoline contains known, well documented carcinogens such as benzene. So, the bottom line is fleeting exposure to the vapors will not damage property but will damage your health. With regard to leaks (exhaust or gasoline, liquid or vapor), if you desire a safety inspection performed by a certified Mechanic, dispatched by YourMechanic right to your location, please request a comprehensive vehicle safety inspection and the responding certified mechanic will address all of your concerns and look at the condition of your entire vehicle. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

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

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Car idles rough, gas smell - 1988 Mercedes Benz 560SL

Check to see if the air filter housing has been sealed properly and that the mass air sensor has not been damaged by dirty air getting by the air filter assembly. If it has, then replace the mass air sensor...

Q: Looking to buy what should I check

You want to confirm that the vehicle has never been in a collision (Carfax might be helpful) and that the vehicle does not have any outstanding recall-related repairs. Apart from that, inasmuch as used car repair, maintenance, and restoration costs...

Q: What coolant mixture should I use?

You should always try to use a mixture that is 50% coolant, and 50% distilled water. You should never use a mixture that is less than 40% coolant, or more than 60% coolant.

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...