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The smell of exhaust in a car can be downright dangerous and absolutely indicates a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. If the driver or any occupants experience eye irradiation due to the fumes, the emission levels are outside of accepted safety levels and could be a danger.
If the smell of exhaust in the car is an ongoing problem, there is most likely a leak in the exhaust system. A rotten egg smell coming from the exhaust port can indicate an issue with the catalytic converter. A heavy gasoline smell coming from the tailpipe could be the result of a failing oxygen sensor and something as simple as a degraded door seal that is letting in exhaust can lead to an exhaust smell in the cabin.
Regardless of the cause, exhaust can be deadly and the vehicle should be inspected immediately.
The exhaust system carries away the spent gases that are produced by the engine combustion. It is made up of a number of different components.
Exhaust Manifolds: Exhaust manifolds are connected to the cylinder head and are responsible for engine air intake. Exhaust manifolds vent the cylinders exhaust by combining it all into one pipe.
Oxygen Sensors: Oxygen sensors measure the ratio of oxygen to exhaust and transmit this information to the vehicle computer so it can adjust the amount of fuel being added to the air going into the engine.
Catalytic Converter: The catalytic converter changes carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into water and carbon dioxide, which is more environmentally friendly. Catalytic converters are required by almost all states.
Muffler: The muffler reduces the noise that is created by the various explosions happening in the engine.
Exhaust Pipe: The exhaust travels through the components listed above and then passes into the exhaust pipe and is sent out into the air.
Exhaust Leak: If the exhaust smell is inside the vehicle cabin, a leak in the exhaust system is almost always the cause. A leak can develop anywhere in the exhaust system and this can result in a heavy exhaust smell in the vehicle. The leak can develop in the muffler, exhaust pipe or even the manifold. As exhaust leaks into the engine compartment it will make its way into the vehicles cabin via the various vents systems in the vehicle. A persistent smell of exhaust in the cabin can be very dangerous and the car should be inspected immediately.
Poor Door or Window Seals: Door and window seals can degrade over time and if they are failing, exhaust fumes can leak into the car. This can create a dangerous driving situation and the seals should be inspected and repaired immediately.
Failing Catalytic Converter: If the smell resembles that of rotten eggs it is probably due to a failing catalytic converter. As the converter starts to fail, it no longer breaks down the sulfur created by the engine which leads to a strong rotten egg smell. Catalytic converters must be replaced, they cannot be repaired.
Failing Heater Core: A smell of burning anti-free in the car is probably related to a leak in the heater core. The heater core itself may be cracked and leaking or a hose leading into or out of the heater core may be split and leaking. Bad seals within the heater core could also lead to this problem. In most cases a puddle of anti-freeze can be seen under the car after it is parked for a while.
While not life threatening, a big enough leak will drain the car of anti-freeze, causing the engine to run hot. This can lead to a number of more serious, and expensive repairs.
Failing Oxygen Sensor: An oxygen sensor measures exactly how rich or lean the exhaust gases are when they leave the combustion chamber. The vehicle computer uses this data to adjust the amount of fuel entering the engine. If the sensor is dirty or failing it can send incorrect measurements. If the exhaust coming from the tailpipe smells like gasoline, the vehicle computer is sending too much gas into the fuel injectors and it is not burning it all off.
Clogged Cabin Air Filter: This is a long shot but it does happen in some cases. A severely clogged cabin air filter could lead to air being pulled into the cabin through other vents which could lead to a slight smell of exhaust. If the smell of exhaust is severe, this is most likely not the culprit.
A top-rated mobile mechanic will come to your home or office to determine the source and cause of the exhaust smell in car issue, and will then provide a detailed inspection report that includes the scope and cost of the necessary repairs.
A mechanic will inspect your exhaust system and other important components of the car. This will include your door and window seals, heater core, cabin air filter and more. It may be necessary for the mechanic to crank up your vehicle to verify and help get to the source of the leaky exhaust fumes. A test drive may also be required to provide you with an accurate diagnosis of the problem.
Exhaust fumes in the cabin of a vehicle is a very serious condition that should be inspected and repaired immediately. Exhaust fumes can present dangerous health conditions and in almost all cases the situation will continue to deteriorate if the vehicle is not repaired immediately.