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post #1 of 36 Old 12-17-2016, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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Gas smell in cabin of car

I did a little research on here before posting this and everyone seemed to come to a different conclusion so I decided to post my own.

About a month ago I started to smell fuel inside the car, but it happens on and off.
-it only happens when my car is idling/parked/not moving, when I'm driving at any kind of speed the smell is not noticeable.
-heat/ac does not seem to affect it, other than the fact that when I turn on the vents it makes it worse
-you can smell it on the outside of the car occasionally as well, seems like its coming from the engine bay/intake area

No recent mods were done to the car that would have caused this, and the only performance-type mod that has been done to the car in the engine bay area is a short ram intake (I checked all the hoses/clamps and they're all tight).

My best guess would be a leak in the fuel line somewhere, but I'm relatively-inept when it comes to troubleshooting these kinds of things, so if anyone could shed some light on the situation it would be greatly appreciated .


(Not sure if this is related or if it helps at all, but I just got the car inspected and it passed the emissions portion, but failed the safety portion due to the smell, but the garage said they didn't think they would be able to figure out where the smell was coming from so they didn't even try "your guess is as good as mine" ...thanks man, that's really helpful )
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post #2 of 36 Old 12-17-2016, 12:57 AM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

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Originally Posted by B3n View Post
... the garage said they didn't think they would be able to figure out where the smell was coming from

I'd avoid that garage from now on for starters.

Maybe check under the rear seat at the fuel pump cover.
Sniff around with the car off.
Check the service manual and trace the fuel lines.
Look under the car for crushed lines or damaged/missing clamps.

That's how you have to find it. Look for it
You could get into checking fuel pressures and stuff next.


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post #3 of 36 Old 12-17-2016, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

I mainly use them for tires/inspections and that sort of thing, but yeah I agree, they now seem fairly incompetent :/.

I could be wrong, but I'm fairly certain that the problem lies in the engine bay area somewhere, since the smell intensifies with the vents on inside the cabin, not the fuel pump like you said it might be.

I can jack the car up tomorrow and check underneath for damaged lines but i'm not entirely sure what to look for. Should I just look for anything out of the ordinary? If there is a damaged line, will I be able to tell immediately without knowing for sure what exactly I'm looking for?

Also not sure if this helps or not, I'm not exactly an expert on these sorts of things; but it seems to me that if it is a leak or something of the sort in the fuel line, that I would be losing fuel correct? So it seems that my MPG / miles that I drive per tank would plummet, or at least be worse than usual, but that's not the case. I've been getting the same mpg/miles per tank as always.
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post #4 of 36 Old 12-17-2016, 01:46 AM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

A small leak wouldn't really be noticeable to your MPG.
A little drip goes a long way as far as smell goes.
Outside air comes from the cowl at the bottom of the windshield.
The vents will circulate air throughout the cabin, so it's not impossible that it originates from behind you, but since you smell it outside the cabin, and the whole system is outside the cabin, that's a good place to start looking.
Look at the manuals where the fuel lines run. Follow them from fuel rails to the tank.
I personally have never had to deal with fuel lines yet, so I can't speak from experience, but they're just linear hoses and lines and I'm pretty sure I've inadvertently seen them just by being under the car a jillion times.
As far as what to look for, I would assume you will have wet, possibly even cleaned off in an area of prolonged fuel exposure.
Start off with the ground under the parked car. Any wet spots? If it hasn't been raining, spots should be apparent, but even if the ground is wet, look for rainbows on the wet ground. Your drip will be coming from above that spot somewhere.
Inspect under the car when it is dry out.
Look (while sniffing) for wet metal lines, rubber lines, especially where rubber turns to metal junctions.
And oh yeah...use a flashlight, not a lighter


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post #5 of 36 Old 12-17-2016, 10:35 AM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

@NoSloppy made some great suggestions (like, use a flashlight, not a lighter....).
To add to it, I would check for leaks with the key in the run position, this will keep the fuel lines pressurized making leaks more noticeable.
While looking, move lines/hoses around, especially at connections. Some lines are easy to find, just look for the fuel injectors on the intake and follow the fuel lines.

PS, if you're looking for a while, you may want a battery charger on your battery.
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post #6 of 36 Old 12-17-2016, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoSloppy View Post
A small leak wouldn't really be noticeable to your MPG.
A little drip goes a long way as far as smell goes.
Outside air comes from the cowl at the bottom of the windshield.
The vents will circulate air throughout the cabin, so it's not impossible that it originates from behind you, but since you smell it outside the cabin, and the whole system is outside the cabin, that's a good place to start looking.
Look at the manuals where the fuel lines run. Follow them from fuel rails to the tank.
I personally have never had to deal with fuel lines yet, so I can't speak from experience, but they're just linear hoses and lines and I'm pretty sure I've inadvertently seen them just by being under the car a jillion times.
As far as what to look for, I would assume you will have wet, possibly even cleaned off in an area of prolonged fuel exposure.
Start off with the ground under the parked car. Any wet spots? If it hasn't been raining, spots should be apparent, but even if the ground is wet, look for rainbows on the wet ground. Your drip will be coming from above that spot somewhere.
Inspect under the car when it is dry out.
Look (while sniffing) for wet metal lines, rubber lines, especially where rubber turns to metal junctions.
And oh yeah...use a flashlight, not a lighter
The MPG thing makes sense now, thanks, and unfortunately the car is currently under an inch of snow from last night since my dad needed the garage to work on his car.

As soon as I can get a chance to look around underneath the car I will let you guys know what I find, thanks for the tips!
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post #7 of 36 Old 12-18-2016, 04:17 PM
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Depending on age and mileage of the car the rubber lines in the engine bay could be getting brittle and cracking. My Tib has 150k miles on it and I had the same issue. Turned out my fuel return line was cracking.
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post #8 of 36 Old 12-20-2016, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

its an 03 with just over 70k miles, so I'm not sure if that would be the problem, but it's always possible.
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post #9 of 36 Old 12-21-2016, 09:14 AM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

its not so much the miles but the age and wear the Tib lived all its life. If it was parked outside the majority of the time then that will eat rubber faster.
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post #10 of 36 Old 12-21-2016, 12:15 PM
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Lightbulb Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

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its not so much the miles but the age and wear the Tib lived all its life. If it was parked outside the majority of the time then that will eat rubber faster.
True, tires and "rotating seals" (external trans, wheel bearings, etc) are also miles related in aging, while all other "rubber" is time and environment (temperature, humidity, sunlight/UV) related.

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post #11 of 36 Old 12-21-2016, 02:52 PM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

I had the same issue with my 03. I replaced the Fuel Injector hose in the engine bay and problem solved. (I could actually see fuel coming out when I looked at the engine while running and revved it using the plate on the throttle body). I had to go change underwear after seeing the gas squirt onto the running engine with me standing there like a DA. Just change the hose, it's a cheap and easy job as long as you're careful.

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post #12 of 36 Old 01-01-2017, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

Sorry for the late response, been busy with work/the holidays and such, but is it possible that this problem could solve itself somehow? I drove a good bit over the past 3 days and I didn't smell any gas whatsoever. I even let it run for a little in the garage (with the door open, don't wanna die from the exhaust ) and revved the engine a little bit and I still didn't smell anything. I also checked underneath the car afterwards and there are no wet spots at all from any possible leaks.
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post #13 of 36 Old 01-01-2017, 11:53 PM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

"Fix itself"?, no.
Temperature change allowing a bad hose to seal better, yes.

I'm going to guess that if you think back, you smell the gas more when the engine is cold (like cold ambient temps), this will make old hoses a little harder and cause leaks.
Also, rubber is one of the few materials that grow with cold stead of shrink. So an expanding hose that gets hard leads to leaks.

Have you tried moving hoses around with the ignition key in the "on" position? This would have the fuel pump put pressure in the lines.

PS, some year/model Subarus had a recall for the same issue. Poor material for a fuel injection hose under the intake coupled with a poor clamp led to "cold air gas leaks". The dealer would replace the hose and install new clamps. It was a PITA job since you really had to remove the intake manifold to get to it.

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post #14 of 36 Old 01-02-2017, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

When I did/didnt smell fuel was random, but the smell did start about 2 months ago when it was cold outside so that does make sense; and I havent done any real troubleshooting yet, since I've been busy recently, and then when I had time to do it today I didnt smell anything so i didnt think that it was necessary (I'm also not entirely sure which hoses to move around).
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post #15 of 36 Old 01-02-2017, 12:52 AM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

Move any hoses connected to the fuel rail/injectors, including down the firewall.

Wifes car: 2004 Tib GT, 2.7L, 5MT, 188K miles, medium blue, basically stock.
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post #16 of 36 Old 01-02-2017, 04:00 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

Sure enough, the smell was back a little bit ago right before i drove home, so i looked around when i got in the garage. Keeping in mind that im not exactly sure what im doing, and what hoses i should/shouldnt move or look at; I didnt see anything out of the ordinary in the engine bay area, but when i crawled underneath the car I noticed a couple wet-ish looking spots. One was a black rubber tube right above the flex pipe in the exhaust, I didnt see any holes in it, it looked more like it was wet from above but i didnt see anything dripping onto it. Any ideas what is above that tube? Or if that particular area being wet could be completely unrelated?

I also took a video, i can post crappy screenshots for clarification if needed.
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post #17 of 36 Old 01-02-2017, 09:40 AM
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Since you really don't know what your doing a video or pics is about the only the that will help us. Otherwise I suggest taking it to a mechanic because fuel leaks will only get worse until your stranded or worse the engine catches fire.
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post #18 of 36 Old 01-02-2017, 11:29 AM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

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Sure enough, the smell was back a little bit ago right before i drove home, so i looked around when i got in the garage. Keeping in mind that im not exactly sure what im doing, and what hoses i should/shouldnt move or look at; I didnt see anything out of the ordinary in the engine bay area, but when i crawled underneath the car I noticed a couple wet-ish looking spots. One was a black rubber tube right above the flex pipe in the exhaust, I didnt see any holes in it, it looked more like it was wet from above but i didnt see anything dripping onto it. Any ideas what is above that tube? Or if that particular area being wet could be completely unrelated?

I also took a video, i can post crappy screenshots for clarification if needed.
You shouldn't have leaks from any hose from any system (cooling, power steering, etc.) if you move/pull them, so you're safe there.
Again, key on engine off (so fuel pressure is up), move hoses related to fuel, look for leaks. It's easy to find the front fuel rail, look for the lines off of it.

Wifes car: 2004 Tib GT, 2.7L, 5MT, 188K miles, medium blue, basically stock.
My car: 1998 Legacy GT wagon, 2.5L, 5MT, 176K miles, "Quicksilver", not stock and not slow...
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post #19 of 36 Old 01-04-2017, 09:22 AM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

In addition to the other advice listed above, check out this recent post Fuel leak

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post #20 of 36 Old 01-06-2017, 03:55 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

Thanks for all the advice guys, I just found the problem a little bit ago and took a video of where exactly it is (since I'm not really sure what part it is or how to fix it). Please see the pictures for reference!
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post #21 of 36 Old 01-06-2017, 04:35 AM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

I'll say fuel pressure regulator.
Would you say you have a less severe case of this?

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post #22 of 36 Old 01-06-2017, 05:06 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

Yes its the same location, although mine is much less severe like you said, with about 1 drop coming out every 5 seconds or so and slightly more to the left than in the video.
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post #23 of 36 Old 01-06-2017, 09:38 AM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

It looks like its leaking where the steel clamp is? You can try to replace the steel clamp with a screw type fuel pressure clamp at most auto parts stores and see if it helps. If it doesn't it could be that the pressure regulator is fubar.

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post #24 of 36 Old 01-06-2017, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

Gotcha, tryin to figure out what size clamp to get; Any idea what size the hose is?
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post #25 of 36 Old 01-06-2017, 12:00 PM
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Re: Gas smell in cabin of car

A bit off topic, but, when we're your plug wires last changed? The corona dusting (white powdery coating in places) is common on old wires that are starting to leak spark.
If it goes on long enough, you get misfires, especially when it's wet/damp out.

Worm clamps cover a range of sizes, guess it's about 1/2"?
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Wifes car: 2004 Tib GT, 2.7L, 5MT, 188K miles, medium blue, basically stock.
My car: 1998 Legacy GT wagon, 2.5L, 5MT, 176K miles, "Quicksilver", not stock and not slow...
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"life is lived, one corner at a time".
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Best NT.com '13 New-Comer, NT.com '13 Technical Advise & Info (runner-up), NT.com '13 Non-Tib (3rd) .

Last edited by Charlie-III; 01-06-2017 at 12:01 PM.
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