Why do you smell petrol in your car?

Humans detect smell by inhaling air that contains odour molecules which then binds to the receptors in the nose, relaying a message to the brain. When you smell chocolate, it is made of up to a hundred different types of odour molecules. The human nose can detect up to a trillion different types of smell.

If you perceive fuel in your car, the first guess might be that there’s a fuel leak.

You may be right, but there are several reasons you may perceive fuel inside a car.

Of course we can look at the fact that the smell of petrol embodies danger, as it causes nausea, dizziness and a host of other feelings. There are reported cases of drivers becoming lightheaded and passing out as a result of petrol odour.

There are several reasons these and many more could happen.

In this piece we take a look at five reasons fuel odour could be perceived in a car.

  1. Leaking fuel tank: Tanks in modern cars are mostly made of metal or plastic. When ruptured as a result of rust due to water content in the petrol for metal or impact because of terrain and driving conditions, leak(s) will begin to surface.

Owing to the volatility of petrol, the leakage may not be visible in liquid form, but can be perceived by smell.

  1. Improperly installed fuel pump assembly: If you recently had any work done on the fuel system of your vehicle, chances are that the fuel pump assembly locking seal or ring might be improperly installed. On most vehicles this is located under the rear passenger seat. This can be confirmed by attempting to fill-up the fuel tank with petrol. Should there be any signs of leak as it is getting filled, it’s a clear proof of the tank not being properly sealed.
  2. Leaky exhaust : part of the cabin of the vehicle is compromised, especially the drainage holes – which are designed to drain out water when it finds its way into the car – that are on the floor panel of the car, in front, at the rear both at the passenger and driver side. There is usually rubber plug, used to seal the drainage holes

Should any of them be compromised and there coincidentally is a leak in the exhaust, it would lead to the gaseous smell filling up the car.

  1. Damaged fuel filter: If your vehicle is equipped with in-line fuel filter, chances are that its location will make it susceptible to the elements. Rust and other forms of damage could lead to leaks, causing fuel odour to percolate into the cabin.

Sometimes you may not perceive fuel odour in the car, but they all around, when you alight.

  1. Leaky injector nozzles or seals: Owing to age, the rubber seals around the injector nozzles could wilt, crack or break away completely. Same fate could befall the injector nozzles as well, causing it to leak. This leak could cause the occupants of the vehicle to perceive the odour of petrol in the cabin.

If the smell becomes overwhelming, you know that the leakage must be too much , and that is considered an emergency and the vehicle should not be operated under such circumstance, but if it is just little, then you want drive straight to a mechanic garage, to get it checked out.

Don’t forget that the petrol odour can be harmful; perceiving it for a long time and neglecting it could lead to accident and ultimately death.

It could knock you out while driving in your car, therefore leading to accidents. When exposed to naked flame, it could lead to a fire hazard causing the loss of property, and sometimes live(s).

When presented with a situation that suggests fuel leakage, it is not something to take with levity; it must be dealt with immediately

Till we come your way again next week to talk to you about something that is really important, stay safe!

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