So, you’ve parked your car in the parking lot and as soon as you’re about to take off, you notice a dark spot on the driveway. In most cases, the first step you’ll take is to get off the car to inspect the spot by sniffing or touching it. Although you’re not entirely sure, the gas smell on the dark spot could be a sign that your car is leaking gas. One of the questions you’re likely to ask yourself here is why is gas leaking from the bottom of my car.
You see, although gas is a vital consumable that powers a vehicle, it’s extremely flammable and dangerous if ignited accidentally. So, in case your car is leaking gas, then this is a concerning issue that should be fixed as soon as it’s detected.
Now, in most cases, leaking gasoline is caused by issues in the fuel system. The fuel system itself consists of many parts. So, how exactly will you tell the exact cause of the problem? Well, this is exactly what this short guide will discuss. So, here, we’ll walk you through the primary causes of leaking gasoline in your car and how exactly you can fix them.
But First, What Are Some Common Signs of Leaking Gas?
So, before we discuss the main causes of fuel leaks in your car, it’s important if we can start by listing some of the common symptoms of gas leaking. Although your car’s fuel tank is designed to withstand immense force, temperature and pressure, eventually, it wears out due to age causing gasoline to leak. So, which are some of the common signs you’ll expect to see?
- Sweet Gasoline Smell
The first obvious sign of a gas leak is constantly smelling gasoline when driving. According to the ATSDR, gasoline has a naturally sweet smell that is caused by the presence of benzene in the fuel. So, in case you constantly sniff this sweet odor when driving, then that’s a clear sign that your car is leaking gas.
- Noticeable Drop on the Gas Gauge
Another clear sign of a leaking gas tank is a noticeable drop in the amount of fuel in the tank. By now, you’ve mastered the amount of fuel you use daily. In case you notice that you’re making frequent visits to the filling station, then that’s a sign something is terribly wrong. Another sign is when the fuel gauge shows you’re running out of fuel when you’ve not even driven the car.
- Gas Puddles Under the Car
The last clear sign of leaking gas on your car is puddles of gasoline under the car. This mostly happens when you park your car for too long. So, if what you’re seeing is possible droplets or wetness under the car, especially under the fuel tank, then that’s a sign your car is leaking gas.
So, What Are the Main Causes of Gas Leaks?
- Intense Vibrations
One of the causes of gas leaks in your car is excessive vibrations when driving, especially on rocky or rough terrains. In case you’re driving too aggressively, then there are high chances you might end up damaging some of the vital car components such as the suspension system, the fuel tank, and the vent hose. In case these systems become loose or punctured, then you’re likely to see gas leaking from the bottom of the car.
- Damaged Gas Lines and Hoses
Hoses and fuel lines are the vents that transport gasoline from the fuel tank to the engine for combustion. If these fuel lines are damaged, then it will be impossible to drive the car as there will be lean fuel getting to the combustion chamber.
Besides, you’re likely to see fuel leaking at the bottom of the car. Now, there are many reasons that cause fuel lines and hoses to leak gas. One of them is excessive vibration that makes the hoses lose, especially on the mounting points.
Another reason is wear and tear caused by old age. This mostly happens to rubber fuel lines, which are prone to failure as they age. The last reason is shoddy installation, especially if the job was performed by an inexperienced mechanic.
- Damaged Fuel Tank
The fuel tank is considered the main reservoir of the fuel in your car. For that reason, it needs to be kept in good condition to avoid damage. The best thing about the fuel tank is that it rarely needs regular maintenance as other parts do. In fact, the fuel tank can last for up to a decade before begging for a replacement.
But, just like other automotive parts, the fuel tank can get damaged prematurely. If you’re driving on rough rocky terrains, there are higher chances of puncturing the fuel tank. Also, if you drive in areas with a lot of salt, such as near the beach or salted roads during summer, the fuel tank is likely to accumulate a lot of rust. This can eventually lead to premature wear. Once the fuel tank is damaged, what happens is that it will start leaking fuel.
- Damaged O-ring and Rubber Seals
Now, the injectors are tasked to spray timed and measured amounts of gas to the engine to cater for combustion. Each injector is connected to the fuel lines via fuel rails. Between the injector and the fuel rail, there’s a rubber O-ring that keeps the two components tight to prevent fuel leakage.
Now, following prolonged exposure to the engine’s heat, these rubber seals and O-rings become hard and brittle forcing them to crack and break. Once they break, the fuel injector will no longer stay tight meaning it will start to leak gas.
- Using Fuel Additives
Most of the fuel additives in the market are harmless. However, there are other additives that contain corrosive substances in their formulation. One of them is acetone. Although some people use it to boost fuel mileage, acetone is extremely toxic and can damage the engine and some of its vital parts such as the gaskets and the O-rings. Once these parts are damaged, you’re likely to experience possible oil leakage.
How Do You Fix Gas Leakage?
Now that we’ve discussed some of the common causes of gas leaks on your car, how then do you fix them? You see, gas leaks are serious issues that can quickly develop into dangerous situations if not remedied on time. Also, fixing them requires the help of professional mechanics since you’ll be dealing with sensitive parts. So, in this last section, we’ll walk you through a quick and easy process of fixing a gas leak.
Fixing a Damaged Fuel Tank
- Start by jacking up the car to inspect the extent of the damage. In case the gas tank is old or badly damaged, then the only way to fix it is by replacing it with a new one. Otherwise, if the damage is minimal, then you can proceed to repair it.
- Now pick sandpaper and start sanding the suspected area. When you’re done, soak a clean rag on rubbing alcohol or degreaser and start wiping the sanded area.
- Next, mix epoxy in the right amount according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- In case of a crack, apply the epoxy over the affected area and press it in to cover the crack. In the case of a hole, pick a small piece of epoxy and shape it like a cone. Insert the cone inside the hole and press it in. Smooth the remaining epoxy on the surface of the gas tank to ensure that it doesn’t come off.
- Allow the epoxy to dry for several hours before filling the gas tank with fuel.
Fixing Leaking Fuel Lines
Just like in the case of the fuel tank, the fuel lines will have to be replaced if they’re damaged. However, if the situation is just a minor installation fault, then you can consider fixing them.
- So, start by jacking up the car to access the position of the fuel lines.
- Next, turn on the car and locate the position of the fuse that’s connected to the fuel pump. Here, you’ll have to disconnect this fuse to disengage the fuel pump. This will allow you to relieve the fuel pressure to prevent the fuel from leaking heavily once the fuel lines are disconnected from the fuel filter.
- When you’re done, loosen the hose clamps that secure the fuel lines on each mounting point. This will allow the fuel lines to come off. From there, you can decide the replace the fuel lines or tighten them perfectly in case the hose clamps were previously loose.
So, why is my car leaking gas from the bottom? Well, we believe we’ve answered this question. As you’ve already read, gas leaks can happen from anywhere within the car’s fuel supply system. It can be in the gas tank, EVAP canisters, fuel lines, fuel injectors, or the gas cap.
But, regardless of where the problem originates from, fixing this issue as soon as possible is important. Otherwise, you might end up facing problems such as poor gas mileage, reduced engine power, and possible fire hazard in case the leaking fuel gets ignited.
So, to avoid all these, it’s recommended that you fix the problem early enough or hire an expert mechanic to do the job for you.