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Thread: Fuel? Smell

  1. #1
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    Fuel? Smell

    Yesterday, my wife and I drove for a couple hours. Twice I had to brake reasonably hard and my wife said she smelled gas. She recently had Covid and doesn't have her smell completely back. I didn't lose my sense of smell and I smelled something, but I can't say for sure it was gas.

    I read somewhere on here that if you have a fuel leak at the pump, sender or filler, you might smell fuel after braking because it will slosh hard to the leak spot. Today, I removed the tank cover and took the car for a drive. I hit the brake hard and jumped out to check the top of the tank. I couldn't see any wetness.

    One thing that has me puzzled is the AC was on max. So even if the fuel leaked, I don't see why it should smell immediately. The outside air should not be coming in. Do you think my outside air valve is not closing tight? Is that a common failure? (I know it closes some)

    The other idea I came up with is the accumulator leaking in the frame and that fuel sloshing forward on braking. Is that possible? I have recently had a couple hard starting issues. (That's why I suspect the accumulator.)

    Any other ideas?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helirich View Post
    Yesterday, my wife and I drove for a couple hours. Twice I had to brake reasonably hard and my wife said she smelled gas. She recently had Covid and doesn't have her smell completely back. I didn't lose my sense of smell and I smelled something, but I can't say for sure it was gas.

    I read somewhere on here that if you have a fuel leak at the pump, sender or filler, you might smell fuel after braking because it will slosh hard to the leak spot. Today, I removed the tank cover and took the car for a drive. I hit the brake hard and jumped out to check the top of the tank. I couldn't see any wetness.

    One thing that has me puzzled is the AC was on max. So even if the fuel leaked, I don't see why it should smell immediately. The outside air should not be coming in. Do you think my outside air valve is not closing tight? Is that a common failure? (I know it closes some)

    The other idea I came up with is the accumulator leaking in the frame and that fuel sloshing forward on braking. Is that possible? I have recently had a couple hard starting issues. (That's why I suspect the accumulator.)

    Any other ideas?
    You might try a new gas cap if you don't know how old yours is. Had a very similar experience with some gas fumes, not often, but frequent enough, and replaced cap. No fumes since.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by iflights View Post
    You might try a new gas cap if you don't know how old yours is. Had a very similar experience with some gas fumes, not often, but frequent enough, and replaced cap. No fumes since.
    My gas cap looks as old as dirt. But I didn't notice any fuel around it either. I should probably get one though.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Rich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helirich View Post
    One thing that has me puzzled is the AC was on max. So even if the fuel leaked, I don't see why it should smell immediately. The outside air should not be coming in. Do you think my outside air valve is not closing tight? Is that a common failure? (I know it closes some)
    Even though it is "closed" in MAX mode the recirc door is designed not to block all the outside air, only most of it.

    It's not a failure. (DMC Technical Info Manual)
    March '81, 5-speed, black interior

  5. #5
    Motors about after dark Michael's Avatar
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    Also check your seal for the fuel gauge sending unit, (especially after a fill up), as well as the fuel pump seal of course.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Also check your seal for the fuel gauge sending unit, (especially after a fill up), as well as the fuel pump seal of course.
    I checked the fuel pump. It's very tight. The fuel gauge hole has just a plug. I removed it to check the O-ring and all looked good. I did feel it was easy to unthread. I threaded it on a lot tighter. (As tight as I could get it by hand) Should I use a pair of channel locks?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Even though it is "closed" in MAX mode the recirc door is designed not to block all the outside air, only most of it.

    It's not a failure. (DMC Technical Info Manual)
    I guess that's so you don't suffocate? Are all cars like that? I would think the D would be the one car (rear engine) that wouldn't be much danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

  8. #8
    Motors about after dark Michael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helirich View Post
    I checked the fuel pump. It's very tight. The fuel gauge hole has just a plug. I removed it to check the O-ring and all looked good. I did feel it was easy to unthread. I threaded it on a lot tighter. (As tight as I could get it by hand) Should I use a pair of channel locks?
    Not too tight, you don't want to mess those threads up. The best way to tell if it's not leaking is brim the tank, and on the way home bring it to an abrupt stop a few times, then check the plug. If the weight of all that fuel pressing against it doesn't make it leak, you are fine.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Not too tight, you don't want to mess those threads up. The best way to tell if it's not leaking is brim the tank, and on the way home bring it to an abrupt stop a few times, then check the plug. If the weight of all that fuel pressing against it doesn't make it leak, you are fine.
    That's pretty much what I did today and couldn't duplicate the smell or see anything with the cover removed. When it happened, we had allready driven a fair bit. (Maybe 45 min) That's why I thought of the accumulator. But as I recall, it is not over the close plate. It would seem like it's leaking somewhere over that plate and when you hit the brakes it shoshes forward and the fumes get picked up by the AC. The car does not leak in my garage. When I fill it, I always fill it half way up the rubber fill tube. I never see a leak than.

    On the accumulator, we went to lunch after driving for an hour and a half. Of course the car was hot and it was sitting in the hot sun for our lunch. (1 1/2 hours) We went out and it was hard to start. This is the first time it was hard to start since I got it on the road. I know the accumulator is to help with hot starting, but do you consider a car sitting for an hour and a half "hot start"?

    Anyways, it did start after several long cranking sessions. Then it ran as normal for the rest of the day. Today it took just a bit longer than usual to crank up from dead cold. The accumulator is one of the few things I have not replaced in the fuel system. But I still don't see how it can leak in the frame. I need to jack the car up and check it out again.

  10. #10
    Motors about after dark Michael's Avatar
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    Accumulators can go bad but in all probability it's something else. A good way to check rest pressure is to remove the air filter housing and press down on the metering plate. You should feel some resistance. It's better to have a fuel pressure test kit to watch it. I don't know what the manual says but I would imagine about 1 to 1.5 hours would be approaching the limit to hold rest pressure.

    Also on your fuel smell, there are some hard lines around the accumulator (and soft lines too) that can leak. The access point to those lines are practically right under your nose( under the center console) and it doesn't take a big leak to smell it in the cabin. Not saying the fuel cap isn't the problem, it would the first thing to try and if it's old, it needs to be replaced anyway.
    Last edited by Michael; 07-24-2021 at 09:53 PM.
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