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VW Beetle Repair: gasoline smell

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WARNING It goes without saying here, but gasoline is explosive and volatile. That means that if you open the fuel system, even the vents, the fumes will get out and can form an explosive mixture with the air. It's a vastly better idea to do any of this work with the fuel system outside.

Ever since I bought the car, it had an ittermittent gasoline smell inside. It definitely increased shortly after a left turn; more when the tank was full. It happened all the time regardless of how much I used the heater, so I decided it wasn't from the exhaust system in the heater. The guy I bought the car from told me it was just a leaky gas cap, and since the mechanic I had check it out before buying it told me the same thing, I figured that must be it. Nope.

When the car was in the garage with the front trunk open, there was definitely a stronger gas smell than when it was closed. After a few days of sitting like that, though, the gas smell would go away. Take it out for a drive, though, and the smell was back.

I tried replacing the hose that goes from the filler nozzle to the tank; that didn't do it. In desperation, I filled the entire area around the input hose with expanding foam, thinking that it was a pin-point leak somewhere in that area. That didn't work either. (One day I'm going to have to remove that foam. It's all a learning process.)

However, during the winter of 2007-2008, I seem to have fixed the problem. Here's the area around the filler pipe: The two thicker vent hoses had woven covers; I'd guess from the clamps that they were original to the car, or at least had been put on by some sort of dealer clamping device. I realized that the lower part of the hoses were slightly wet with gasoline. I figured that might be the source. So I replaced the hoses with 5/8-inch fuel line.

I took it out driving at the end of May with the speaker grill removed from the dash, so there was lots of air blowing through the luggage compartment (where the gas tank is) at me, and in two trips around town, there was no discernable gas smell. So I think that must have been it.


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