Why Does the Inside of My Car Smell Like Exhaust Fumes?

Why Does the Inside of My Car Smell Like Exhaust Fumes?

26th Apr 2018

view of car dashboard with man's arm on steering wheel

Got Exhaust Fumes?

Does the inside of your car smell like exhaust fumes? Conventional wisdom should tell that you that this isn't normal, and turning a blind eye to it could lead to health issue. Exhaust fumes contain carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and other potentially harmful compounds. While short-term exposure to small amounts shouldn't cause any immediate need for concern, long-term exposure to high levels of exhaust fumes can certainly take a toll on your health. In some cases, it can even cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Leaking Window or Door Seals

Sometimes the cause of exhaust fumes in the cabin is nothing more than a leaking window or door seal. If air is allowed to enter you car through a door or window seal, it may inadvertently smell like exhaust fumes. Thankfully, this problem is easily fixed by replacing the failing seal.

Leaking Exhaust Manifold

Perhaps the most common cause of exhaust fumes in the cabin is a leaking exhaust manifold  Consisting of metal pipes connecting the engine's cylinders to the exhaust pipe, it's responsible for guiding exhaust fumes away from the engine. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for exhaust manifolds to crack and leak. You to have to remember that exhaust manifolds are exposed to extremely hot exhaust fumes, often reaching 1,200 degrees. The constant heating and cooling of the manifold can weaken its structural integrity, causing it to crack. And once a crack occurs, exhaust fumes will leak out and into the engine bay, where they are sucked into the cabin.

Clogged Catalytic Converter

Another possible cause of exhaust fumes in the cabin is a clogged catalytic converter. Found between the exhaust manifold and the end of the tailpipe, this component is responsible for filtering some of the harmful fumes from your vehicle's exhaust. Over time, however, it may become clogged with particulate matter, restricting the flow of exhaust and causing it to leak. As the exhaust fumes leak from the catalytic converter -- or other nearby components -- it may get sucked into your car's cabin.

Don't turn a blind eye to exhaust fumes in your car's cabin. If you smell exhaust, stop driving and diagnose the problem. Exhaust fumes are toxic and can lead to health problems if ignored. The good news is that most causes of exhaust fumes in the cabin are relatively easy to fix.

exhaust fumes graphic