My Nissan Pulsar (N15) 1998 has been smelling a bit like gasoline from within the cabin, which I think (bad memory) only occurs during my morning commute to work. It is cold but not that cold (10 - 15 Degrees Celsius) and I do currently have oil leaking out of the distributor, not sure if related though.

The car is low kilometerage (120,000Kms), and I am unaware of any other issues the car may have.

The engine is the GA16DE with fuel injection.

Just wanted some help potentially diagnosing this issue. I had a look for similar questions but no luck.

Any advice is appriciated.

3 Answers 3


You may have an actual fuel leak and this being an older car, that is certainly a consideration. Check the fuel tank, the fuel lines from the tank to the engine, the fuel filter, and the fuel connections on the engine for rust and/or leaks.

The most common cause, however, is a problem with the "EVAP" system. This could be due to a failed gas cap or a saturated charcoal canister. Either check those yourself or have them checked at a shop.

No, an oil leak will not smell like gasoline.

  • I had a quick look underneath this morning during the cold start and I could smell the fuel smell a little bit but not much. I looked underneath the car towards the fuel tank and couldn't spot any visible exhaust smoke (Was cold enough to see the exhaust smoke coming out the tail end of the exhaust). However I could hear a "hissing" kind of noise, as if something was leaking. I'll be able to take it a "DIY" garage shop where I can get it lifted and have a proper look at the fuel lines and the the charcoal canister. Aug 8, 2020 at 6:13

If it's smelling a bit like gasoline it could also be exhaust gases entering the cabin through possibly a leak in the exhaust from rust/corrosion and then through a small leak in the cabin. The reason this may only occur in the morning is because when the engine is cold more fuel is injected than usual which will help the engine heat up quicker and often cars can be more smelly in the morning for this reason.

If it is the case that you have an actual fuel leak, a problem with the evap system as stated in the previous answer or exhaust gases entering the cabin either way they are creating an unsafe and hazardous environment for you to be driving your car in and you should get it inspected professionally asap.

And yes just like the first answer stated oil smell is very distinguishable from petrol but if you have a few smells mixed together it may cause some confusion and all the more reason it will need to have a professional inspection.

  • I've had the car up on lift a few times before and it looked pretty good for rust. Although, I didn't have the best of looks and as I stated in my other comment, I was able to hear a "hissing" sound coming from the back end near the fuel tank. Will have to have a proper look when I can get it up on a lift. Aug 8, 2020 at 6:14

Look for the easy answer. I had that problem with an '85 Nissan 300ZX . I just looked under the hood with the engine running and found a wet, not-tight connector in the fuel injector lines . Fix only required that I buy an extra long phillips screwdriver and use it.

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