Most cars have minimal odour to their exhaust. It smells like, well, exhaust, but it’s not terribly strong. This is thanks in large part to the catalytic converter. However, some cars seem to have really smelly exhaust fumes due to a number of different reasons (depending on the smell in question). In most cases when you smell strong exhaust fumes, there is an underlying issue that needs to be dealt with. These underlying issues can more than often cause serious health problems to the driver and anybody else in the car, if not dealt with before it gets worse.

Here are some of the common problems that do cause this smoke to exit your exhaust system:

Malfunctioning Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter is essential to a safely functioning vehicle. This important component works to oxidize and reduce harmful gases. If it malfunctions, you may notice a strong odour, which may smell like sulphur. It’s important to get your vehicle checked out right away if you smell these types of fumes.

Oxygen Sensor Issue

The oxygen sensor helps measure exhaust gases when they leave the combustion chamber and in turn adjusts the amount of fuel entering the engine accordingly. If the reading is incorrect, the wrong amount of fuel may be sent to the engine and it is not all being burned off. This in turn causes strong-smelling fumes that will have the odour of gasoline.

Fuel Injector Clog

Another reason why you may sense fumes that smell strongly of gasoline is if there’s a problem with the fuel injector. This may be a clog or other problem with the fuel injector that allows it to send too much gas to the engine. If this is the issue, it can usually be easily remedied with an engine tune up.


Diesel exhaust smells much stronger than the exhaust from a gasoline engine. You’ll also notice that the exhaust is darker, particularly on large trucks with powerful diesel engines.


If the exhaust smells like gasoline, it’s a sign that the air/fuel mixture is off in the engine and too much fuel is being added to too little oxygen.

Leaking Seals and oil burning

If what you are smelling is like burnt oil, you could have a problem with your seals. Leaking seals can cause the engine to burn oil and create a foul scent. If this is the problem, you may also notice leaking or dripping oil or smoke in a bluish colour coming from the tailpipe.

Whenever you notice strong exhaust fumes, it is a potential health hazard. These gases can be very harmful if breathed in, so if you experience any odd or strong doors, you should have your vehicle diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible. By noticing and being proactive about the fumes, you can keep your vehicle and passengers safe on the road. At Riet River Auto we have skilled professionals with hi-Tec equipment to help diagnose and in turn solve the problem, drop us a message or come on down if any of these problems are present in your car, it could be a life saver and changer.

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