Why Your ATV or UTV Smells Like Gas

Almost anyone who’s ever owned an ATV or UTV or spent time around them has experienced a moment where they’re hit by a strong, pungent smell of gasoline. When cars reek of gas, people get worried. ATVs aren’t cars, but it doesn’t mean the gas smell is normal.

Why does your ATV or UTV smell like gas? Most Likely, the gas you’re smelling is coming from a leak or a loose gas cap. Much like with cars, an ATV or UTV that smells like gas is a signal that you need to check out the potential problem.

Having an ATV or UTV that smells like gas is a common issue, but it’s not necessarily a reason to panic in all cases. Before you assume something is seriously wrong with your ATV or UTV, take a deep breath, and read up on what this common issue may be caused by and how to fix it.

Why Does My ATV/UTV Smell Like Gas?

In some cases, a strong gas-like odor coming from an ATV or UTV could be indicative of a leak. In other cases, it could be a loose gas cap or even vapors that are emitting from a warmed-up tank. Or, there may be nothing wrong and that is just the way your ATV’s exhaust smells. 

There are a lot of reasons why an ATV or UTV could smell like gas. Here is how you can troubleshoot or fix most of the common problems associated with that benzene-rich scent.

How To Troubleshoot (and Hopefully Fix) Your ATV’s Gas Smell

There are a number of things you should look for to determine the cause of your ATV or UTV smelling like gas. Hopefully, it is one of the easier fixes and you can get back to riding without much delay or cost.

Before you try to do anything, stop your ATV and turn it off. A running motor is a good way to get mangled hands. You need to make sure there aren’t any moving parts before you start to troubleshoot.

Grab a flashlight and look at the gas hose. The most common reason for a strong gas smell is a leak in the fuel line. So, you will need to take a look at the fuel line to make sure there’s no leak. If you see any holes or loose parts, you will need to fix your fuel line before you ride again. 

Check the air filter. A broken or old air filter can sometimes cause gas fumes to leak out. 

Check for signs of a flooded carburetor. When gas and oil leaks all over the carburetor, there’s a good chance you will begin to smell an odor similar to gas. To see if this is the case, check for pools of oil or gas in the carburetor. If you notice flooding, chances are that your carburetor’s float is leaking or flooded. This means you may need to replace or clean the float valve. 

Check the gas cap. A loose gas cap can cause vapors from the gas tank to leak out into the atmosphere. If the cap feels wiggly, push the gas cap in. If it still remains loose, you may need to get a new gas cap, as there could be a crack in yours.

Check for puddles underneath your ATV. If you’ve stored your ATV for a while, carburetor problems and otherwise-unforeseen leaks might be spotted through puddles that eke out under the body of the machine. If you find a puddle, you know you have a leak, and have to keep searching until you find it.

Check the temperature where you are riding. ATVs don’t carry as much gas as a regular car does. This can cause things to go awry when the weather heats up. If your outdoor temperature recently increased significantly, then some of the gas may have vaporized and released itself into the area around your ATV. This happens naturally and isn’t a big deal as long as there was a weather change.

How Bad Can A Gas Smell-Related Issue Be?

It all depends on what is causing your ATV or UTV to smell like gas. If your gas odor is caused by fumes on a hot day, you shouldn’t be too worried. On the other hand, a flooded carburetor or fuel leak can become a serious problem if left unchecked for too long. 

A fuel leak can be a serious issue, and not just because of lost fuel costs. If left alone, a fuel leak can quickly turn into a potential fire hazard. An ATV with a fuel leak is not considered to be safe to drive, even if it’s a tiny leak. 

Is The Smell Of Gas Around An ATV Always A Bad Sign?

Though it can be a warning of a serious mechanical failure, smelling gas around your ATV doesn’t always mean something is wrong. If the gas just heated up to vapor, your ATV will end up smelling like gas regardless of how well-kept it is.

How to Keep my ATV or UTV from Stinking up my Garage

The smell of gas can be overpowering for people with sensitive senses of smell, especially if your ATV has a vapor issue. If the smell of the gas has become too strong for your nose to handle, simply leave it parked outside and let it air out. 

That being said, if you notice the smell of gas getting stronger despite your ATV not being turned on, it may be a good idea to call in a mechanic who can help you determine what’s going on. Fixes for this particular symptom can be more involved than many people want to deal with,

When is a Gas Smell not An Issue?

Generally speaking, people should always exercise caution when they’re noticing signs of a gas leak in a motor vehicle—ATVs and UTVs included. However, there are times when you shouldn’t be too worried. These include:

  • The local weather had a major change involving a spike in temperatures. Higher temperatures will cause gas to vaporize and escape from the ATV’s motor. If it’s a scorching summer day, most ATVs will smell like gas to some extent. 
  • Your ATV has been checked over recently, and no sign of a gas leak, loose cap, or flooded carb has been seen. Some ATV models just don’t seem to hold gas vapor in well. If you have a model that’s known for smelling like gas after a run, you probably don’t have to check it every time you ride. It is a good idea to check out the forums and find out if this is a normal issue for your make and model.
  • A qualified mechanic checked it over and said it’s normal. A good sign that your ATV just has a natural tendency towards a leak is to ask a mechanic. If he looks at it and says you’re good to go, you should be alright. 


ATVs and UTVs have a reputation for smelling like gas for a reason. It’s a fairly common symptom that affects almost every ATV at one point or another. If you catch a mild whiff of gas, it could just be a matter of vapors escaping the machine. However, if the smell is particularly strong, you might have a bigger problem on your hands.

If you find an issue due to the smell, don’t panic. It’s probably something easy to fix. Though most ATV owners are comfortable with working on their own vehicles, this doesn’t mean that everyone should do it. If you do not feel comfortable with looking into your engine or trying to make more difficult repairs, it’s better to hire someone to do it for you. 

Overall, having an ATV that smells like gas should be taken as a signal to slow down and check things out. While it could be nothing, a little caution can help prevent a small problem from turning into a far bigger issue.

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Brent Huntley

Brent Huntley is the owner of ATV Man and is responsible for almost all the material on the website. He also runs photographyandtravel.com and loves to travel and ride ATVs with his family. When he isn't playing, his day job consists of owning Huntley Law.

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