What To Do If Your Boat Smells Like Gas

A boat that has been sitting shouldn’t smell like gas and if it does, then it means you have a leak somewhere.

If your boat smells like gas, you need to open all compartments and let it vent into the outside air. Do not turn the engine on! It’s vital you take precaution as the gas fumes are flammable and without doing proper venting into the outside air can cause an explosion as these videos show.  

Once you let the boat vent a bit, you need to find the source of the gas leak.

Where To Check For Gas Leaks On Boat

Common places to check for gas/fuel leaks on a boat:

  • Check the fuel lines for cracks or holes
  • Check the fuel tank for cracks or holes
  • Check the engine for leaks
  • Check the fuel filler hoses and surrounding area
  • Check fuel pump
  • Check fuel rails
  • Check to make sure someone didn’t put gas in the wrong hole and dump into your bilge.
  • Check for loose clamps

It was not uncommon for me to see people make the mistake of putting gas in the wrong hull and dumping gallons of gasoline into the bilge of a boat. Always double-check the guy filling your boat and the new guy too.

You need to locate the area that is leaking gas and fix it. It may require replacing hoses, clamps or even the fuel tank itself. Find where the smell is the strongest and start from there. Look for any rusted parts or obvious signs of fuel dripping.

Important: This kind of thing is best left to the dealership, gasoline is highly flammable and leaking fuel is hazardous to the water and land.

How Do You Get The Smell Of Gas Out Of A Boat?

Once you’ve fixed the gas leak, you’ll need to get rid of the gas smell in your boat.

The best way to do this is to ventilate the area by opening all compartments and hatches and letting fresh air in.

You must do this in a well-ventilated area, so a closed garage does not count.

Avoid turning on fans and anything electrical as to not start a fire near the boat due to an electric motor turning on.

It’s also a good idea to open the engine compartment of an inboard engine boat when fueling, docking, or storing the boat to let it air out a bit. If you’re idling your boat or coming into a long no-wake zone, it’s also a good idea to have the blower fan going too.

I Smell Gas When Refueling My Boat, Is That Bad?

Smelling gas when you fill up your boat is normal, gas is getting splashed around and smelling it is fine.

One thing you should avoid when refueling your boat is running the blower, as you run the risk of sucking in the gas fumes, which is not what we want. When you’re done refueling your boat, you can then turn the blower on to get any fumes out of the bilge. Run the blower for 5 minutes before starting your engine.

It’s when you’re done refueling, and you still smell gas that it can become a problem, especially after you’ve run the blower.

I Smell Gas In My Garage With My Boat?

If you smell gas in your garage where your boat is kept, you need to open the garage right away and vent your boat.

The smell of gas should not be the dominated smell of your garage when you keep your boat in it. There is a gas leak, and you need to fix that right after you let the boat and garage vent for a bit.

Should You Start A Boat That Smells Like Gas?

If your boat smells like gas, the last thing you should be doing is turning it on.

It’s the fuel vapors that you smell that ignite and if there is enough trapped in your boat it will literally explode.

Ethanol Gas And Older Boats

A common trend I’m seeing is that ethanol gas is doing damage to older boats, as they tend to eat the fuel lines and rubber components of older boats.

Having ethanol become a normal thing at the pump didn’t start to take off until the early 2010s, and it’s only gotten worse. So if your boat is made before the 2010s, then you need to pay extra attention to gas smells and the damage that is being done to it.

If you run ethanol gas in your boat, then get some fuel stabilizers for marine engines (ad) that combat the effects of ethanol.

Why Do Boats Leak Fuel Overtime?

Boats operate in a harsh environment, especially when used in saltwater.

Saltwater always finds a way, and it will corrode any metal, even aluminum, when given enough time. Most of your clamps on your boat that contain the fuel also rust, along with the metal parts that are used.

Along with rough waves and the constant hitting of the water, things can come loose and get damaged.

This is why pre-ride inspections are so important for boats, and you should trust your senses, like smell, when it comes to your boat.

Trust Your Nose!

As a boat owner, one of the best tools you have is your nose!

If you smell something burning, look for the cause, as there maybe something burning. If you smell gas, find the cause as something maybe causing it.

Never brush off your boat smelling like gas, it’s very dangerous if there is a gas leak, and you’re not doing the correct steps to fix it.