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Fuel odor + starting issue


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2003 Boxster S 3.2:
I'm having a problem that has 2 symptoms:

The first is a strong fuel smell. It is very noticeable at traffic lights or stop signs. As I start moving, it is as though I'm driving right through a wall of fumes 2 feet ahead of me. Naturally, it is more noticeable when the roof is down.

The 2nd symptom is that I have to crank the engine for several seconds and depress the accelerator pedal to get it to fire if it has been sitting for more than half an hour or so, when it used to fire right up.

There is no CEL and the dash light does illuminate at startup, so I believe it works.

There does not seem to be any link to fuel level or refueling.

There are no obvious drops of fuel anywhere along the fuel lines, and nothing on the garage floor.

I have checked all the lines connected to the charcoal canister and I even tried drawing air through them with a MightyVac to ensure they weren't clogged. I am not sure which ones are controlled by valves, so I don't know if that did anything good or not.

I have removed the battery tray and checked for leaks, cracks, loose cover, etc on the fuel tank. It all looks tight and dry.
I have replaced the fuel filler cap.

Any thoughts?
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Are you sure the smell is coming from the front of the car? Try taking a whiff of the exhaust with the engine running right after you first crank the engine and see if you smell gas there. If so, you might just have leaky injectors; that would explain why it is worse after you let the car sit for a while and why you have to floor it.

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2003 Boxster S 3.2:
I'm having a problem that has 2 symptoms: The first is a strong fuel smell. It is very noticeable at traffic lights or stop signs. As I start moving, it is as though I'm driving right through a wall of fumes 2 feet ahead of me. Naturally, it is more noticeable when the roof is down. The 2nd symptom is that I have to crank the engine for several seconds and depress the accelerator pedal to get it to fire if it has been sitting for more than half an hour or so, when it used to fire right up. There is no CEL and the dash light does illuminate at startup, so I believe it works. There does not seem to be any link to fuel level or refueling.There are no obvious drops of fuel anywhere along the fuel lines, and nothing on the garage floor.I have checked all the lines connected to the charcoal canister and I even tried drawing air through them with a MightyVac to ensure they weren't clogged. I am not sure which ones are controlled by valves, so I don't know if that did anything good or not.I have removed the battery tray and checked for leaks, cracks, loose cover, etc on the fuel tank. It all looks tight and dry.
I have replaced the fuel filler cap.Any thoughts?

First of all, you should not be smelling fuel, something is not right. As on your car, the fuel tank is just ahead of the windshield, it sounds like you have a leak somewhere in the tank system that is expelling fumes if not liquid fuel. Add in that you appear to be suffering a fuel pressure bleed down, which is causing your hot start issues, you seriously need to get this looked at before something nasty happens. It may still be the fuel pump/sender unit. If you are uncomfortable trying to sort this, take it to a pro.

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  • 2 weeks later...

An update: I had a pro check it out and he forced smoke into the fuel system to see where it was leaking. Confirming what I heard from several people on this and other boards, there was a leak in the sending unit. I looked at that unit using a magnifier and strong light and never saw a thing.

Just goes to show what the right tools and experience can do.

Thanks for the replies.

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