[Solved] – Apartment Smells Like Car Exhaust

Staying in an apartment smells like car exhaust fume is hard for any normal human being. Before eliminating the smell, you should identify the reason first.

The top reasons for an Apartment Smell Like Car Exhaust are a wholly clogged exhaust, partial leakage, faulty flue ducts, blocked airflow, and so on.

According to Mayo Clinic, sometimes it’s nothing but an olfactory hallucination that your apartment smells like car exhaust. But if it’s real, you’re at risk of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. 

What Does It Mean If Apartment Smells Like Car Exhaust?

Most of the time, smelling exhaust means your house has carbon monoxide leakage somewhere else.

It could be a cracking issue of the heat exchanger, overheated furnace motor, and any electrical burning. If you smell exhaust gases in the house, it also could be due to an insufficient ventilation system. 

Different car exhaust smells could be confusing to finalize for you. According to Capitol Toyota, the rotten egg smell usually originates from a damaged catalytic converter. 

That means your house has hydrogen sulfide or sewer gas leakage. 

Feeling sweet-smelling exhaust means your house has burning coolant. If the exhaust smell is acute, your health is at stake. When the CO exhaust rate is above 150 PPM, it’s life-risking. 

Why does my apartment smell like car exhaust? 

The question “why does my house smell like exhaust fumes” has many possible answers. If your apartment smells like car exhaust, check the following facts.

Check the flue ducts.

In case your house smells like car exhaust, check the flue ducts. It could be rusted, or the parts might be separated.

So, why do I smell exhaust from that source? The exhaust air can’t escape properly and backfires in the home. 

Problematic airflow

Technical malfunction in the HVAC system can reverse the fumes back to the home. If there’s any unknown restriction, the airflow could be blocked.

Usually, the bird’s nest and the insect colony are seen. If I notice my house smells like car exhaust, I will check the airflow immediately.

my house smells like car exhaust

Presence of gasoline pollutants 

The garage-generated CO leakage could be responsible for affecting your home with gasoline pollutants.

People often ask – why am I constantly smelling car exhaust fumes in my house?

The reason is that your garage continuously supplies benzene, the prime gasoline pollutant.

Faulty furnace system

If your house smells like diesel exhaust, it’s a problem with the furnace system.

Sometimes, your furnace may smell like car exhaust as well.

Cracks in the furnace, oil splitting, etc., are common problems in a home furnace system. The more cracks develop in the oil burner, the more exhaust smell you find in the house. 

It’s from a neighbor’s house.

My apartment smells like car exhaust – not always due to your apartment problems. Some houses are built close to the neighbor’s residence. Maybe, your neighboring house is leaking odor, making your home uninhabitable. 

Should you be concerned if your Apartment Smells Like Car Exhaust?

After identifying “why does my house smell like car exhaust,” only a few care about it, but, there are many possible problems for humans from smells like car exhaust. 

Lung cancer risk

If someone is exposed to diesel exhaust for a long time, it could raise lung cancer.

Cancer.org says that IARC classifies diesel engine exhaust as “carcinogenic to humans.” Primarily, it’ll appear with problems like asthma. The patient will barely survive if the CO level from diesel exhaust is between 150-200 PPM.

Physical imbalance

Poisonous CO gas causes headache, dizziness, nausea, and develops weakness. Furthermore, you can feel uneasy with your nose and eyes.

Damages brain function

Breathing diesel exhaust stresses your brain. Long-term brain damage can occur by smelling car exhaust regularly. 

Mental fatigue

Overall, your house with car exhaust smell makes you mentally tired. As a result, you can’t concentrate on your daily activities. 

How to get rid of exhaust smell in the house

Let’s see how to efficiently eliminate the car exhaust smell from your house. 

Install an Air Purifier

Yes, installing an air purifier can significantly help. All you need to do is to find a good air purifier for exhaust fume. It will catch the foul odor and the pollutants in it to keep you safe.

Fixing the flue ducting

Fixing the flue ducting is a great way to solve the problem.

Step:1- Determining the problem

Enlighten the flue ducting to find any broken or rusty segments. A strong flashlight is needed to perform this part fruitfully. For safety reasons, don’t forget to shut off the entire system first. 

Step:2- Fix the rust

If the flue ducting isn’t completely wasted, it’s fixable. Apply a wire brush to disappear rust. Using mineral spirit is recommended to de-grease the affected portions.

After doing these, a small amount of rust won’t go. It’ll need some coats of zinc-rich cold galvanizing spray paint. Finally, it takes 30 minutes to dry and place the flue back.  

Step:3- Fixing the broken part

Replacing the broken part with the new one is recommended. Cover all the gaps with moldable sealants. You’ll need entire insulation if it’s about covering a sizeable broken part. 

Resetting the airflow

Try resetting the airflow.

Step:1- Finding blockage type

Airflow may get resisted by living organs or various sizes of debris. In the case of a bird’s nest, gently remove it and fix the airflow. Sometimes, they nest near the chimney, and you have no choice without its replacement. Sometimes, construction debris in the air duct also hinders airflow. 

The most common blockages are:

  • Presence of rodents or birds inside the vent
  • Stuck branches or leaves in brushes
  • Snow blocking issue
  • Soot buildup in the vent
  • Fully or partially damaged vent by any kind of hit
  • Corrosion attack in vent

According to the HVAC training shop, your furnace cannot remove dangerous combustion compounds from the air in your home. 

Step:2- Cleaning debris

Start by opening the vent pipe to extract debris from it. To remove sticky dirt, apply a brush. Using an air duct cleaning vacuum is also encouraged. 

Handling garage fumes

You can also handle the garage fumes.

Step:1- Seal the cracks

Find all the garage cracks first. Then, mark them and seal the holes. If there isn’t any air-tight door, take steps to install it. An air-tight door will lock the fumes, helping to prevent your apartment from being affected by car exhaust. 

Step:2- Be careful while burning

Use a separate exhaust vent while burning oil or gas. Run the process at a convenient place to direct fumes outside. The Dedicated House suggests installing a CO detector to understand the risk level exactly. When the CO level is exceptionally high, the detector will alarm a sound. 

Fixing the furnace system

If the problem is with the furnace, solve that.

Step:1- Checking the thermostat

Clean the air filter and check if it’s faulty. If you find it okay, check the thermostat. A faulty thermostat must be replaced.

Sometimes, repairing the thermostat could work, but it’ll be defective sooner or later. Here are some signs you should follow to understand the furnace system thermostat. 

  • No power in the thermostat
  • Turning on and off problem with the heater
  • Imbalance in room temperature and thermostat

Step:2- Inspecting air duct

There might be handles protruding from the ducts. Check if they’re parallel to each other and fully open. Meet a consultant if you find it hard to reassemble the air duct. 

Dealing with the water heater

Is it the water heater? Then follow the process below.

Step:1- Get a new type.

An atmospheric vent water heater is risky for fume exposure. Go for the power-vented heater because it uses a fan to remove gases. 

Step:2- Replacing its parts

Find the leakage area, and check if you can do some welding there. If it’s hard, go for a new one. 


When your apartment smells like car exhaust, it’s easily fixable. If you know the exact reason, you might deal with minor problems. So, why does it smell like car exhaust in my house? The reasons are primarily with the furnace, airflow, and ducting system. 

But why am I constantly smelling car exhaust fumes? The reason is your room is contaminated with a source of toxic fume. Check if your neighbor is the reason or if your adjacent garage is.

Home Advisor Blog

Home Advisor Blog is a reader-supported blog. This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Sitemap: https://homeadvisorblog.com/sitemap_index.xml