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Chevrolet Malibu: Fuel Smell and Check Engine Light

What do you do when your Malibu smells like fuel and the check engine light is on? Start with the basics — diagnostic codes don’t always lead right to the faulty part. Follow this Real Fix to see the simple solution to these issues.

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What do you do when your Malibu smells like fuel and the check engine light is on? Start with the basics — diagnostic codes don’t always lead right to the faulty part. Follow this Real Fix to see the simple solution to these issues.

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Vehicle

1998 Chevrolet Malibu 3.1

Title

P0420, Replaced Fuel Injector Seals

Complaint

The customer states the check engine light is on and fuel smell is present when driving.

Cause

Performed a road test to check for any driveability concerns and found a strong fuel smell was present. Connected a scan tool and found code P0420 – Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1). Engine on, performed a visual inspection of the engine and found fuel leaked from the fuel injectors. Upon further inspection, found fuel leaked from the fuel injector seals between the injectors and the fuel rail. The leaking fuel injectors affected the pressure and volume and caused the engine to go into a lean misfire. They also increased the hydrocarbon levels in the exhaust stream. The catalytic converter was unable to compensate for high hydrocarbon levels and caused the P0420 code to set.

Correction

Replaced the fuel injector seals, cleared codes, performed a road test and verified the vehicle operated properly. The check engine light did not illuminate and no fault codes returned. The car no longer has a fuel smell.

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