What does a gas cap do?

Your gas cap acts as a barrier: it keeps contaminants out of your fuel tank while keeping the fuel itself and any vapors in.
This can reduce your car’s emissions, and a working gas cap is necessary to pass a state-mandated smog test.

How do I know if I need a gas cap replacement?

There are a couple of situations where your gas cap might need replacing:
  • It is missing
  • It is visibly broken
  • You’ve failed a smog or emissions test
  • Your check engine light is on
Your car’s computer system can detect if the gas cap is loose and causing any specific malfunctions. When this happens, your check engine light will illuminate, but you won’t know the particular error unless you have an OBD code reader.
Of course, it’s possible to drive with a broken gas cap and face few repercussions. However, it’s in your best interest to get a replacement as soon as you notice a problem—especially if you have to submit to annual emissions testing or if the gas cap has fallen off completely.

How to perform a gas cap replacement

Luckily, replacing a gas cap is a very simple maintenance service. All the mechanic needs to do is:
  • Examine the gas cap (if it’s still there), including performing a pressure test
  • Remove it if faulty
  • Install a new cap
  • Test the new one to make sure it performs
Depending on the caliber of your car, a new gas cap can cost anywhere from $100 to around $300.

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