CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

1993 Subaru Legacy barely runs, 1/4 of gas in 5 minutes

I bought this car (1993 Subaru Legacy L Non-Turbo) a few days ago, the guy i bought it from said the only thing it needed was a new fuel injector because it was sticking open, I bought a new injector and it worked for a day then started smoking a ton out of the exhaust, I took it home and the Cat eventually failed now its spraying gas out the exhaust pipe. A 1/4 tank in 5 minutes idling.

I know for sure the fuel injectors are opening and closing, I also know for sure that it has spark in each cylinder…

I tried to get the codes but someone has removed the LED light that is suppose to flash for the number, but i was able to hear it click on and off. Im not positive of the clicks and don’t want to buy a 300 dollar part for nothing.



The codes I think they are: 11- Crank Angle Sensor, 21- Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor, 31- Throttle Sensor, and 41- Air / Fuel Learning Control Function



Optional Information:

Year: 1993

Make: Subaru

Model: Legacy L

Engine: 2.2L Non-Turbo

The fuel pressure may be way too high. Measure it.
The fuel pressure regulator may not be limiting fuel pressure to the correct value. Measure fuel pressure.
The engine coolant temperature sensor may be disconnected, or have a very COLD indication. Measure it (ohms, volts).
Measure the ohms and volts of the MAF (Mass Air Flow) Sensor.
Use a Haynes, or Chilton’s Repair Manual, and a good multimeter.
The www.autozone.com site gives a lot of good information for your Subie. http://www.autozone.com/autozone/repairinfo/repairguide/repairGuideContent.jsp?chapterTitle=Electronic+Engine+Controls&partName=Manifold+Air+Pressure++MAP++Sensor&pageId=0900c15280066ef0&subChapterTitle=Mass+Airflow+Sensor&partId=0900c15280066ef9

Without the light you’re just guessing at the codes. Someone disconnected the light for a reason. This is called fraud.

I’d stop before I spent any more money. You’re going to have more in parts than the car is worth, and it still may not run.

I agree with mcparadise.
Either the person who sold the car to you, or a previous owner of the car, removed the indicator light in order to conceal multiple (expensive) problems. Considering the book value of this car, I really think that you would be better-off junking the car and starting from scratch with something in better condition.

This car is going to be an incredible money-pit if you attempt to fix all of the likely problems that it has.

The checks with the multimeter, if you do them yourself, don’t cost a thing.

The checks can be done at no cost.
The probable repairs? That is another thing entirely.

But, if the OP can so some checking/testing himself, he can at least get a fairly good idea of what may be involved in fixing up this car.

With raw gas coming out of the exhaust pipe, check for a leaking fuel pressure regulator. If the diaphram in the fuel pressure regulator has developed a leak, gas will be drawn into the engine via the vacuum hose to the regulator. Remove the vacuum hose from the regulator, and if gas leaks out of the hose/regulator, the regulator is leaking, and that’s what’s loading the engine up with raw gas.

Tester

Thanks for your ideas guys! Ill check them out. I’m able and know how to do all those test so I’ll check it out.
yesterday I was messing around with it and all the sudden it wouldnt start. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, then I checked the oil…
on a scale of 1-10 if (1) being normal level it was a 10, i would say probably an inch to an inch and a half higher then the full mark…
What kind of a retard does that. Im going to drain the oil out today and pull the plugs, hopefully nothing was damaged severely.
Do you guys think that an oil level that high could cause all my problems?

The flood of gasoline into the engine may have caused the high oil reading. Does the oil have a gasoline odor?

It does smell like gasoline… what would cause that?

A leaking fuel pressure regulator will cause the oil to be contaminated with gas.

Tester

I think there is no doubt the fuel pressure regulator is bad and causing the trouble. Be careful if you change out the oil yourself as it will be be very flammable.

Thanks guys! What precautions should I take other then the usual?

The oil you drain from this poor old Subaru may be up to 50% gasoline, based on your description of what’s happening. Take whatever precautions you deem necessary.

If you didn’t check the oil until after you bought the car and drove it home there’s not much we can do to help you.

Why would you believe someone who said, “All it needs is a fuel injector?”

I didn’t say I believed him, that’s just what he said. I knew from looking at it that it had more wrong… But it was 375 bucks so I figured what the heck.

If there really is that much gasoline contaminating the oil, I’d be worried about the condition of the bearings by this point.

I guess you’re not losing much if you only paid $375 for the car, but it sure sounds to me like it’s almost ready for the automobile afterlife.

I have ordered the fuel pressure regulator so when that gets here I’ll put it in and let you guys know if that was the issue or not.

I put a used fuel pressure regulator on the car and it runs great now. Thanks for all your help guys

Good deal. Thanks for the feedback.

Good for you that you lucked out on that guess that it was a faulty fuel pressure regulator. You could have easily taken the guess out of it by measuring the fuel pressure. Anyway, continued good luck and happy motoring.