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Gas Fumes After Freeze in Winter

I’ve got a 2003 Subaru Forester that has problems causing it to emit really bad gas fumes after a freeze and thaw. I didn’t have the problem the first couple of years I owned it (probably because I lived in an area where freezing temps were rare). I’m still not in a particularly cold area (LR, AR), but I started having problems with overwhelming gas fumes the first winter after the move.

This problem only occurs when we have below freezing temperatures. It doesn’t happen until temps start to warm up. It usually lasts 2-3 days after the freeze.

The Subaru dealership said the fuel filter needed cleaning because what ever froze started dripping on the air filter when temperatures warmed up. Cleaning the fuel filter only works for a few weeks. Then it’s back to gas fumes.

I figured out I could keep the fumes from being overwhelming inside the car by turning on recirculated air as soon as I start the car, but the smell outside from several feet away is very strong.

I’m posting here in case anyone has ideas on how to fix this more permanently.


Raw gas fumes? (as opposed to exhaust fumes)

You need to get a mechanic with a hydrocarbon “sniffer” to find the leak. Start looking in the vicinity of the fuel filter. I think there is a slow, constant leak.

Gasoline is a blend of different components with different boiling points. In cold weather the heaviest components can gather near the site of the leak and not evaporate. Then when it gets warmer they evaporate all at once and make the smell

Yes. They’re raw gas fumes. Thank you so much. I’ll take the info to my mechanic. That explanation fits the symptoms perfectly.

It is common problem on early 2000’s Subaru’s. One check and it appears to be correcting the problem is to simply check the fuel line connections at the fuel filter itself.

Other area’s are in the fuel rail.