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Gas smell

Hi. We have a 2001 Subaru Outback standard shift. In the cold weather, there is a very strong gas/exhaust odor coming into the car when the heat is turned on. This happens even if the heat has already warmed up but does usually eventually clear after some time…but that could be a long time when it’s freezing out.

Since we live in Brighton, Ma…I would consider bringing the car into your place in Cambridge. All our mechanics, including the dealer, have not been able to fix it for about 2 years now. HELP!!!


Tom and Jerry don’t answer these posts; but, maybe somebody will come up with their telephone number.
Clarify what you smell. Do you smell gasoline, or, do you smell exhaust inside the vehicle?

Oh my Gosh…I thought I was just losing it! I also have an 01 Outback Ltd Wagon with the same gas/oil smell. I took it to Cascade in Akron Ohio and left the car running with the windows up so it would knock you over when you opened the door. Amazingly they were unable to smell it??? However for $500.00 we could try some various things and see if we can duplicate it?? What??? The smell brought tears to my eyes and I could barely drive it (by pushing the recycle air it kept the smell from coming in the car). After a supposed valve gasket replacement I took it to a local mechanic and it was a breather hose that was unplugged. Although it’s helped a lot (at a cost of only $35.00 versus wanting $500.00 ish each time with no result) I thought that was wonderful. It still smells to this day and at times but is at least tolerable “barely”. I’ve come to realize it’s going to always smell and will never be the same. It currently has about 130,000 on it and had to have that same valve cover replacement that was done a year ago by the dealer. This time Subaru North America actually refunded over $550.00 of the cost to fix it since the original repair was done poorly. Unfortunately I’m starting to think it’s time to move on to a newer better version… (Our local dealers apparently think all of us have money trees in the back yard!!) Subaru America is great and I will purchase again as for the local dealers…BAD very BAD! Avoid at all cost!!! :slight_smile: Good Luck…David

Gas. But then it slowly resolves as the car warms up.
Any ideas?

Charcoal canister?

I have the same problem with my Subaru Outback. Mechanics have worked repeatedly to resolve this. I believe this to be a potential health and fire hazard. I have reported it to the NTSB and recommend others do the same. The problem occurs during cold westher. Parts of the fuel lines shrink or become stiff and loose their seal against unlike parts (metal to syntetic rubber, etc.). Fuel leaks on to hot engine parts and vaporizes. The vapor is drawn into the passenger compartment.

I also have a 2001 Subaru Outback automatic that I get a very strong raw gas smell when it is really cold - below 15 - 20 degrees. I had it checked last year and they could not find anything wrong. (local repair shop) This only started last year - mine has 142,000 miles.

Sure are alot of subaru questions, Just curious if it only happens when the tank is full or no matter what amount of fuel is in the tank.

I also have a 2001 Outback with the same issue. It only smells like gas when it is cold. Ive looked for leaking injectors and fuel lines, but can’t find anything wet. I also live around Boston, so it gets cold here for a long period of time in the winter.
If anyone has fixed this issue, please post your fix.

It is a design flaw in early 2000’s Legacy/Outback/Impreza.

Sometimes its the length of hose or clamps loose on the passenger side of the vehicle between the fuel rail and intake manifold leaking fuel out.

Mine too!!! I have a 2001 Forester and I get a strong gas smell every time the outside temperature goes below about 27 degrees. I drove with all my windows down on a 20 degree day last month because the smell was so strong. It does seem to diminish as the car heats up after maybe 20 or so minutes. I told my mechanic about the smell but the temp hasn’t been that cold when I was able to get to the garage. Because it only happens when it’s very cold, I figured it may have to do with parts contracting.

I have a 2001 Outback Wagon, 114,000 mile, and when the temp dropped below freezing my car started smelling of fuel when I got off the highway too! I have to park it outside and let it cool off before putting it in the garage or the whole house smells of gas! I’m due for an oil change this week but after reading up on this problem I dread taking it in for this problem! I want it fixed and I’m willing to pay but don’t want a freaking run around. Has anyone had it fixed thru the dealership and if so, what was the charge? Thanks.

I have a Subaru Outback 2001. Recently it was taken in for some serious $$$$ work. I also smelled gas. Since it has been returned it still smells like gas but no one but me (the driver) can smell it. It doesn’t matter if the tank is full or close to empty. Today (which is the 2nd day driving it since being in the shop) it was very strong of gas and I am under a half a tank. I need to have the dealership check it out again but seriously with the amount that was just paid to have it fixed (which if I told you you would probably wonder why I didn’t buy another one) I can’t afford to pay out for anymore adjustments.

Never fear I’ve found the answer to your problem. I too have a Subaru. It’s a 2000 Legacy GT Limited sedan. We’ve dealt with this problem for a while now and I struggled to get an answer. Let me discribe your situation. First, you go out to your vehicle crank the engine and turn on the heater and immediately smell a strong burst of gas coming through your vents. This will typically happen when it’s cold outside, near or below freezing. Second, you put the car into gear and drive away. Shortly after leaving the smell goes away but returns as soon as you stop at a red light or stop sign. Third, your pissed cause you’re not sure what’s going on and afraid it’s gonna cost you a load of cash to figure it out. Okay, I’ll stop building you up now here’s the simple fix. Cost: $1.00 phillips screw driver; you may want to replace old and rotting hoses they’ll cost you between $3-$5 per foot; if you do you may want to replace some of the clamps at the same time as well if needed. Here’s the trick. You’ll want to tighten all the clamps that are holding rubber fuel lines into place. There are more hoses than what you see on the right side of the engine compartment(standing from the outside of the vehicle facing the driver’s seat) you also have rubber hoses connecting the fuel rails that lead to the injectors, thats where my leak was, so you’ll want to look the engine over well and find all those hoses and tighten them as well. Another trick is that you have to do your tightening in the cold too. This because when the hoses are warm they’ll expand and when they get cold they contract, hince the problem of the fuel leak, so tighting while its cold will give you a tighter clamp on the hose.

Thanks, I get this too when it’s below freezing in CT but it is not very strong. I’ll have to check my hoses when it’s cold out. If I still have the car - I’m afraid my head gasket is gone…

I reported 2001 Outback gas smell problem to the NTSB months ago. Subaru dealers in our area and also independent shops cannot correct – problem identification eludes one and all. Today, with temps in the 20’s, we had to turn the “stinkin’” defroster on in order to see out the windshield, and at the same time had all of the windows open! Scarves were flapping in the breeze. To those in the same boat, bundle up and enjoy try to enjoy the fresh air on your face as you drive with your windows down during these cold months!

Sorry that I can’t help further than the following: A few weeks ago I had the same problem with my 2001 Outback. (live in New York) When I called my dealer (after having five Subarus for my family, I really trust these guys) … and explained the gas smell problem, they knew exactly what the problem was. Sorry I can’t find my receipt to be more exact, but they needed the car for over a half of a day (gave me a loaner) and it dealt with gas lines that needed to be replaced and they had to take off the manifold to do so. It cost about $400. I’ll try to remember to update this post next week

Just got done with a 2001 Legacy that had the same issue of a gas smell. No visible fuel leaks and had tightened all fuel lines when cold but odor was still there. Then I found that the exhaust “y” pipe to converter had a leaking gasket on top. Replaced gasket and problem was solved.