Sending unit for gas tank Subaru Legacy

My 96 Subaru Legacy wagon’s gas gauge doesn’t work and it won’t pass inspection without it(check engine light is on because of it). How difficult to repair and how do I go about it? Can it be fixed without pulling the tank?

Many thanks in advance, Doc

If your only concern is passing inspection connect a low watt bulb into the circuit and that should fool the gauge and cancel the CEL. Parts houses have indicator bulbs with male bayonet pins for less than $3.00 that should work nicely.

The petty issues that are being treated like critical problems are amusing as long as someone else is dealing with them. What ignorant bureaucrat can’t see the “Rape of the Lock” stupidity of this situation?

Please post the CODE that is triggering your CEL…It will be something like P1234…

There are access ports in back of the rear seat that allow you to get to the tank sensors. There are two sensors I believe, one on each side of the tank. I would check the code you are getting as it may mean that something else is wrong with the circuit and not the sensors.

Thank you all for replying.

I don’t know the code, it was diagnosed about a year ago by a mechanic. He said his best guess was what I heard as “the sending unit” but maybe he said “sensor(s)”.

I like the low-watt bulb idea but that may not work here in Nazi Jersey. They plug a computer into everything here, but who knows, it just might work.

The mechanic I consulted last year was pretty sure that the problem IS the fuel sensor/sending unit. It took him a couple of days to figure it out- he had never seen that error code before and he’s been at this business awhile. Also, the guy who sold me the car said pretty much the same thing.

Thank you all again. I’ll pass all this info on to my son-in-law who will actually be doing the work as I’m an automotive imbecile (Me carpenter, not mechanic.).

Most grateful for any and all answers.

Regards, Doc

If the light is on now (CEL), most auto-parts stores like auto-zone will read the codes for free. Write them down and post them back here…

If you(your son-in-law) can easily gain access to the sender wires, any electrical resistance introduced into the circuit that moves the gauge’s needle into the operating range will eliminate the problem if that truly is the problem. The CEL would require cancelling to immediately get it off.

Thank you.

Thanks for the reply, although I must admit I don’t understand a word of it. I’ll pass the info along to my son-in-law.

The gas gauge will not cause the CEL to light…Post the trouble code…

Thanks again for all the help. My son-in-law managed to get the car through Inspection somehow without actually fixing the CEL.

A gas gague that turns on a CEL and passing inspection with a lit CEL, this is definitly “X” files stuff as these things just don’t happen.

I’m having a similar problem with an 04 WRX. Not passing emissions in Illinois, trouble codes p0461 and p0463. I posted over on ScoobyMods too…best response was this.

"The fuel level sensor and sub sensor are discrete units - you can install one or both
First - check the wires between the combination meter and the fuel sender
from ECM (R57) and the rear wiring harness (connector R15) it should be less than 5 ohms
Between the fuel tank harness and ground it should be less than 5 ohms
between the fuel level sensor and the coupling connector it should be under 10 ohms
same deal with the fuel sub-level sensor
If that all works out, check the senders - look at the resistance for the fuel level sensor - move the float through it’s range - if it goes over 53 ohms, it needs replacing
do the same with the sub-level sensor - if it goes over 45 ohms, it needs replacing

the level sensor is on the fuel pump assy and the sub-level sensor is on the other side of the tank by itself."

thread here - (WFS)

I know the later model Soobs have a fuel temperature sensor in the tank that can trip the CEL light but I’m not sure about a '96 model. Dirty sender contacts are a common problem with these cars and sometimes the contacts can be cleaned by using a Chevron product called Techron in the tank. It may take a couple of tank fulls to correct the problem and also may not work, but it has worked for some folks.

  1. the gas guage sending unit cannot cause a CEL.

  2. the 95 legacy is a OBD1 car, not OBD2, os it lives by different rules than 96 and up cars. the guy who said it would not pass inspection was probably wrong.