Smell Fuel in Passenger Compartment of 02 Forester

When the car is idling or moving really slow and the Air Inlet Selection Lever on the heater/ac system is set to the Outside Air mode I can smell fuel (gasoline) in the cab. When I’m moving along at say 20mph and higher the smell is greatly reduced. When I switch the Air Inlet Selection Lever to the recirculate interior air position I don’t notice the smell of fuel. Any ideas why this is suddenly happening?

Can you tell us if the smell is raw fuel? Or, exhaust smell? The air intake is just behind the motor so raw fuel in the motor area could be drawn into the air intake. Exhaust fumes could be sucked in also indicating a leak in the exhaust manifold under the hood, or a broken pipe or a hole somewhere in the exhaust system under the car.

If you can smell gasoline there’s a leak somewhere, and this should be checked out by a mechanic ASAP.

Breathing gasoline fumes is hazardous, not to mention the possibility of a fire.

Call your mechanic and make an appointment right away.

There was a recall on some Subarus of that era for replacement of defective clamps on the fuel lines. I suggest that you contact the dealership to see if this recall might apply to your car and thus give you free repairs.

However, even if your car is not covered by that recall, you need to get this fixed a.s.a.p., before you have a fiery incident.

I’m not sure if it’s raw fuel or exhaust. I’m going to look it over as best I can Tuesday morning. If it’s an exhaust issue I’m guessing I shouldn’t smell much of anything when I open the hood after the car has sat overnight. I might turn the ignition to the acc position and run the fan to see if I catch a strong smell of it. Thankfully, I live within 1 mile of two mechanics. The first time I smelled it I had let the car idle for a while before I noticed the tail pipe was in contact with a loosely packed snow bank. I drove it for a couple of hours since then with seemingly no improvement regarding the smell.

Thanks. I think you are right on about the clamp. I managed to track it down to a hose clamp that had a drip. I’m going to give the dealer a call and see what I can do. I don’t think it’s possible to over appreciate Car Talk, its website or its audience. Thanks again.

Thanks for your great counsel folks. I’m relieved that you all were as concerned as I was. I’m about to get her fixed.