NHTSA — Fuel/Propulsion System Problems

2004 Subaru Forester (Page 1 of 2)

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hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
113,427 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Subaru Forester fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2004 Subaru Forester Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #38

Jan 182016


  • 89,000 miles


Fuel lines seep fuel onto the top of engine block and near turbo inlet area when temperatures are below ~20 degrees Fahrenheit. The seepage occurs at the clamps between the metal and gas lines below the intake manifold. These clamps are not accessible without removal of many parts by a professional mechanic. Gas fumes fill the cabin when this occurs as well. Fumes are not bad when moving but if stopped at a stop sign or after starting the vehicle the fumes are very strong. This has been a known issue with other model Subaru (2002 - 2003 Subaru impreza & impreza WRX) that have a very similar engine configuration but has never been addressed with the Subaru Forester. The concerns I have are 1) fire hazard of gas pooling on top of engine block near turbo and other components 2) fumes building up in the passenger cabin.

- Moorefield, WV, USA

problem #37

Jan 242014


  • 107,000 miles
There is a strong gasoline smell inside the car when the heat is on and the outside air temperature is around 30F or colder. The odor occurs regardless of whether the car is moving or not.

- Wayne, PA, USA

problem #36

Jan 122016


  • 90,000 miles
Leaking gas under the intake manifold when it is cold out, 90K miles on the car.

- Waltham, MA, USA

problem #35

Jan 042016


  • 148,000 miles


In cold weather there is a fuel smell in the cabin. I'm told this is a common Subaru problem that results from the metal fuel line joining with a rubber/plastic hose in the engine compartment. The metal and rubber expand/contract at different rates as the temperature changes resulting in a fuel leak. It is most noticeable when stationary idling during cold weather.

- Elizabethtown, PA, USA

problem #34

Jan 042016


  • 95,000 miles
Approx. 90000 miles - strong smell of gasoline inside passenger cabin. Leaking seal as described by 1000's of other Subaru owners. Why no recall or advisory on what owner's should look for. Between GM fires, etc, not exactly sure what you all need to issue recall order/notifications. Sad.

- Salt Lake City, UT, USA

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problem #33

Dec 022015


  • 185,000 miles
Dangerous!! I am the recent proud owner of a 2004 Subaru Forester xt. A couple of days ago we got our first freeze. I walk out to start my car and it's not turning over and a strong fuel smell is filling the cabin. I keep trying thinking that it may turn over. With no luck, and fearing something is wrong (or may possibly blow up), I stop and get out. Taking a closer look having parked it some dirt, I see that it is visibly moist under my car. The ground is saturated with gas. Luckily it didn't contact any spark in the engine or I wasn't smoking, because I wouldn't be here today to tell this story. It was a ton of gas. Please fix this before someone dies or gets seriously injured.

- North Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #32

Nov 232015


  • 120,000 miles


During winter months 2004 Forester xt emits noxious fuel smell into cabin. Source is from engine compartment in area of turbo/exhaust manifold as discover from puddle on garage floor during warm

- Charles Town, WV, USA

problem #31

Nov 112015


  • 150,000 miles
The fuel lines under the manifold on the passenger side are leaking fuel when first starting and it is cold outside(below 50F). The fumes and filling the cab of the car when the heater it on.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #30

Nov 112015


  • miles
Fuel rail hoes clamps/rubber line is faulty, causing pooling of gas on the top of the engine. Major fire hazard.

- East Dubuque, IL, USA

problem #29

Apr 282015


  • 126,400 miles
I started the car on a cold morning and the whole vehicle smelled of gasoline. I'm unable to drive my children in the vehicle until this issue is resolved as I fear they may be inhaling fumes or may suffer a horrible fiery death I risk my own life back and forth to work and notice the smell starts to go away after the car warms up either that or I'm just used to it. My 02 WRX had the same issue and it was recalled. Why haven't the xt issues been recalled? haddad Subaru in pittsfield MA tightened up what they could reach but the issue lies beneath the intake.

- Stephentown, NY, USA

problem #28

Feb 012014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 150,000 miles


My car has a strong gas odor smell coming from the air vents and from the outside of the car while I'm driving or even while the car is warming up and not moving. This has been happening since last year and I just recently found out another friend of mine with the same type of car told me to report it to the NHTSA website.

- Elkins, WV, USA

problem #27

Dec 082014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
In cold weather (below 30 degrees), fuel lines leak under the intake manifold, causing a severe fuel smell in the cabin, most likely also a fire hazard. Dealer claims not a recall issue. Upon research a large majority of Subaru in model range have the issue, with no fix in sight.

- Merrick, NY, USA

problem #26

Feb 132015

Forester 4-cyl

  • 105,800 miles
There is a very strong and distinct smell of raw fuel coming from the engine compartment when the weather is below freezing (20F or below). The smell comes through the air vents into the passenger compartment and is strong enough to cause a headache for the passengers in the car. The smell is worst when the car is stopped after a drive. It seems that this is a known problem with Subaru WRX 2002 & 2003 cars and Subaru has issued a recall for them. This also seems to be a common enough problem for Subaru forrester cars from the same timeframe. On the website www.aboutautomobile.com/complaint/2004/Subaru/Forester, almost 50% of the complaints out of 154 complaints is about this fuel leak issue. This seems to be a well known problem according to dealers and other Subaru forrester owners as well (www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/F87/smell-gas-cold-starts-41319/). it has also been documented by other owners at NHTSA: Https://sites.google.com/site/20042005foresterxtfuelleaks/ Subaru of America seems to have implicitly acknowledged the systemic problem as they have been reimbursing some owners (but not all) for their service costs which can be in the range for $800 (www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/F88/fixing-leaking-fuel-gas-line-86782/). however, Subaru has not recalled these cars and is expecting owners to fix the problems which may may cause health issues and given fuel leaking on hot engine parts, may lead to an engine fire if not fixed.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #25

Feb 202015

Forester 4-cyl

  • 129,000 miles
Strong odor of gas when outside temperature drops.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #24

Jan 192015


  • 115,000 miles
Noticed a strong fuel smell after letting the car warm up on a cold morning, odor went away after 15-20 minutes. Fuel smell has gotten stronger, and is now constant even when operating under highway speeds. This is exactly the same as many other Forester owners have complained about. Issues it with the fuel line going to the injectors on the passenger side of the motor. Is exactly the same issue and parts that Subaru uses on the WRX which was recalled for this exact issue.

- Oakland, ME, USA

problem #23

Jan 052015

Forester 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
To whom it may concern, hello, I am the owner of a 2004 Forester xt which I love. I've owned the car for almost a year and its been nothing but reliable up to this point. The weather outside is frightful, and with that comes a common problem for many Subaru owners. During the cold snaps, say below 20F, there is strong fuel smells which fills the cabin. It only happens during start-up, and lasts about 15 mins before the car warms up. From searching many forums and internet threads it seems this problem has been occurring since early 2001. There was a recall notice (wvk-21)for the 2002 -2003 WRX's which had a same problem I am experiencing now. Unfortunately a recall was never issued for later model Subaru which suffer the same problem. The problem is fuel leaking from 5 main fuel lines going into the intake manifold. It seems that when it is cold outside, the lines are shrinking and is allowing fuel to spew out everywhere. Just from searching for 3 days I've seen 125 cases of this happening to other owners. Will you please put out a bulletin before someone dies from there car exploding because of extra fuel leaking out of the fuel hoses. Please I beg of you, please issue a recall!!!

- Dayton , OH, USA

problem #22

Nov 032014

Forester 4-cyl

  • miles
Fuel smell in cabin with blower set on outside air. The cause was a fuel leak in the engine bay under the intake manifold.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #21

Nov 132014


  • 120,000 miles
On days with sub-freezing temperatures, after starting the vehicle, a strong smell of gas is present. Upon inspection of the engine compartment, there is gasoline visibly dripping from a fuel line behind the ac compressor. The gasoline lands on the engine block and produces visible vapors as it is slowly burned up by the heat. Upon discussing the problem with a Subaru repair shop, they said this is quite common for my vehicle.

- Westminster, CO, USA

problem #20

Nov 292013

Forester 4-cyl

  • 180,000 miles
I purchased a used Subaru Forester xt. The car had approximately 180,000 miles and was purchased mid-winter in denver, Colorado. On extremely cold days I noticed a raw fuel smell. It was an alarmingly strong smell! I was all too familiar with this issue since I had also owned a 2002 Subaru WRX with approximately 155,000 which incidentally was covered under a recall for this "known" issue. Interestingly enough there was no issue with raw gas smell on the days that were warmer with either vehicle. I made an appointment at a Subaru dealership in longmont, Colorado where they advised me that the fuel hoses were leaking underneath the manifold and that the replacement part was not available at the time because it was back ordered approximately 6-8 weeks. I had a factory trained Subaru technician that owns his own shop replace a certain number of the fuel delivery hoses with original Subaru replacement parts since said part was back ordered. I also replaced the long block (Subaru) along with a host of other items at the same time since the motor was out. Prior to going to the dealership I was able to test the vehicle's internal atmosphere with a tool that detects the environments air quality. The atmosphere was able to trip the tool showing that the atmosphere was in a lower explosive limit. Imagine my surprise that it was that bad. I determined that this issue warranted an immediate fix with Subaru factory parts. As of this last week, November 2014, when denver had record breaking cold weather I have the same issue again with raw fuel smell. Now, one could conclude that the factory trained technician made an error replacing said parts but I have been driving my vehicle without issue for nearly 9 warm months. Coincidence"?" I'm beginning to wonder. This fix should have been fixed under a recall as was my 2002 Subaru WRX. I called S.O.a with no help.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #19

Nov 112014


  • 96,000 miles
The smell of fuel became obvious after a 10-15 minute drive. Upon examination, there was fuel dripping from a fuel line. This occurred after the first freeze of the year, fitting other descriptions of this issue I found for this model.

- Fayetteville, AR, USA

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