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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
86,960 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 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #37

Jul 052013

Forester 4-cyl

  • 100,000 miles


Fuel smell at start up in temps below 35 degrees, decreases after car warms up. If very cold does not go away.

- Hawthorne, NJ, USA

problem #36

Jan 062014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
During the recent cold snap here in Tennessee I got a report from a friend that his 2004 Forester xt was leaking fuel into his engine bay. I went out to start my car the next day and mine is doing the same thing. The fuel is slowly leaking onto the engine block. This is an extremely dangerous situation. I did some researching and it seems that almost all Forester models from 2002-2006 have this exact same issue! some have been recalled, but the Forester xt hasn't. the engines are the same...I don't understand why this dangerous problem hasn't been resolved by Subaru.

- Sevierville, TN, USA

problem #35

Jan 032014

Forester 4-cyl

  • miles
2004 Subaru Forester xs when temperatures drop the fuel line shrinks around the fitting and raw gas leaks at a rate of 1 drop per 3-5 seconds directly onto the exhaust manifold. We first noticed the pool of gas on the exhaust manifold on a 20 F day. The raw gas fumes that filled the cabin were so strong we got severe headaches and had to turn off the heater and drive home with the windows down. I am pregnant & became extremely nauseated. Upon exit the smell of fuel was extremely strong on the passenger side near the front wheel well. When the car is running & the hood is open you can see the gas dripping where the fuel line is clamped to a fitting and collecting on the manifold. I called the dealership first thing in the morning. They told me it was a common problem and when the weather warms up the line will expand and it will be fine. The problem is, it's an abnormally cold winter with temps in the single digits & we can't wait until spring to drive our car with out fears of blowing up. We can't even park it in the garage when not driven due to the strong fumes. When asked if there was a recall I was also told that there is only one for the WRX for this issue, which happens to use the exact same parts. How have other models with the same fuel line, clamps and fittings, & posing the exact same risk not been recalled? this is not lack of maintenance, age, or neglect. This is a design flaw that poses serious risk. It just so happens this is the first winter cold enough to unmask the problem. Please google search 2004 Forester gas leak and you will see, this is unfortunately common. It occurs in multiple models, over multiple years, all using the same shrinking fuel line. Please don't wait until this fire risk takes a life before it is investigated.

- Winchester, VA, USA

problem #34

Nov 202013

Forester 4-cyl

  • 129,000 miles


Strong smell of fuel when operating the vehicle in cold weather (around 35 degrees or colder). The fumes are sometimes so intense that they cause a headache and certainly pose a significant fire risk.

- Mooresville, NC, USA

problem #33

Dec 032012

Forester 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
I first noticed a strong gas smell in the vehicle on the coldest day of the year, when the temperature was below 20 degrees. The gas smell enters the vehicle through the vents when the heater is turned on and the car is idling. While the vehicle is traveling at a speed of 10+ mph, the gas smell is not noticeable. When the heater is turned off, the gas smell does not enter the vehicle. When I exit the vehicle, I can smell gas outside of the vehicle also. The smell is so overwhelming that I cannot run the heater in the extreme cold temperatures while the vehicle is idling. I ran the vehicle throughout the summer months and there is no problem with the gas smell whatsoever. I do not take my child in the vehicle with me during the winter months due to the strong gas fumes. I fear that I may become stranded in my vehicle and I will not be able to idle my car for heat.

- Salt Lake City, UT, USA

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problem #32

Oct 232013

Forester 4-cyl

  • 16,200 miles
Start vehicle in the morning and can smell gas fumes outside and inside even when driving. This causes burning of nose and throat.

- St. Paul, MN, USA

problem #31

Jan 142013

Forester 4-cyl

  • 159,400 miles


After coming home and parking my car in the garage my wife came in from the garage and said it smelled like gas. I found the source to be my 2004 Subaru. I drove it the dealer the next morning and they said that the fuel lines due to the cold, as it was below 20 degree's, pulled away from the fuel rail so raw gas was pooling on the manifold. They kept it for a week saying it was not safe to drive, and replaced all the fuel lines and clamps for $850. They said it was one of the worst leaks they have seen. I have now read numerous complaints on this issue and noticed the 2003 WRX, same engine, was recalled for this safety issue. I guess I am lucky as it could have caught me, my house or who knows what on fire if it has sparked.

- Grand Junction, CO, USA

problem #30

Feb 012012

Forester 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
My 2004 Forester xt (turbo) developed a slow gasoline leak, with gas seeping from hoses/clamps located underneath manifold. Gas fumes were entering the cab of vehicle, especailly when out-side temperatures below 40 degrees F. this is a safety and health hazard for drivers and passengers. This appears to be the same problem as outlined in recall of Subaru impreza WRX turbo (recall #wvk-21), but to date there are no recall for this issue for Foresters. I reently had this fixed at a cost > $500, cost was primarily to take manifold off in order to get to hoses & clamps which had to be replaced.

- Grass Valley, CA, USA

problem #29

Feb 122012

Forester 4-cyl

  • 94,800 miles
Strong gas/fuel smell inside cabin and engine compartment during vehicle warm up in driveway when temp was in low 20's. unable to locate leaking fuel but smell is noticeably stronger on passenger side of engine bay. Vehicle will be towed to dealer in the morning as vehicle is unsafe to drive. Gas vapors are extremely flammable/explosive. I have found many similar complaints posted on this website and others. This suggests there may be an inherent design flaw since these vehicles are marketed to owners in cold weather locales. I have contacted Subaru of America via E-mail about this incident. Today is Sunday and nothing is open.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #28

Dec 222011

Forester 4-cyl

  • 55,100 miles
Strong raw fuel smell in cabin of car during cold start/cold weather. It appears that the fuel lines shrink in cold weather and pull away from the metal fuel lines causing vapor leak as well as fuel leaks. The problem is that the fuel lines are located under the intake manifold and are impossible to tighten unless the manifold is removed. This is a huge safety hazard.

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #27

Oct 082011


  • 101,000 miles


On the first genuine cold day of the year (below 40 degrees F) I noticed a strong fuel smell coming from my air vents while driving. As it's now mid November and averages below 40 degrees F I get a strong fuel smell at every cold start until the car warms up to top operating temperature. After researching this symptom, I discovered that it's very common for the fuel clamps underneath the intake manifold on the passenger side to leak when cold on 2004 Subaru Forester xts. Upon further investigation I discovered that this is happening with my car, and is pooling fuel on the engine until warm. Average estimate from dealer is $500.

- Highlands Ranch, CO, USA

problem #26

Oct 252011

Forester 4-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
Gas lines leak on 2004 Subaru Forester xt when ambient temperatures fall below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Significant amounts of fuel leak into the engine area, and strong fumes enter the passenger area. NHTSA has already issued a tsb on the Subaru wxt regarding the same problem. Concerned about fire hazard and inhalation of gasoline vapors. Very strong odor. Could not continue to drive.

- Fort Collins, CO, USA

problem #25

Apr 092011


  • 137,218 miles
Fuel odor noted in passenger compartment starting 4/9/11, (137218 mi) 55 degree ambient temperature, vehicle running for 10+ minutes and up to temperature. At stop light when odor began. Children in the vehicle became nauseated and began retching. Windows down to vent passenger compartment. Odor identified in passenger compartment and engine bay only, no raw fuel odor in exhaust or surrounding the vehicle. 4/11/11, 52 degrees, 137463 mi 4/13/11, tightened accessible fuel line clamps in engine bay 4/27/11, 40 degrees, 138113 mi 4/28/11, 53 degrees, 138215 mi 4/30/11, isolated leak to area immediately below manifold, near air filter on left side (passenger side) of engine; able to visualize fuel leaking onto engine at rate of 5 drops/10 seconds. 5/1/11 45 degrees, 138511 mi concerns over safety of exposed fuel in engine bay (explosion hazard), as well as effect of fumes on adults/children (toxicity), and non-compliance with epa standards. To contact Subaru of America to discuss options for repair/replacement of affected parts

- Fort Collins, CO, USA

problem #24

Jan 012011

Forester 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
In very cold temperatures (below freezing), the fuel line under the intake on the passenger side will occasionally leak at the connection between the rubber hose and steel line. It will drip fuel onto the engine block until it warms up. The smell of gasoline can be detected inside the vehicle and around the engine area. The fuel drips at a rate of about 1 drip per 1-3 seconds until the hose warms up and seals against the steel line. The dealer could not duplicate the problem, but they offered to tighten the fuel line fittings. The intake manifold had to be lifted and the cost was about $150, but they couldn't guarantee a fix. It will have to be rechecked in colder weather. This 2004 Forester xt has 70,000 miles on it.

- Chester, VA, USA

problem #23

Nov 262009

Forester 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Gas lines leak on 2004 Subaru Forester xt when ambient temperatures fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Significant amounts of fuel leak into the engine area, and strong fumes enter the passenger area. NHTSA has already issued a tsb on the Subaru wxt regarding the same problem. Concerned about fire hazard and inhalation of gasoline vapors.

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #22

Feb 082011


  • 109,000 miles
1st issue with 2004 fxt 4at. Cold start emitting raw fuel smell both in and outside of car. Local shop diagnosed as weak connections on fuel filter. Filter needed replacement in 5,000 miles, so opted to swap out to a new oem filter. Next day smell still present. Temps below freezing for past 6 weeks (Michigan), but problem only started 1 week ago. Since problem persists, doing more research, and will contact soa and local sub dealer for assistance and plan. No other fuel complaints (knock, stall, rough idle, economy issues). Current mileage 109,000.

- Novi, MI, USA

problem #21

Dec 122010

Forester 4-cyl

  • 48,500 miles
We owned a 2004 Subaru Forester for 6 years. 2 years ago I experienced an incident where starting out the accelerator stuck at an advanced rate of speed. I was able to quickly gain control and brake the vehicle and thought it was an aberration. Recently on starting out from a ferry boat the accelerator again stuck at an advanced rate of speed. I avoided people and many cars but did collide with a wall and 1 car, finally stopping the Subaru by driving up a hill, over a curb and into a fence. I had mechanics check the accelerator system. They said they could find no defect in the system but that other factors could contribute to "sticking" such as faulty floor mats or placement od brake and/or accelerator pedals. I am not an expert but my examination indicates (1) there is approximately 2 inch gap between the front of the accelerator pedal and the floor (2)that T he brake and accelerator pedals are quite close together; and that a foot could become "hung up" or lodged because of either or both of these things. This possibility could be increased by larger feet, although I do not consider my size 11 width ee shoe size to be overly large. My non-expert opinion is that these pedals should be re-engineered so that (1) there is no gap of the accelerator to the floor (2)there is a clear separation of the brake and accelerator pedals.

- Edmonds, WA, USA

problem #20

Feb 012011


  • 114,000 miles
Strong smell of gas inside the car in cold weather. Replaced and tightened fuel clamps, to no avail. A recall was issued for the same system on the WRX, why not the Forester?

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #19

Jan 202011

Forester 4-cyl

  • 55,038 miles
Strong odor of raw gasoline in cabin during cold weather when vehicle is stopped. Seems to be the fuel leak in the engine compartment that many other Subaru Forester xt owners are experiencing.

- Morrisonville, NY, USA

problem #18

Jan 122011

Forester 4-cyl

  • 58,113 miles
2004 Subaru Forester leaks fuel directly onto manifold in conditions of cold ambient temperature. Research reveals the problem is endemic to virtually all Subaru model years 2002 - 2004. In 2009, Subaru issued a recall for 2002 impreza WRX models sold in certain states, but the engine is the same design for the other models. Strong odor of fuel in passenger compartment is symptomatic. Strong risk of fire. Odor abates when engine and/or ambient temperatures rise.

- Charlottesville, VA, USA

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